Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

January 20, 2007

Chavez To Declare Himself Dictator

by Doug Mataconis

Making official something that was really quite apparent, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is on the verge of being given dictatorial power, and freedom continues to silently die south of the border:

Venezuela’s National Assembly has given initial approval to a bill granting the president the power to bypass congress and rule by decree for 18 months.

President Hugo Chavez says he wants “revolutionary laws” to enact sweeping political, economic and social changes.

He has said he wants to nationalise key sectors of the economy and scrap limits on the terms a president can serve.

Mr Chavez began his third term in office last week after a landslide election victory in December.

The bill allowing him to enact laws by decree is expected to win final approval easily in the assembly on its second reading on Tuesday.

This is hardly surprising considering that the National Assembly is completely controlled by Chavez’s party, but it is still somewhat shocking to see people voluntarily vote themselves into servitude.

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  • Paul Escobar

    1) The bill grants the executive powers only in SPECIFIC areas. And there is an 18 month LIMIT to the bill. It can be withdrawn at any time, by Venezuela’s elected congress.

    2) A freely elected* Congress has legally voted to pass this bill. (*Monitored, Investigated, & Approved by the OAS)

    It’s purpose is to speed up the nationalizations of key industries (which is the basis of Chavez’s re-election by the Venezuelan public).

    The traditional opposition chose not to have a vote by not participating in the congessional elections. They knew that they would have gained only 30% popular support vs. 60% for Venezuelan nationalists.

    The OAS secretary general warned them that their voices would only count if they put themselves to the electoral test (which the OAS verified as being free and fair).

    They chose not to, tough luck.

    3) For those of you without short-term memory…President Chavez was already granted the same temporary powers in 2001. He passed 49 law-decrees. Then the powers expired. Everything went back to normal.

    4) Are you calling elected President Chavez a “dictator”? Then you’re also calling Venezuela’s past (right-wing) elected President Andres Perez a “dictator” as well. Former President Andres Perez enacted the same type of temporary law when he was in power.

  • Buck Houchin

    Venezuela is an example that shows that traditional western capitalism does not work in the third word. When a huge majority of a population is in harsh poverty, uneducated and exploited by one corrupt regime after another, any criminal, with resources, can play Robin Hood and steal from the opportunistic rich and toss crumbs to the poor. This is what Chavez has done and his oil money makes him extremely dangerous. I the mold of Saddam, Chavez will make his people pay.
    Unfortuneately, the West has no alternative to third world crazies. Until we are willing to admit that traditional democracy does not work where corruption and ignorance prevail. It even is even less workable than the UN.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    Paul,

    Do you not agree that this gets Venezuela one big step closer to a dictatorship? Notice that one of the main things Chavez wants to change is to end term limits on the Presidency.

    It doesn’t look like a very positive sign.

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  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/11/22/comrades-i-hereby-declare-the-revolution/ Adam Selene

    Venezuela is an example that shows that traditional western capitalism does not work in the third word.

    No, it shows that western corporatism doesn’t work.

    When a huge majority of a population is in harsh poverty, uneducated and exploited by one corrupt regime after another, ….

    Kinda like Scotland, ca. 1680. The point, of course, is that Scotland went on to be the cradle of the Enlightenment and Liberalism, completely transforming itself.

    It’s not harsh poverty and lack of education that is the problem. It’s not capitalism that’s the problem.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Paul,

    Just because a “freely elected” Congress passed this bill doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Unless, of course, you believe that democracy is an end in itself in which case the fact that democracy sanctions a leader who has absolutely no respect for human rights probably doesn’t bother you.

  • A. G

    I am a Venezuelan who used to be pro Chavez. But today I have to confess I am extremely worried of what the future holds.

    Corruption, nepotism and a sense of anarchy have grabbed hold of all institutions.

    No one dares to contradict the President as he is surrounded by people that are not qualified to hold the positions they have secured by being so called loyals to the regime.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Paul,

    So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.

  • Paul Escobar

    Brad Warbiany:
    ……………..

    Sir, the statement you made is highly misleading.

    You give the impression that Chavez will change the constitution so that he will NEVER be put to the electoral test again.

    In fact, he’s proposing that he be allowed to be tested again and again. He proposed ending the limit on HOW MANY TIMES a leader can RUN FOR ELECTIONS.

    This is common in the Parliamentary system of many nations. If I’m not mistaken, Switzerland does not have a limit on the number of times a candidate can stand for elections. This does not mean Switzerland & Venezuela are “moving closer to dictatorship”.

    I suggest you read what Chavez actually said:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4731742.stm

  • Paul Escobar

    Doug Mataconis:
    …………….

    Sir, your original topic stated that “Chavez declares himself dictator”. You can understand why I felt the need to correct you in my original post.

    As for your allegations about “human rights abuses”, you conveniently ignore the greatest human rights abuse. Namely, that of the 2002 violent takeover of the government, executed by Venezuela’s opposition.

    Instead of facing elections, they convinced the upper echelons of the armed forces to kidnap President Chavez. They tore up the nations constitution and installed Pedro Carmona as leader. Ari Fleisher and Colin Powel welcomed the event by the way.

    The reaction was that Venezuelan civil society protested on the street. And the infantry secured his release. Chavez returned to power, without declaring himself a leader with “god-like” totalitarian powers.

    Chavez did not stage mass executions of the coup-participants. He forgave and let them off with a warning. Many were legally investigated, few were ever brought to justice.

    In fact, none of us can truly say that George Bush would pardon the Democratic party if they tried something similar. Barak Obam, Wesley Clark, and all that bunch would be lined up and shot.

    So forgive me for not underestimating Venezuela’s dedication to democracy.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    Paul,

    What we see is Chavez centralizing power, removing checks on his leadership, and moving closer and closer to being a true dictator. What we’re seeing is a move away from the rule of law and to the rule of Chavez and his political cronies.

    Yes, there are still elections, and yes, there is still (nominally) a Parliament. But the trend is for Chavez to weaken both institutions to ensure they’re not a threat to his Presidency.

  • Paul Escobar

    Kevin:
    ………….

    Sir, no nation lives up to the ideal of 100% liberty.

    All states, including the United States and Venezuela, fail to be totally free.

    Christ suggested: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

    If NBC urged people to participate in a coup against the elected President Bush, chose to lie about his whereabouts when he was kidnapped, and refused to broadcast his return to power…

    How would you react?
    How would you expect President Bush to react?

    I would suggest that Congress would shut down said station. Not only that, it round up any participants related to that station. And I doubt “Liberty” proponents here would raise hell over it.

    …..

    Well, when the opposition in Venezuela launched a violent coup against the elected Chavez administration (in 2002):
    – I guess that there would be no “Liberty” post decrying the tearing up of the constitution, kidnapping of the President, and condemnation of the media who cheered it on.
    – And I doubt any of you watched the RCTV announcers cheerleading the coup everyday on live TV. It should be noted that RCTV’s own transcripts bear witness to their illegal behaviour.

    Now, when the guilty Venezuelan station RCTV is denied a liscence to broadcast on public airwaves, I bear witness to posts like the above.

    Yet, the only punishment they face is the revokation of a licsence to broadcast on PUBLIC airwaves. They’re still free to operate, trash the president, ON CABLE.

    I rest. And merely suggest that things are not so simplistic as you assume.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    If NBC urged people to participate in a coup against the elected President Bush, chose to lie about his whereabouts when he was kidnapped, and refused to broadcast his return to power…

    How would you react?
    How would you expect President Bush to react?

    What Bush would do is irrelevant and does not excuse Chavez’s dictatorship. What should be done is absolutely nothing. NBC has the right to broadcast whatever it wants.

  • Tyler

    “What should be done is absolutely nothing. NBC has the right to broadcast whatever it wants.”

    yeah, except for FCC regulations on “decency”, things like that. Try again.

  • http://belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Tyler,

    What gives the FCC the right to regulate broadcasting to begin with ?

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