Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
4 April 2007

Britain’s quiet diplomacy… towards Iran

To be consistent, should we not berate Tony Blair because of his quiet diplomacy towards the tyrants in Iran? After all, they hang people there for being gay. In Zimbabwe gay men are “only” locked up and political opponents are tortured. Is this a double standard resulting from racism? Or do we get so excited about Bob because of his proximity to our shores?
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