When Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez flew to Tripoli in 2004 to receive the Moammar Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, he joined a select club. Other recipients of the prize include Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. This should not be surprising. It is no coincidence that the prize has been awarded to some of the most tyrannical and anti-American yet clownish despots in the Third World. They share those qualities, and a hatred of individual liberty, with Qaddafi. The relationship between Qaddafi and those “laureates” has been long and involved, going back in the case of Castro and Ortega to cooperation in terrorist wars in the 1970s and ’80s.
Although Chávez was a latecomer, he lost no time in consummating the friendship and joining the club. In 2009, during an official state visit by Qaddafi to Venezuela, Chávez bestowed upon him the Order of Simón Bolívar, Venezuela’s highest honor, and famously said, “What Simón Bolívar is to Venezuela, Qaddafi is to Libya.” In reality, Bolívar was an admirer of George Washington and the architect of the independence of six existing nations of South America. Bolívar today would be called a democrat in the classical sense, certainly not a candidate for the Qaddafi Prize.