10 questions with A.C. Clark, author of the critical Hugo Chavez biography ‘The Revolutionary Has No Clothes’
A.C. Clark — a pseudonym the author used to protect himself and his family — is the author of the book “The Revolutionary Has No Clothes: Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Farce,” released in 2009. With last week’s election results in Venezuela making news, Clark agreed to answer 10 questions for The Daily Caller about his book and why Americans should care about what happens in the oil-rich Latin American country:
1. Why did you write your book?
Two main reasons. First, because Chavez has truly destroyed my native country and its institutions. Second, because way too many “experts” and way too many “celebrities” praise his horrible regime, presenting it as a beautiful and just “revolution”. Whether these panegyrists are ignorant or deliberately deceitful is something I leave to my readers’ judgment.
2. As concisely as you can, who is Hugo Chavez and why should Americans care about him?
Chavez is in some ways a stereotypical Latin American tyrant. But three things distinguish him from the rest. First, his ambitions extend far beyond the borders of Venezuela. Second, he has the (oil) money which others chieftains have traditionally lacked. Finally, his anti-Americanism and his anti-Western views are truly virulent.
3. In the book, you talk about the “Chavez Lobby.” What do you mean by that?
In spite of all the posturing against lobbies (and in spite of all his unproven accusations concerning a supposed media blitz against him orchestrated by the United States government), Chavez himself spends hefty sums, millions and millions of dollars per year, in public relations in the United States and in other countries. In the book, I use evidence which is publically and easily accessible on the internet and which offers us a glimpse of Chavez’s efforts to cultivate his image.
4. What have Chavez’s policies done to the Venezuelan economy?
In short: they have ruined it. Venezuela’s ranking in terms of economic freedoms have plummeted since he seized power. In spite of strict currency exchange controls, Venezuelan currency has been devaluated many times. Chavez has in fact suggested eliminating the currency, in favor of a very modern bartering system. The infrastructure of the country is in shambles: power outages are now everyday events. Just two weeks ago or so, Chavez introduced the idea of food rationing cards, a la Cuba. And all of this has happened during the period in which the country’s oil revenue has been the highest in history.
5. How has his policies affected the political debate in Venezuela?
Political debate in Venezuela is, thanks to Chavez, effectively defunct. Since seizing power, he has not even once debated anyone. Arrogantly, he claims that “eagles [himself] do not hunt flies [any other mortal].” His preferred style is the monologue – more precisely, the eternal monologue. He talks and talks and talks, for hours on end, on national television, often forcing all broadcasters to transmit whatever it is he feels like talking about on any given occasion.
Whenever someone succeeds in somehow participating in one his fully staged and perfectly choreographed press conferences (not an easy thing to do), and asks a minimally sensible, non-adulatory question, Chavez insults him, and simply ignores the question. Just three days ago, Chavez publically humiliated a young lady journalist from France Press who asked him about the grotesque gerrymandering which his government passed a few months ago and which allowed his regime to seize roughly 64% of the seats in congress, even though he only obtained 48% of the popular vote, in the congressional elections of September 26.
NEXT: Clark talks about whether he believes Chavez is helping Iran’s nuclear program, whether Chavez would ever give up power peacefully, and what he thinks about Sean Penn and Oliver Stone’s love of Chavez
6. What do you think of people like American director Oliver Stone and actor Sean Penn who have praised Chavez and his political program effusively in the American media?
One better think that it is just stupidity and ignorance. Chavez panders to what in Spanish is very accurately described as the “izquierda boba” (the “silly left”), and celebrities like Stone and Penn just buy the posturing wholesale – without an iota of skepticism or, indeed, rigor. Of course, Chavez often insulted George W. Bush (and mostly he just insulted him: he did not really criticize him), and people like Stone, Penn, etc., seem to operate with the pedestrian “logic” according to which “Bush is Bad; Chavez insults Bush; therefore Chavez is good.” Stunningly, however, it is not just Hollywood stars who sing Chavez’s praises, but noted academic and public intellectuals as well (say, Noam Chomsky, amongst others).
7. Do you find the warnings from some U.S. analysts that Chavez is cooperating with Iran in aiding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program conceivable?
As I note in the book, I am not a spy, nor do I have access to espionage or classified materials. But the material to which I have access, which is all in the public domain, reveals that it takes great naivete not to realize that if Chavez could help Iran in its nuclear program, it would certainly do so. Chavez is on the record supporting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. If you take into account that Chavez is also on the record claiming that the United States is “the greatest evil empire which has ever existed” (and claiming that Ahmadinejad is a great defender of freedom and virtue), it is really hard not to believe that Chavez would do whatever he can to help Iran.
8. What should we make of the recent elections in Venezuela that resulted in Chavez losing his supermajority in the legislature?
Nothing much. Chavez cheats constantly. He will find a way to make the presence of the opposition in Congress meaningless. Of course, the results do offer a glimpse as to the numerical strength of the opposition to Chavez. For in spite of the gerrymandering, in spite of the intimidation, in spite of the abusive (and illegal) use of state-owned media and tax-payer monies, in the popular vote the opposition defeated Chavez.
9. Even if Chavez ultimately loses a presidential election, do you believe he would ever give up power peacefully?
I doubt it very much. There is no reason to think that he ever will give up power. He has already employed a thousand and one maneuvers in order to perpetuate himself in power. The period for which he was elected ended on March of 2004. Chavez proudly, and repeatedly, claims that he is the only mortal capable of ruling Venezuela.
10. Any plans to write another book? If so, about what?
As I point out in the preface to the book, in order to protect myself and my loved ones, I wrote this book under a pseudonym. I had never done this before, and have not done it since. I have continued writing under my real name on all sorts of other topics, and I will of course keep that up. While I in some ways regret having been forced to use a pseudonym, I am convinced that the events I present in the book needed to be shared with the general public. Since I do not envision the end of Chavez anytime soon, and while I would not be surprised if he in fact becomes even more infamous, I cannot rule out a sequel to this book. I sincerely hope, however, that I am wrong about the longevity of Chavez’s regime.