Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Joe Kennedy, and Oliver Stone must be breathing sighs of relief and gratitude. Hugo Chavez lives! The Don of Venezuela went to Cuba where he was operated upon for a mystery ailment. After days of silence, he has emerged and spoken. He reports that he underwent successful surgery in Cuba for some sort of cancerous tumor. He assured his supporters that while he convalesces in Havana he will continue to govern the country.
That has led some opposition figures inside Venezuela to cite the Constitution, noting that he cannot be absent from the country for such a long period of time and that the Vice President must take over. This argument is humorous for two major reasons: First, Chavez respect Constitutional limits on what he wants to do? Oh, poor, poor deluded child. That is not the Chavez way. Second, Chavez is governing from the true capital of Venezuela, Havana. It's all one big happy 21st Century Socialist Family, don't you know? Chavez provides the Castro brothers capital, and they provide him a capital where he is safe. He is safe both from the mean streets of Caracas, now among the most violent on earth, and the ministrations of potentially politically unreliable doctors in Venezuela.
Don't you love the men of the people? When, for example, crazy leftist Forbes Burnham of Guyana got sick, he got himself some Cuban doctors--he had minor throat surgery and the Cuban docs ended up killing him, so he might have been better off going to Massachusetts General. When Castro was at death's door in 2006, he spared no expense in bringing Spanish doctors to save him from his Cuban ones. When Chavez gets sick, he, too, hightails it out of the country. Now we can all understand when rich, corrupt, rightwing dictators go abroad for medical treatment, but aren't these lefties supposed to be of, by, and for the people? Aren't they giving their people the wonders and glories of socialism, including state-run medical services? In fact, the Chavez-drafted Constitution declares health care a right, and obligates the state to provide it. [Aside: Once we get Obamacare, to where do we hightail it?]
Anyhow, Chavez has reemerged, underlining in the process, the continuing US failure to deal with this Andean gangster. I blame Bush and Obama. Bush suffered an uncharacteristic failure of nerve, i.e., he listened to the career Foreign Service at the State Department, and emboldened Chavez. Obama, of course, has no interest, at all, in opposing Chavez, and is perfectly willing to sell out our key interests in Latin America to this gangster and his friends. We have never established "red lines" for Chavez's behavior, and like a mean dog, or a petulant child he keeps pushing, trying to find the boundaries. They do not seem to exist.