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article imageOp-Ed: Trouble Brewing for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela?

By Johnny Simpson     Aug 13, 2008 in World
In a brilliant FrontPage article by Gustavo Coronel, who served in the Venezuelan Congress before its dissolving by Chavez and is now a declared enemy of the state, Mr. Coronel analyzes some startling developments in Venezuela vis-a-vis Hugo Chavez.
It would seem that Hugo Chavez' dictatorial chickens are coming home to roost in Venezuela and could spell BIG trouble for both El Presidente and his troubled nation.
More from the esteemed Mr. Coronel, courtesy of FrontPage Magazine:
The mood that permeates Venezuela today is one that seems to signal impending doom for autocratic Hugo Chavez. The lyrics of Paul Anka’s “My Way” seem to float in the Caracas air: “And now, the end is near… ”.
Three moves by Chavez, all taken during the last month, comprise his attempt to maintain control over an increasingly frustrated country. The first one is the passing, on the very last day of the period of legislative power granted to him by the National Assembly, of 26 decree-laws that will give him most of the powers that he tried to get, unsuccessfully, through the December 2007 Constitutional referendum.
Defeated by the voters in the referendum, he is now using this blunt force to obtain what the popular vote denied him. No one in the country, except those who drew up the over 2000 articles of the new decrees, knew about them in advance or had a chance to discuss them. In another major move, Chavez used his General Comptroller and the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to ban 260 Venezuelans from running for office in the November regional elections. Not surprisingly, several of the best candidates of the opposition, favored to win by all polls, are included in the ban, which openly violates articles 42 and 65 of the current Venezuelan Constitution.
To complicate matters even further, a delegation from MERCOSUR, the South American free trade organization, visited Caracas to investigate the ban and found it undemocratic, which will prevent Chavez and Venezuela from joining the organization
There's much more at Mr. Coronel's article linked above.
No wonder he was declared an enemy of the state by Chavez. But I digress.
In addition to the above developments and complications for Chavez and the Venezuelan people, there are many others as well. For one, Chavez seized control of the Banco de Venezuela from Spain only days after trying to mend relations with the king after their much publicized contretemps late last year.
Of the 26 decrees Mr. Chavez enacted, one of them would make him a four-star generalissimo, a rank that does not exist in Venezuela today. This act would put him in the same company with dictators Benito Mussolini of Italy and Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain.
To complement all that, another decree would create a new standing army, loyal to Chavez and not to the nation. This is eerily reminiscent of Hitler's armed forces, the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, which swore allegiance to Hitler the man, not to Germany. Big difference.
Here is where affairs seem to stand now, again from Mr. Coronel:
Leaders of the opposition, including industrialist Rafael Alfonzo and recent Milton Friedman award winner and student leader Jon Goicochea, are calling for a popular rebellion, including, if need be, a general strike against the Chavez regime, while members of his own political coalition are speaking in open disagreement with the measures.
The takeover of Banco de Venezuela has pushed the country risk of Venezuela to record highs, now 679 points -- highest in the hemisphere. The fear of private investors is turning into terror as some of the decrees, especially one on “food sovereignty,” could justify the takeover of important privately-owned food companies.
In this DJ's humble opinion, Hugo Chavez has bitten off more than he can chew with an electorate and a people who love a free and democratic Venezuela more than they love him. Most Venezuelans, unlike the Chinese or Iranians, have known freedom and democracy for most of their lives, and I suspect they will not part with it without a fight, which seems to be the case developing there now.
As an aside, one real question is this: in the face of all these anti-democratic developments in Venezuela, will Joe Kennedy continue to accept underprice deliveries of Citgo oil to help Massachusetts people even as it harms Venezuelans? Will the Useful Idiot A-List abandon Chavez?
I think not, if the Left's love of Castro is any barometer. Joe K's drunk on Citgo oil and Danny Glover has a few film projects in development there. The show must go on, ey wot?
(I find it supremely ironic that Danny Glover's doing a film about an epic slave revolt in Haiti as Venezuela teeters on the precipice of its own. Art imitating life, or vice-versa?)
All things considered, Chavez seems to be in the middle of a gathering political storm that may yet consume him, drive him from office and return true democracy to Venezuela. Best case scenario.
I'm smelling sulphur, and it ain't Bush.
Hope springs eternal.
One thing I do know for sure is this: when Venezuela is free again, I will drink a toast to her and the Venezuelan people who suffer under the bridle and whip of Hugo Chavez no more.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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