I wanna lay a story on you — one not widely reported in the media. In fact, it was scarcely reported at all. The story involves Venezuela, Cuba, and the very close relationship between their governments. Those governments are virtually one. And Caracas submits to Havana, for shot-calling.
Nicolás Maduro was in Vancouver, stopping over on his way to New York, where he was scheduled to address the U.N. Maduro, as you know, is the successor to Hugo Chávez as strongman of Venezuela. He never made it to New York. He hightailed it back to Caracas instead. Why?
Well, he was traveling in a Cuban plane — Russian-made — and was accompanied by a cool twelve Cuban agents. All of these agents had been issued Venezuelan passports. (The Spanish newspaper ABC published the names of the agents — here.)
You have to understand: Maduro’s relation to the Castros is quasi-filial. So was Chávez’s. Maduro is like the second son. Fidel has acted as spiritual leader, and political adviser, to these South American leftists.
In Vancouver, the Maduro team grew concerned that their plane might be seized in the U.S. This is what a U.S. official told Bloomberg News, off the record. (For the story, go here.) But Maduro himself had a different explanation.
Get ready for this: He said that Otto Reich and Roger Noriega were plotting to kill him. Who are they? They are American diplomats who have served in Republican administrations. They are great scaremen for the Latin American Left.
So, Maduro got out of Dodge (or Vancouver). He told the folks back home, “I had to fulfill my maximum objective, to preserve my physical integrity, my life, and Venezuelan honor.”
Roger Noriega had a more realistic comment on the matter. In an e-mail to Bloomberg, he said of Maduro, “My guess is he would be safer in NY than he is in Caracas because of the infighting within his criminal regime.”
Look, Maduro, like his predecessor, is a clown, and our instinct may be to laugh at him. Fine. But remember: Venezuelans have to live under this destructive clown.
Thor Halvorssen put it differently, and well. (He is the creator of the Human Rights Foundation and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He is also Venezuelan.) “It’s an operetta,” he remarked to me, “that doesn’t seem to have an interval — or an ending!”
I found this report in the Washington Post depressing, and infuriating. The headline is “Britain’s harsh crackdown on Internet porn prompts free-speech debate.” When someone speaks of a “harsh crackdown” on porn, you can bet that some feeble attempts are being made to limit this scourge.
The first sentence of the report goes like this: “In a land whose uptight reputation is belied by its wicked ways, the Conservative-led British government is in the midst of a crusade to enact some of the strictest curbs on pornography in the Western world.” Do you know what the opposite of “wicked” is? “Virtuous”? “Moral”? “Good”? No, “uptight.”
David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, “has launched an all-out assault” on porn, says the report. (The “report” is really an opinion piece in disguise.) So, what are the components of this all-out assault and harsh crackdown?
Family-friendly filters will soon be automatically installed when most new subscribers sign up for Internet service, with customers wishing to view pornography needing to make a conscious choice to turn them off.
No! A conscious choice! Oh, the harshness, the all-out-assaultness!
Before the end of next year, most of the 21 million wired households in Britain will also be placed in the awkward position of having to declare whether they want to keep access to legal online pornography or have it blocked by their telecommunications providers.
Placed in an awkward position? I’ll tell you this: Kim Jong-un’s North Korea has nothing on David Cameron’s Britain as a hell of oppression.
In my opinion, much of the sickness of our society is captured in the way the Washington Post has handled this matter of Britain, Cameron, and porn.