Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fidel Lite

Hugo Chavez is quickly turning into Fidel Castro, except that Hugo has oil. And Hugo doesn't have to worry about US sanctions (for now) or hurricanes. Chavez is trying to get the 'Legislature' to adopt provisions letting Chavez remain as 'president' until 2030.

Flawed elections, combined with nearly 75% of the voters refusing to participate in the elections are just the tip of this iceberg.
Before we answer, let's look at what happened. As you may know, Venezuela's five largest opposition parties decided to boycott the legislative elections, citing that Chávez ran the National Election Commission at his will and bent all the rules in his favor.

With a minuscule voter turnout of only 25 percent, Chávez won all 167 seats of the National Assembly, Venezuela's Congress. Now, Chávez will have full control of all levers of power, including the armed forces, Congress, the Supreme Court and the electoral commission. From now on, there will not be even a pretense of separation of powers.

The big question is whether this will move the international community to take distance from Chávez, as Venezuela's opposition hopes, or whether most Latin American and European countries will shrug and say, ``if the opposition didn't participate, they've asked for it. Chávez is a democratically elected president, and he's thus legitimate.''

Venezuela's pro-Chávez president of Congress, Nicolas Maduro, told supporters Tuesday the election will allow ''an acceleration of the revolution.'' He celebrated the fact that ''this newly elected assembly will pass laws to allow Chávez not only to rule until 2021 [as Chávez has proposed], but until 2030,'' the daily El Universal reported Wednesday.
That sounds real democratic folks. Castro never had it so easy.

And Chavez is far from legitimate, despite what the rest of the world may think in some deepseated realpolitik. The earlier elections were flawed, and despite Jimmy Carter's stamp of approval, are considered quite suspect. Widespread fraud was reported in those elections, and that was one of the primary factors behind so much of the absentions in this round of elections.

Totalitarian dictators routinely held elections, which were rigged, and got nearly 100% of the vote. A vote, in and of itself, does not lend legitimacy. Venezuela is in the clutches of a totalitarian dictator, and the Venezuelan people are realizing this - but will they have the wherewithall to put him where he belongs; prison? It's still too soon to tell.

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