Venezuela gets a 'birther' conspiracy theory

This is too funny. Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles last week demanded that President Nicolás Maduro, political heir to Hugo Chávez, clarify his citizenship status: "Where were you born, Nicolás? Venezuelans want to know. Will you lie? Show your birth certificate." It began with the claim that Caracas-born Maduro—son of a Colombian mother and Venezuelan father—holds a dual Venezuelan-Colombian citizenship, which would disqualify him from the presidency. But it quickly escalated as the opposition began distributing a supposed facsimile of his birth certificate, showing that Maduro was born in Cúcuta, Colombia. The Colombian authorities (no friends of the chavistas, needless to say) immediately issued a statement dismissing the facsimile as a crude forgery. (Bloomberg, Aug. 2) This is made doubly amusing by the fact that during the presidential race last year, chavistas utilized ugly propaganda implying that Capriles' nativist creds were in question because of his Jewish ancestry.

The latest inflammation of the ongoing US-Venezuela spat came last month when Maduro demanded that Washington repudiate a statement by Samantha Power, newly appointed as UN ambassador, that Venezuela, along with Cuba, Iran and Russia, is guilty of a "crackdown on civil society." (Fox News Latino, July 19) Well, maybe it is. But has Power ever had anything to say about the immensely more vigorous crackdown on civil society in Colombia, South America's biggest recipient of US aid by far?

Just asking.