Just Say No

December 3, 2007

In further, and hopefully final, news on the Venezuelan constitutional reform front, (which I talked about earlier here,)  Chavez’s proposed reforms were defeated in the public referendum, 51% to 49%. Given his almost complete lack of opposition in the Venezuelan Congress, these reforms were starting to seem inevitable, so I was both surprised and relieved to hear that the public had voted them down.

The NPR story from this morning noted that the “No” campaign had been aided by some recent rather high profile “defections” from Chavez’s camp:

High-profile defections had strengthened the opposition in recent weeks. Among them was the former Chavez loyalist and Defense Minister Raul Baduel. He stepped down this summer and later condemned the constitutional package Chavez proposed as an undemocratic grab for power.

“The nature of the Constitution does not permit one side or another to compromise it,” Baduel said. “It is a contract … between the people and the state.”

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Hugo Chavez: Ex-hero of the people?

October 26, 2007

It’s catalog season again! As a young single person who’s been moving a lot since college, I don’t get nearly as many as, say, my parents, but since I’ve been living in my current apartment for slightly more than 2 years now, they’re starting to roll in. One that I’m actually legitimately on the mailing list for is the Syracuse Cultural Workers, since I ordered some buttons from them at one point. Full of feel-good, liberal, power to the people “tools for change,” it’s got some fun stuff to look at. But I’ve been torn over one item they’ve had for a while: the Hugo Chavez poster.

Syracuse Cultural Workers Hugo Chavez poster

If you click on the image, you can better see the poster’s message, which reads, “The hurricane of revolution has begun, and it will never be calmed. -Hugo Chavez, presidente de Venezuela.” Given how much Chavez and Venezuelan politics have been in the news lately, I flipped through my latest SCW catalog the first time specifically to see if they still had the poster listed. They didn’t, though, as you can see above, they do still appear to have it on the website. I don’t actually know if this was a conscious decision on their part, or simply due to the fact that they’re a non-profit and can’t afford to put every item in the print catalog every time. If it was a conscious decision, though, I can certainly understand.

For those who may not have been keeping up with Latin American politics, Chavez has proposed a bunch of constitutional reforms that are due to go up for a ratification soon. Here’s a recent BBC article summarizing what’s happening right now. In a nutshell, two of his main reforms would be removing presidential term limits and increasing the current term from six to seven years. (See Hilary’s post on presidential term limits for further discussion of that particular issue.) Other reforms would increase presidential control over the central bank. He is currently in his second term, having been reelected last year, but the opposition party so strongly objected to his policies that they (unwisely) protested by withdrawing from those elections, leaving only his supporters in parliament. Sort of does away with the idea of checks and balances, doesn’t it?

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