Sunday, December 2, 2007

Chavez Chastised on Constitutional Changes

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's sweeping measures on Constitutional changes were rejected by his countrymen by a vote of 51% to 49%. While it was a close contest, it was a defeat nonetheless and a first electoral victory in 9 years for the opposition.

The changes sought by Chavez were viewed by opponents as a step towards dictatorship. He sought new forms of communal property, handpick local leaders of a redrawn political map, suspension of civil liberties for extended periods of state of emergencies, to indefinitely seek re-election, control of the Central Bank, and extension of his term from 6 to 7 years. He peppered the changes with carrot reforms such as shortening work day to six hours, social security for informal laborers, and creation of communal councils where citizens decided on the use of government funds.

Venezuelans didn't buy into the changes. With only 56% voter turnout, most were angered by the early morning reminders, through bullhorns and firecrackers, from men in motorbikes with their faces covered. Some likened the effort to being herded like cattle.

While being credited with doing more towards redistributing Venezuela's oil wealth, Chavez's bullying tactics may have reached intolerable levels for a majority of Venezuelans. The opposition, composed mostly of the Church, NGO's and human rights groups were thus given momentum after nearly a decade of debacles.

Hugo Chavez has the opportunity to become the
voice of the emerging countries intent on self-determination , however, this has eluded him due to his obnoxious deportment and ill mannered disposition. He has called Bush the Devil, donkey, drunkard, genocidal assassin, and coward; been quoted as accusing America of dynamiting the twin towers during 9/11, and calling the US an impotent empire. While I have no argument with the basic premises (except 9/11) of his famous quotes, it is inappropriate language for a Head of State, especially in diplomatic circles.

In referring to George Bush, he could have restated it to: "President Bush personifies the vilest and most diabolical form of evil, intoxicated with the darkest force of unmatched power, feasting on the sea of misery borne out of the blood of entire populations, executed for the benefit of profit and greed of the few behind him." The problem here is, both Bush and Chavez are clowns of opposite inclinations. Bush is funny because of his fumbling and unintelligent utterances, while Chavez is funny because of his acid tongue and street-like behavior. Both are tiresome and no longer entertaining.

King Juan Carlos of Spain had admonished Hugo Chavez to "Shut Up", which the latter did not heed. His own countrymen in Venezuela have now forced him to shut up. For how long, we don't know, but the silence is a welcome respite. Now, how do we make George Bush swallow his tongue? Hmmmmmmm.


1 comment:

The All Seeing Eye said...

It was great to see Chavez get stopped at the ballot box. He has been moving to consolidate his power like Hitler was doing in Germany during the 30's.