oldschool CxC

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

May 2006 Atlantic has an article on the talented Mr. Chavez, subscription only. I never trust any leader who's appraoch to the constitution's prohibition against additional terms is to amend the constitution. Especially twice. Especially after serving time in prison for engineering a military coup against a democratic government. Then, the money quote:

...he has led the country in a more authoritarian direction only slowly, carefully calibrating his repressive measures so that they are too incremental to trigger popular outrage. When his opponents describe the prevailing atmosphere, they begin with the “Tascón List.” In 2003 and 2004, petitions circulated demanding referenda to recall the president—just the sort of people-empowering action enshrined as a right in the 1999 constitution. Soon thereafter, a list of the petitioners’ names and national identification numbers mysteriously appeared on the Web site of a pro-Chávez congressman named Luis Tascón. The government began denying these petitioners passports, government contracts, and public welfare. Two years ago, in a statement that he later recanted, the health minister brashly declared that any ministry employee who signed the list would be fired, “because [the petition] is an act of terrorism.”

Media intimidation has begun as well. The Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, passed in 2004, allows the government to suspend stations that “promote, defend, or incite breaches of public order or that are contrary to the security of the nation.” The law has cowed the television networks, once devoted to dropping rhetorical napalm on the regime. Venevision, once a particularly notorious anti-Chavista bastion, is now known as the Disney Channel, for its increasing abundance of cartoons and bland newscasts.

By adding twelve new chairs to the twenty-seat supreme court, and packing them with loyalists, Chávez has begun to domesticate the courts as well. He proudly presented the new jurists like a trophy at the opening of the court’s 2006 session. With the president in attendance, the robed justices rose to their feet and began to sing a favored chant of their benefactor: Uh, ah, Chávez no se va” (“Uh, ah, Chávez is not leaving”).


Of course, blasting the US generates predictable results:

This anti-American bent has helped make Hugo Chávez a hero of the international Left—a title that he has aggressively courted. Long before he took over the presidency, Chávez planned Bolivarian congresses bringing together Latin America’s indigenous movements and leftist parties. As president, he has built a public-relations machine to woo Americans and Western Europeans of a certain sensibility. His government has placed self-promotional ads in The New Yorker and The New York Times. He has hired staff from Global Exchange, which helped organize the massive protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999, to run a Venezuelan Information Office in Washington.

This outreach has turned Caracas into a refugee camp for socialists displaced since the tumultuous events of 1989. Chávez’s presidential palace harbors French and American activists. Marta Harnecker, the Chilean Marxist who wrote the seminal defense of the Cuban revolution, has an office there, too. Chávez routinely holds court with star academics and activists—from the anti-war icon Cindy Sheehan to Princeton philosopher Cornel West to the British essayist Tariq Ali—who return from Venezuela announcing the marvels of Chavismo, his amalgamation of anti-Americanism, Bolivarian independence, and Castro-tinged socialism. “We in the United States [hear] so many lies about President Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution,” West declared in January. “This revolution is real.”


I encourage you to read the whole article, which is not as pointed as these quotes.

3 Comments:

Blogger REkz said...

Thanks for the post. Guess we ARE staying political for awhile?

> Uh, ah, Chávez no se va”
> (“Uh, ah, Chávez is not
> leaving”).
Actually, 'no se va' can be an order or request, ie "don't go", or "please don't go". It could also translate to what you wrote.

Not sure why this is so 'outrageous'? Any politician gets that kind of BS.
Or is it b/c our Supreme Court doesn't chant Bush's name? Most people know Bush has way to much clout in there for real check & balance of powers.

True, Chavez is quite likely going to pursue a dictatorial angle. However, I see him as more benevolent than the corporate wealth that he fights, although he has an enormous ego. And maybe he needs that?

Frankly, I think it's worth listening to Chavez' words and actions.

I do see there is something wrong with changing the constitution to extend your presidency -- but it's the same thing that is wrong with
a) suspending civil rights when a SUPPOSED war is taking place (Patriot Act)
b) passing partisan tax laws allowing wealthy people to escape more taxation & trying to make them permanent -- and then diverting public social spending (400bil/yr) into the private sector (I mean, military sector).
c) having between 1-2 billion $ be LOST in a war against non-agressors under the watch of a no-bid contract winner Haliburton, while the former CEO is VP
d) trying to throw civil rights back 100's of years w/repressive legislation, revocation of the vote, rigged voting machines, and then not responding to natural disasters in poor black areas
e) taking actions (or non-actions) to bring about Martial Law or pushing for absolute control in the event of any major catastrophe (bird flu, hurricane, tsunami, etc)
f) planning to use nuclear weapons as a deterrant to nuclear proliferation (??? Hard to even say ???)
g) violating international accords (Geneva Convention) by attacking non-aggressing countries and torturing people not accused of offenses.

I could probably do the whole alphabet, but the point is --> when I read you talking about Chavez, the worst of his accusations seem double (or more) when we talk about Bush. I can honestly say I haven't heard Bush say a single thing that resonates with me, or that I trust him about.

His presidency has been so corrupt, I completely distrust the media. At least w/Chavez, we already knew Venezuela's media was corrupted by money.

When Chavez talks about Christianity, it's not the Crusades kind. I don't get worried, b/c he's not talking about the apocalypse, but salvation.

When Bush talks, I'm frequently worried. My major concern is that I think he sees himself as the expeditor of the apocalypse.

But maybe not. I suppose there's a rational explanation for torturing Muslim extremists 'to prevent a Jyhad', or not taking action against global warming, or allowing deficit spending beyond even Reagan's former caps, or ...?

The hard part w/Bush is when to STOP listing horrible violations of rationality.

I often wonder, if THIS is the good guy, how bad are the BAD guys? I mean, Bush almost makes the Chinese government look good!

6:08 PM  
Blogger Sony said...

You are so such a white boy. You can't maintain a discussion about a Latin American leader without talking about America this, our president that, etc, etc. What an American-o-centric, rascist view point.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

"Hey Ari, I don't think you're allowed to turn right on red here."

"But BUSH always turns right on red, and he installed this sign to further oppress the working class!"

"Uh..."

"BUSH! BUSH BAD! BUSH BUSH BUSH!"

7:45 PM  

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