[Marxism] Why Hugo Chávez Was Given More Authority
Dbachmozart at aol.com
Dbachmozart at aol.com
Sat Feb 3 11:39:47 MST 2007
By Maria Páez Victor, PhD.
2 February 2007
This week, the parliament of Venezuela gave President Hugo Chávez, the
authority to pass laws by decree for the next 18 months on 10 issues of domestic
importance. This type of power has a time limit and an issue limit and is
specifically allowed by Article 203 of the Venezuelan constitution.
It is not the first time President Chávez has been allowed this prerogative.
Twice before he was given such powers according to this constitutional
provision and he carried out the duties allowed to him by the parliament without any
misstep or abuse of power.
A close look at Venezuelan history shows that this power, also enshrined in
the past constitution, was given to presidents Rómulo Betancourt (1959) Carlos
Andrés Pérez (1974), Lusinchi (1984) and Velázquez (1993) to carry out
decisions related to finance, external debt and creation of new state institutions
among others. However, since these presidents were in friendly terms with the
White House, there was no decrying of an erosion of Venezuelan democracy then.
In fact, during the past 40 years, there were abundant glaring abuses of
human rights being committed in the country at the time but there was not one word
of protest or concern by Washington.
President Chávez won an overwhelming landslide in the last elections in Dec.
2005 and during his campaign, he promised to transform Venezuela into the
socialism of the XXI Century and to combat corruption within the state. No one can
say he was not clear about this: a vote for Chávez was a vote for a new,
humanist socialism, unlike any other, that Venezuelans would create for
themselves. He is a politician bent on keeping his campaign promise – a rare thing
The areas President Chávez has been given authority over are all domestic
matters. He promised to reform the unwieldy state apparatus and make it efficient
and less prone to corruption. He also promised to re-nationalize the
telephone and electrical utilities. The telephone company has an absolute monopoly
over landline telecommunications including Internet. Carlos Andrés Pérez
privatized it against the will of voters who elected him after he ran for office on an
anti-privatization platform. He was later impeached for corruption. As for
the electricity generation and supply, Venezuelans believe it is in their
national interest that these be state owned so that electricity can be
supplied to parts of the country that may not be profitable, but are very much in
the interest of the local population, particularly the indigenous population.
He has not been given any power to change one iota issues of human rights or
any issue that could be of international interest. The government has repeated
ad nauseam that property rights will be respected, enshrined as they are in
the constitution and has promised shareholder will be compensated.
But none of this satisfies the White House or the lavishly compliant USA
mainstream press. The intense focus on these Venezuelan internal matters is
occurring because it is Chávez and Washington is doing everything it can erode his
legitimate and well-earned position of a democratic leader.
The ten areas over which President Chávez has been given temporary authority
(1) Transform state institutions. The Venezuelan state apparatus is a
creature from the 40 previous years. He needs to make it more efficient and to
include greater citizen participation to make it more accountable and transparent.
(2) Popular participation: Norms are needed or public participation at all
levels of government so, that it can become an instrument of oversight much
needed to combat corruption.
(3) Changes to the civil service: To counter and prevent corruption the
enormous civil servant cadre needs reform and new laws that govern them.
(4) New economic model: Existing legislation needs to be adopted to achieve
equality and equitable distribution of wealth. The oil rich Venezuelan state is
essentially a distributor of wealth and regulation concerning this
distribution needs to be made explicit; as well, the model of cooperativism and of
endogenous development needs regulation.
(5) Finances and tax collection: In a country where very few used to pay
taxes there is a need to modernize the monetary, banking, insurance and tax
(6) Citizen and judiciary security: There is need to modernize, update, the
public health system, prisons, identification, migration regulations and to
carry out further judicial reform.
(7) Science and Technology: This is an area of rapid change worldwide and
norms are needed for science and technological development to meet the needs of
education, health, environment, biodiversity, industrialization, quality of
life, and defense.
(8) Territorial order: Norms are needed for territorial organization (states,
jurisdictions, municipalities) related to voting and size of constituencies.
(9) Security and defense: Norms for establishing co-responsibility of state
and organized communities for defense of the nation.
(10) Infrastructure: Norms are needed to improve the transportation system,
public services, home construction, and telecommunications.
These are important internal affairs that pertain only to Venezuela. They
represent a cleaning of house that responds to the need to modernize and update
an ineffective state bureaucracy that has been very frustrating for the
government and for its supporters. Now, President Chávez has received a clear and
strong democratic mandate to do just that, both by the voters and by the
President Bush, on the other hand, has changed laws – with no time limit-
that have allowed him unprecedented powers in the USA, powers that trample
Americans’ rights and trash their constitution. The Military Commissions Act of 2006
gives Bush powers similar to those that Stalin and Bush had, giving its
spying agencies powers similar to those of the KGB or Gestapo.
This Act does away with habeas corpus – the right to know why a person has
been imprisoned and totally undermines the idea of innocent until proven
guilty. Bush has abused human rights by allowing and promoting the use of torture.
Bush keeps a gulag at Guantanamo where people are imprisoned and not allowed
lawyers of their choice nor allowed visits by Red Cross. He has trashed the
Geneva Convention saying it does not apply to US and has waged war against a
country that did not attack the US and on false pretenses.
Venezuela, under President Chávez, has exemplary record of upholding human
rights in the region. There is no reputable human rights organization that is
accusing his government of murder, torture, secret prisoners or jails, state
violence, displacing people, or waging war.
Yet, the Bush Administration has spent $9 m in 2006 alone funding opposition
groups in Venezuela and was actively involved in the coup that kidnapped
democratically elected President Chávez in 2002 and the economic lockout later that
year that crippled the economy.
So, it is Bush who is trying to topple Chávez, not the other way around.
Such humbug and hypocrisy over legitimate domestic issues in Venezuela is one
of the reasons that the reputation of the USA is so profoundly tarnished in
Latin America. The USA mainstream media should be ashamed of itself for
parroting the Bush Administration spin with so little analysis and critical thought.
They violate the right of Americans to truthful and reliable information.
As for the mainstream Canadian media, it seems content to reproduce whatever
ridiculous articles their USA counterparts invent.
Maybe if Canadian newspapers and CBC actually had reporters stationed in the
greater part of this hemisphere they might have a chance at understanding the
seminal change that has occurred in Latin America, basically, that the most
of it has declared its independence from USA domination and has thrown the
Monroe Doctrine to the winds.
References: Gregory Wilpert, Venezuelan Legislature Allows President to Pass
Laws by Decree for 18 Months, Venezuelanalysis.com, 31 January 2007
Eric Wingerter, Hugo Chavez, the Press and the “Rule by Decree” Meme in
Venezuela, OpEdNews.com, 29 January 2007
Eva Golinger, Confused About Venezuela? Venezuelanalysis.com, 13 January 2007
Venezuela Update, January 2007, Venezuela Information Office
Venezuelanalysis.com, Venezuelan Legislature rejects US Official’s Comments
on Enabling Law, 23 January 2007
Carla Binion, Bush’s Absolute Power Grab, Consortium News, 21 October 2006
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