Degrees of Freedom
It is obvious an but rarely remembered observation that it is always possible to jump from the frying pan into the fire. In the case of Venezuela, this means that Hugo Chavez was not necessarily an improvement on his predecessor simply because he succeeded him. The New York Times is reporting that the Venezuelan studentry -- that repository of idealism and bellweather of future trends -- is leading the opposition to Hugo Chavez.
Finding Yon Goicoechea, a leader of the nascent student movement protesting the expanding power of President Hugo Chávez, is not easy. He changes cellphones every few days. After receiving dozens of death threats, he moves among the apartments of friends here each day in search of a safe place to sleep.
In an interview this week in a back room at one such residence, a villa in a leafy district in this city, Mr. Goicoechea described the movement that has supplanted traditional political parties in recent weeks as the most cohesive and respected challenger to Mr. Chávez’s government. ...
But what about the claims, from Mr. Chávez and his loyalists, that the students ultimately want to oust him from office? “We want social transformation, not a coup,” Mr. Goicoechea said. “The real coup d’état is coming from Chávez, who wants to perpetuate himself in power.”
But wasn't it supposed to be the other way around? Chavez's supporters billed him as the agent of social transformation. Now that Venezuelan students describe him as nothing more than a caudillo in Leftist clothing, who are the good guys now?
“People don’t believe in political parties anymore; they don’t believe in anyone,” said Stalin González, a leader of the student protests here. “The students are fresh new figures with a different message,” he said. “This doesn’t mean we’re the salvation.”
Stalin Gonzalez, eh? There's a name to conjure with and a reminder that you can always jump from the frying pan into the fire.