Friendly Latin leader miffs Dems

Sunday’s Washington Post expressed editorial shock at the way leading Democrats seemed to go out of their way to insult Colombian President Alvaro Uribe during his visit to this country last week.

Uribe, as the Post noted, may be the most popular elected politician in the world with an approval rating in his own country above 80 percent. His reelection to a second four-year term last year with more than 62 percent of the vote made the Harvard-educated Colombian the only president of his country to win reelection in more than a century.

From all accounts, he’s earned the support of his own people. As president, he has driven the left-wing guerillas from the towns and cities of Colombia, cutting the murder rate in half and reducing the endemic kidnappings that have plagued the country for years by 75 percent. He’s in the process of disbanding the paramilitary that formed over the years to fight the
Communists and narco-terrorists and has vowed to bring those guilty of human-rights abuses to justice.

He hasn’t solved all of Colombia’s problems, but unlike his predecessors, he’s made a start. He is, on top of all this, a staunch friend of the U.S. Why, then, wonders the Post, would Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreHamas attacks Israel — and the world condemns Israel Al Gore: Trump should fire Pruitt Dems seize on gun control heading into midterms MORE refuse to appear on the same platform with him and would House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) “scold” Uribe on her lack of faith in what he’s doing?

As the Post editorialist points out, Gore wants us to sit down with the likes of Kim Jong Il and Iran’s Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, but is not himself willing even to meet with Uribe. For her part, Pelosi was perfectly happy to travel all the way to Syria to cozy up and whisper sweet nothings into the ear of that nation’s dictatorial ruler, but wasn’t capable of being very nice at all to one of this country’s hemispheric allies.

The answer is simple enough. Uribe is a friend of this country and actually chooses to work with rather than attack us. In the eyes of our liberal elites, he just can’t measure up to true Latin and South American leaders like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, and for that failure he must suffer.

Anyone who has ever doubted that such a double standard exists need only look at the way the American left has reacted to two leaders to our south. They would, of course, be Fidel Castro and Augusto Pinochet. The Cuban Communist is regarded as a hero of almost mythic proportions by American liberals in spite of a human-rights record in Cuba that ranked him as one of the world’s most brutal Communist leaders and drove millions of his countrymen to flee.

Many college students even today seem to worship Fidel and his fellow revolutionaries. Like the Soviet Communists on whom they patterned their revolution, they are seen as caring humanitarians who, while they may occasionally get carried away, have the best interests of their people at heart. This view persists in spite of the empirical evidence suggesting that decades of Communist rule in Cuba have left the people of the island in bondage and poorer than their neighbors in virtually every direction.

Compare the regard for Castro with the hatred and disdain that even the mention of the late Augusto Pinochet of Chile’s name generates. The man was hounded until his death by liberal and human-rights advocates who wanted him tried, convicted and perhaps hanged for the way he pursued his revolution. Historians can argue about which dictator was more brutal in individual cases, but the numbers who have died or been imprisoned and tortured in Cuba make Pinochet seem a piker by contrast.

While there was a dark side to his rule, unlike Cuba’s Communists, Pinochet gave up power voluntarily and, in fact, bequeathed his people a democracy and economic system that works far better than that cobbled together by the ragtag Marxists who have ruled Cuba for half a century. Chile today is both free and prosperous by any yardstick one chooses, and yet American liberals are still more worked up about Pinochet than Castro.

Anyone who thinks this isn’t evidence of an ideologically driven double standard must be from another planet. A consistent human-rights purist might easily condemn both Castro and Pinochet, but only the most blatant of hypocrites can take the illogical position exhibited by liberals like Gore, Pelosi and many others who cozy up to every anti-American left-winger on the planet while consistently condemning anyone who even hints at wanting to work with the U.S.

It was this double standard that was on display last week during the Uribe visit and makes one wonder how the newly elected pro-American president of France will be treated if he ever shows up on our shores.

Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, can be reached at