Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chavez the dictator

The headlines are coming thick and fast at the moment. Chavez is trying to make himself President for life, or you may prefer endless presidential terms. He's going to expel foreigners who criticise him. He's also closing down opposition TV stations.

There is nothing he will not do, the man is a terrible, terrible cad.

Although, having said that, there may be the tiniest amount of bias in the press. No, no, hear me out, it is possible, although extremely unlikely, that sometimes an atom, no half an atom, of a political agenda sneaks into the Great Institution of the Press.

But he wants to be dictator for life doesn't he?

No. There are moves to change the section of the constitution which prevents anyone standing for more than two terms as the country's leader. Like Tony Blair did, and Marge Thatcher, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Did the Telegraph, Times and Guardian form an unholy alliance against them? No.

But he is chucking foreigners out who criticise him... the racist!

No. This is not a blanket ban on citizens of other countries living in Venezuela and having critical views. Chavez has said that foreign dignitaries that abuse their position to undermine the elected government of Venezuela will be asked to leave. If the Iranian Ambassador made public pronouncements for a coup in this country would anyone complain if we sent him home? No.

But he did close down that opposition TV station, which shows he is opposed to freedom of speech.

It is beyond doubt that large sections of the privately owned media not only backed the coup against Chavez but knew about it before it happened and were complicit in the plot. The coup was not a fantasy, it was a real political event that has shaped Venezualan politics from that day to this.

Chavez, once reinstated, took no action what so ever against the media who were, when all is said and done, engaged in criminal acts of the highest order and were unrepentant. When the licence came up for renewal on one of these stations the government said they were not fit to be a broadcaster and did not renew. Rightly.

If you compare the freedom to criticise in Venezuela to their neighbour Colombia we begin to see exactly what "our friends" can get up to without criticism and that "our enemies" will be painted as demons no matter what they do.

In Colombia journalists and political oppositionists are routinely murdered with the complicity of the state. Press freedom is severely restricted. Trade unions are viciously repressed. Amnesty International cites extrajudicial executions carried out by the security forces, war criminals going unprosecuted, killings of civilians by armed opposition groups, and the forced displacement of civilian communities.

But the Colombia government are our friends so instead of telling lies about them, making out one of the most democratic regimes in Latin America is ruled by an iron fist dictator, we pretend they are ok. Here I have produced a handy formula for any journalists who may be reading this so they know what to say in their next Latin American report;

Death squads + US backing = "friend to democracy"
Political reform + US opposition = "dictatorship"


Frank Partisan said...

I agree with every word of your post.

Duncan said...

That's a damn good article Jimjay, nicely done.

When the next person whines about Chavez to me, as if I was personally responsible, I'll direct them to this page.

Lotus said...

The comparison with Colombia is telling.

I would, however, offer one minor point, which is that references to FDR do not advance the argument. It was the fact that FDR was elected four times that produced the 22nd Amendment, adopted in 1951, limiting a president to two terms - the general feeling was that no president should serve longer than that. Chavez's proposal goes in the opposite direction.

My thoughts on the unlimited terms part of his proposals can be found here is anyone is interested.

MC Fanon said...

Cheers. Chavez's new efforts remove any doubt as to both the democratic and the socialist quality of the new Venezuelan government.

JayV said...

John Pilger's documentary on the US assault on Central & South American democracy is up on GoogleVid over at The Tomb . Go:view.

David R. Adler said...

Good of you to link to Amnesty and RSF reports on Colombia; perhaps you should do the same with those groups' highly critical reports on Chavez, but that would certainly undermine your case. That things are bad in Colombia doesn't mean that things are ok in Venezuela.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this article is it completely omits many of the other steps Chavez has taken towards making Venezuela a dictatorship. The most prominent example was the law passed which gave Chavez the right to nationlize any company/industry he wished, without going through the legislature. Between his drive to eliminate legislative oversight over his actions and his desire for an unlimited term as leader, Chavez is mirroring many of Hitler's political moves before he assumed the role of dictator.

Liz said...

Great post! Of course, as others pointed out, that doesn't mean that Chavez is completely without fault. But thanks for pointing out the inaccuracies/selective truth in corporate media.

Anonymous said...

Are you people nuts?

"Chavez, once reinstated, took no action what so ever against the media..."

Obviously you have no need for journalistic integrity when you're not reporting the truth.

Why don't you guys try reading some articles with a biased P.O.V. You might learn something about Venezuala and the big deep hole Chavez is digging for himself and the future of Venezuala. Has anyone been to Cuba recently? Communism has worked for him hasn't it? Starvation; Imprisonment; Unemployment; Wow! Communism. What a concept~

Fox? LOL But not CNN right? LOL