Adamant: Hardest metal
Friday, 24. January 2003

Civilization has come a long way in the past century or so

January 24, 2003 4:34:49 AM CET
Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 8:06:26 AM
By: Priscilla West

Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 23:01:36 -0600
From: Priscilla West
Subject: Response to Dawn Gable

Dear Editor: Settling into bed last night, I got to wondering about Dawn Gable. What sort of person must she be to write such a bizarre response to my letter?

From her letter we know that Dawn Gable is an American, educated in biology, who lived four years here in Oklahoma. While I understand how the Bible-belt conservatism in this part of the US might send some packing, even the most liberal would not readily trade it for a "mud house" in rural, underdeveloped Venezuela. So I mused that she could be involved with mission or charity work.

One thing that made Dawn Gable's letter stick in my mind was the bizarre implication of my own moral decrepitude based, apparently, on a presumed aversion to "mosquitoes [sic.] ... and taking freezing cold showers." Civilization has come a long way in the past century or so, and many people (including myself) do prefer urban life to rural... but something more was bugging me... it just didn't add up.

Chatting on Instant Messenger that evening, a friend had informed me that Dawn Gable published a letter in the Caracas Daily Journal. He speculated that she could be a figment of the Chavez propaganda machine. Hmm ... an interesting possibility, as several cases of fictitious Chavez supporters with American-sounding names have been reported! It would also make sense, considering her effusive praise of Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution" and her closing quote by Che Guevara...

Finally I could stand it no longer. I threw back the covers, fired up the computer, and did a Yahoo search for "Dawn Gable biologist." I first found a document written by Dawn Gable about "Bolivarian" education reform, which I won't detail here. (Suffice it to say that her vision for the indoctrination Venezuelan youth is a frightening one) Next, the search yielded an unexpected result: An ("Listmania") list created by Dawn Gable, entitled "Latin American Revolution... a course."

Provided she does not modify or delete the page, you may view Dawn Gable's recommended reading list here.

In the event that she does remove or change her list, I reproduce most of it (with short excerpts) here:

In the Shadow of the Liberator: The Impact of Hugo Chavez on Venezuela and Latin America (Richard Gott) -- This book opens with a famous quote by Hugo Chavez, "In the name of Cuba and of Venezuela, I appeal for the unity of our two peoples, and of the revolution that we both lead..." and goes on in its first pages to describe Fidel Castro as the "most famous revolutionary hero in Latin America."

Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution (Thomas C. Wright) -- This book serves "to illuminate ... revolution in Cuba and the impact of the Cuban model of insurrection upon the rest of Latin America."

Che: Images of a Revolutionary (Fernando Diego Garcia) -- the book's contents are obvious. Dawn Gable herself posts the comment, "indulge..... fall in love with latin americas greatest 20th century hero."

Socialism and Man in Cuba (Che Guevara, Fidel Castro) -- no excerpt available.

Weavers of Revolution: The Yarur Workers and Chile's Road to Socialism (Peter Winn) -- No clear excerpt is available on, but one chapter is titled "The End of the Democratic Road."

Cuba: Talking About Revolution (Juan Antonio Blanco, Medea Benjamin) -- "I had seen a lot of beggars in Havana -- that was a common sight in Cuba before the revolution ... that's when as a young kid I realized that like my parents, I too, was a communist and a revolutionary."

Che Guevara Reader: Writings by Ernesto Che Guevara on Guerrilla Strategy, Politics & Revolution (Che Guevara) -- My carpal tunnel syndrome is kicking in, but by now we all get the picture!

While the more politically savvy Chavez supporter is careful to draw a distinction between "Communism" and "Bolivarianism," the ground-level activist such as Dawn Gable clearly is not. For most readers of the twenty-first century, it is unnecessary to detail Socialism's pitfalls or provide examples of leaders corrupted by absolute power.

I cherish the fact that every American, including Dawn Gable, is entitled to her own opinion. While I will refrain from pronouncing personal judgement, I ask that readers ... be they rightist, leftist, nudist, etc... simply be aware that Dawn Gable harkens to the seductive call of revolution. Her distinctly anti-capitalism, anti-Democracy, anti-globalization stance is representative of the Chavez regime's. Hugo Chavez has had several years' head start on "posturing" through manipulation of international media. Now that Venezuela has realized its mistake in electing him, it's time for the rest of the world to wake up and smell the Dawn Gables!

Priscilla West
Tulsa OK

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It's just a fantastically dangerous situation!

January 24, 2003 4:31:54 AM CET
Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 7:44:36 AM
By: Francisco Toro

Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 21:50:47 -0400
From: Francisco Toro
Subject: How to slide into civil war without really trying...

Dear Editor: I think I'm pretty well covered against charges of alarmism on the subject at hand, though it's definitely the most sensitive on the agenda in Venezuela these days. And the reason I think I'm pretty well covered is that over the last year or so I've argued again and again that, in its first four years in office, the most puzzling thing about the Chavez administration was not how much violence it deployed, but how little.

I've made that point repeatedly, both in print and informally, and it sure hasn't made me any friends.

As far as many people in the opposition are concerned, saying anything that might even indirectly reflect favorably on the government at all is close to heresy. And they could always reply with numerous cases of intimidation, harassment, baton beatings, rubber pelleting, tear gassing and even sporadic shooting to try to paint Chavez' as a kind of mobster regime.

I say "oddly" because everything else we knew about the regime suggested it should have had no compunctions about using violence -- the theatrical militarism, the cult-of-personality, the autocratic intolerance, the use of threats in place of arguments, the endless chatter about revolutionary this and revolutionary that, the demonization of opponents, the entire ideological structure of chavismo seemed like a complex web of justifications for violence. Yet when the rubber hit the road, when the time came to actually act on that ideological combo-pack, Chavistas seemed weirdly bashful.

What's alarming, though, is that little by little they're getting over it.

You can see it happening in Venezuela these days. The process is gradual, yes, and it doesn't happen all at once. But you can actually see it happening in front of your eyes now, on your TV screen. It's unmistakable. And it's spooky as hell.

When Chavistas first turned their guns on opposition protesters, back on April 11th, the country was so uniformly stunned that Chavez was actually toppled for 48 hours there in response. It was just inconceivable to us back then, that one Venezuelan could shoot another over something so fleeting and banal as a political disagreement. These days, it's become almost routine. It barely elicits outrage anymore, just a grim shake of the head and a knot in the pit of your stomach.

And how could we be surprised at this point?

Ever since August 14th, when the Supreme Tribunal ruled that there had been no military rebellion on April 11th, groups of Chavistas have been using guns on us more and more often. The gunmen have been fully identified several times now, by stunningly brave amateur cameramen. The private TV stations -- you know, the ones Chavez wants shut down (I wonder why?) -- play the videos again and again. Yet the government never acts against these people. The only gunman now in detention is Joao de Gouveia, who wound up in jail merely because he broke the 11th commandment of the Chavista shooter: if you're shooting in an opposition-controlled area, then for chrissake don't get caught by a municipal cop.

Yet, even by the standards of this gradual routinization of violence, the shooting spree against the opposition in Charallave was especially troubling ... on several levels. First off, because the opposition wasn't even ambushed ... as on so many other occasions ... by government supporters waiting at the end of their march path. No, this time, the gunmen were literally delivered to the march's starting point, opening fire from the roofs of speeding jeeps as a huge crowd of all ages and genders was getting ready to start marching. (Again, one very gutsy home video enthusiast has the footage to prove it).

So there was no question of "clashing crowds" here, or "policemen trying to keep the groups apart" or any of the standard repertoire of obfuscation and smoke-screening the government usually employs to keep their denials plausible. None of that ... just a large crowd of people "armed only with flags and whistles" as the cliche goes, suddenly and randomly attacked for no reason at all other than being opposed to the autocrat.

When you peel away all of the nonsense and the visceral outrage and you just stare that situation straight in the face, what word comes to your mind to describe it? And I am mindful of the way the term has been abused for political gain over the last 17 months, but when I look at what happened in Charallave, I can think of only one word to describe it: terrorism ... and state terrorism, at that.

It's not just the incredible cowardice of the attack, its openness, its shamelessness. Perhaps even worse is the way the Chavista mayor of Charallave more or less claimed responsibility for the attacks, in a statement that can't be that far off from what Hezbollah issues after shooting up some Israeli settlers. After proudly announcing that Charallave is "Chavista territory," Mayor Marisela Mendoza said she hoped "it won't even occur to the opposition to try to march here again," apparently not fully aware that she was coming perilously close to confessing to being an accessory to murder. Because, oh yes, did I forget to mention that? Among the dozens of wounded there was one guy who never made it out of that march.

But then, in Venezuela, that barely counts as news these days.

The fear, the very widespread fear, is that we're only starting to see the top few inches of the tip of a distant iceberg here. I don't think there's any doubt anymore that the government has armed many, many of its civilian supporters, trained them, and is now working on getting them used to shooting at us when the order comes without thinking twice.

That charming Mayor Mendoza there makes it achingly clear that some of them no longer feel the need to go through the motions of covering up their tracks. It's a fantastically dangerous situation.

It's just a fantastically dangerous situation.

Francisco Toro

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