Why is Putin starting to look like a Latin American dictator?

Here’s a superficial explanation:

(1) Brazilian president-dictator Getúlio Vargas nationalized the oil industry and set up Petrobras under the slogan, “O petróleo é nosso!” If Putin is indeed behind the demise of Yukos, he might as well subscribe to the motto. The one thing that makes me curious is who exactly the first-person plural stands for.

“Everything in the name of Man; everything for the benefit of Man,” went a Soviet slogan; now the public demands (though all too quietly) to see the Man — or, rather, the Men. In black, the rumor reports — excuse me, in murine gray, KGB-issue suits.

(2) There’s a saying in Latin America attributed to Vargas: “For our friends, everything; for our enemies, the law.” This is called “rule by law” as opposed to rule of law. Putin seems to have armed himself with this principle, too.

Note the difference between Vargas or Putin and the Bolsheviks. The former used or are using quasi-legal tools to quazi-nationalize prize assets (giving them away to the cronies); the latter nationalized everything. Note also that Vargas was a genuine populist who (believed he) cared about the common man; occasionally, I get a feeling there’s nothing Putin cares a damn about.


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