chavez’s changes

Posted on August 16, 2007

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It is extremely worrying what Hugo Chavez is trying to bring about in Venezuela. He is on course to run the country aground, even if he cannot, and will not see it.

Just today, the Venezuelan president announced plans to change the constitution that would inevitably allow him to prolong his power and erode democratic institutions in the country.

Some radical changes include allowing him to run for re-election with no term limits (current rules would have limited his rule to 2012), increasing the term of office for the presidency from six to seven years and strengthening the power of the presidency at the expense of state rights.

Other proposed changes that would consolidate more power in the hands of the president are the ending of the Venezuelan central bank’s autonomy, which would allow the presidency access to its coffers that have been recently fattened by the oil boom. This is a frightening prospect for the country’s economic health in the long term, given how Chavez had spent the country’s oil wealth to further his socialist causes, such as giving generous aid to other Latin American countries with the political motives of gaining influence over them, but with little regard to fiscal responsibility and prudence for Venezuela’s long-term economic health.

Another proposal that could portend disaster for Venezuela’s economy is the shortening of working hours from the current maximum of eight hours daily, down to six. He also proposed the creation of a popular militia, another sure sign that Chavez wants to cultivate forces that would be friendly to him.

Though Chavez denies it, he is moving to erode Venezuela’s democratic institutions and practices and laying the foundation for his indefinite and Cuban-style communist rule — all alarming prospects.

Chavez has nationalized many industries such as the energy industry. He has also shut down media outlets that are critical of him and his policies, such as Venezuela’s oldest TV station in May.

The country’s legislative body, the National Assembly, is likely to approve the changes easily, as Chavez and his allies have a majority in it.

The next step after that is to bring the changes before the electorate for a referendum.

Hopefully, Venezuelans will see his plans for what they truly are — an attempt by a megalomaniacal dictator to extend his powers and quell checks and balances, and reject him and his plans decisively.

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Posted in: politics, venezuela