[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 
indeed. 

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 
are:

(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 
sectors. 

(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 
legislators.

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
mar



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