Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Dece vrei sa stii?"

("Why do you want to know?")

Drudge links to a story delineating Chavez's vision to force Venezuelans to spy on each other. Quote:

"The new law requires people in the country to comply with requests to assist the agencies, secret police or community activist groups loyal to Chávez. Refusal can result in prison terms of two to four years for most people and four to six years for government employees." (Read on: Chávez decree tightens hold on intelligence)

As a missionary in Romania from 1995 - 1997, I ran into rampant suspicion and skepticism. Much more often than not when asking a neighbor or 'stander-by' if they knew when a person I was looking for might return or if the person was 'around', I would get the ever quick reply of "Dece vrei sa stii?" (meaning: "Why do you want to know?"). Without fail, this phrase came packaged in an inflection and look of complete suspicion.

The "Dece vrei sa stii?" syndrome was only one of many symptoms evidencing over half a century of soft (and sometimes hard) tyranny from dictators like Chavez. No doubt, Romania's own "Secret Police," which similarly 'recruited' (read: 'FORCED!') citizens to spy on neighbors was one of many suppressive tactics that created this mentality.

After two years in that beloved country I came to know more than a few people who, to varying degrees, suffered the wrath of false accusation, where penalties varied from detention and interrogation, to beatings, or even imprisonment.

I recall meeting an elderly atheist who ironically loved the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In the unlikely setting of communist Romania, he came across one of the Choir's albums and sneaked it home. He shared how he used to hide in his basement with his record player and quietly listen to the album, as he was terrified of being heard listening to this 'American religious music'. That music, however, was his escape during the darker periods of communism.

God help the people of Venezuela that Chavez not get his way. Chavez shows all the makings of a tyrant. Slowly, though surely, coiling around the neck of that people like a python.

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