You probably have heard of Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez. Well, he's poised to make a major power grab that would erode still further the tenuous grip on democracy that that country still has. Fueled by high oil prices, Chavez has managed to become so popular that the National Assembly is going to vote him the power to rule by decree. The CNN.com story is here.
His declared intent is to use these decree powers to transform Venezuela into a kind of oil rich version of Cuba. What ever you may think about the desirability of modeling a country after Cuba, think about the means he's using to do it.
Chavez has majority support in the National Assembly. If he wanted to pass new policies, he could get the Assembly to vote his way. Certainly their willingness to grant him decree power is a good indication of their loyalty to him. But instead he's having the assembly grant him decree power. This shows that the policy changes are NOT the point. The point is the decree power itself. What's more, it is likely that his plans for using the decree powers go far beyond what he has openly admitted thus far.
I have no idea how long Chavez will be in charge in Venezuela. But every step like this he takes makes it more likely that the eventual transfer of power will be a dirty business.
It is unfortunate that Bush has us bogged down so obsessively in Iraq. Venezuela under Chavez is turning into a real threat to us and our allies. Chavez has meddled in the elections of a number of friendly Latin American countries (including Mexico) so far with mixed success. His consolidation of dictatorial power in his own country is a worrying signal of his intention to threaten our interests and those of our allies in the region.
I'm not suggesting we should invade Venezuela, but having the ability to do so would make the diplomacy easier. Thank you for screwing this up too, Mr. Bush.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 5:16 AM