Latin America

How Not to Prove Your Democratic Credentials

|

On his Sunday chat show Alo Presidente—which features el maximo comandante chatting to himself for six hours—Hugo Chavez declared that "foreigners" (i.e. foreign journalists) who criticize the Bolivarian revolution will be expelled from Venezuela. The Beeb has details:

"No foreigner can come here to attack us. Anyone who does must be removed from this country," he said during his weekly TV and radio programme. Mr Chavez also ordered officials to monitor statements made by international figures in Venezuela.

His comments came shortly after a senior Mexican politician publicly criticised the Venezuelan government. "How long are we going to allow a person—from any country in the world—to come to our own house to say there's a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?" Mr Chavez said during his "Hello, President" broadcast on Sunday.

Seems that Chavez is taking a page from Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega's playbook (whose revolutionary anniversary he recently celebrated with a typically long-winded, belligerent stump speech). When Sandinista censor Nelba Blandon was asked (back in 1984) why the government had shut down an opposition newspaper, she replied: "They accused us of suppressing freedom of expression. That was a lie and we could not allow them to publish it."

NEXT: Red Mars

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Meanwhile Chavez continues to turn over the oil fields of the Orinoco to foreign interests (Russia, China, etc.), leaving Venezuelan firms out of the bidding. Independence from imperialism indeed.

  2. Caudillo, Caudillo, Caudillo, Caudillo!
    Caudillo, Caudillo!
    Caudillo, Caudillo, Caudillo, Caudillo!
    Caudillo, Caudillo, Caudillo!

    Sing along, everybody!

  3. “How long are we going to allow a person – from any country in the world – to come to our own house to say there’s a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?” Mr Chavez said during his “Hello, President” broadcast on Sunday.

    I think the point the journalists are trying to make is that somebody should be doing something about Chavez being a dictator or tyrant — though perhaps it was a case of a poor translation rather than Chavez unintentionally making an ambiguous statement that could be construed as an admission of tyrannical behavior.

  4. How about clod-illo?

    What a ham-fisted goon.

  5. I’m not afraid of terrrists [sic]! And to prove it, I’m gonna suspend the Constitution so I can toss ’em all in jail and throw away the key!

  6. Considering the old frog in the water analogy, one rule of thumb for knowing when your system has moved from a republic to one-man rule is when your leader starts making speeches longer than one hour. At that time, one should begin collecting arms. Once speeches go over two hours, go ahead and revolt.

  7. Remember when Chavez came to our country and called our president the Devil?

    I’m no Bush fan, but you have to appreciate the irony here.

  8. Bush ain’t the devil…he’s (Bush) much worse. Probably a direct descendant of The Urkobold&trade

  9. It must have been 30 days before an election.

  10. I just can’t wait to see the Counterpunch.org crowd try to excuse this the way they did when he shut down the TV station.

    For some reason, the best critics of American censorship think it’d just dandy when Chavez does it.

  11. JimmyDaGeek. We’re all direct descendents of The Urkobold?, and his father, Mr. T (not to be confused with Dr. T).

  12. Blog-flogging is the new incest.

  13. Stephen Macklin wins the thread. That was brilliant, sir.

  14. There will undoubtedly be some moron on this board, joe i’m looking at you, who will try to justify this, just as they tried with the TV station brouhaha. These useful idiots can take cover behind the excuse you always hear when something like this happens. Thankfully, that “American Agents” excuse never gets old.

  15. Chavez is a thug:

    Even joe has been slowly backing away from his support of Chavez.

    In 20 years Chavez will be like Pol Pot… Pol Pot was the darling of Western leftist like Chompsky… now everyone pretends not to have liked him at the time.

  16. Good lord, how screwed up is your country when even a Mexican politician thinks it’s fucked up?

  17. Has joe ever said anything in support of Chavez, other than that his popularity in Venezuela is not surprising? Sometimes I think commenters here give joe a little bit too hard a time.

  18. I’ve never supported Chavez. I’ve never written a single word supporting Chavez.

    I’ve consistently supported Venezuelan democracy. When the anti-Chavez people are a threat to it, I condemn them, such as when our State Department backed a coup against him. When Chavez himself acts in an undemocratic manner, I condemn him. My position hasn’t moved even a fraction of a inch.

    It’s interesting how many people who proclaim themselves lovers of democracy can’t recognize that.

  19. As a matter of fact, I’ve written that I hope he losed the next election.

    Which is something the self-appointed defenders of democracy – I’m looking at you, Chavez is a thug – have never done. Pretty telling, that for all your assertions of how anti-dictator and pro-democracy you are, the little matter of legal success of power after democratic elections doesn’t ever seem to enter into your thinking.

  20. When Chavez himself acts in an undemocratic manner, I condemn him.

    Oddly, I recall joe spending a lot more pixels thumping on the anti-Chavez folks, who are demonstrably a much lesser threat to Venezuelan democracy than Chavez. As he does in the pair of posts just above.

    Still, even pro forma denunciations are better than none at ll.

  21. Yeah, well, you “remember” me defending Saddam Hussein, to, so I’m not going to lose any sleep, RC.

  22. “It cannot be allowed – it is a question of national dignity, he said.” cut from the BBC.

    It really gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that my participation in the demonstrations in Puerto Ordaz is something that hurt Hugo Ch?vez understanding of national dignity!

    My small ego feels a rare sensation of true pride.

  23. As a matter of fact, I’ve written that I hope he losed the next election.

    yeah, like Chavez will let that happen, jeesh

  24. It must be nice not to have to deal with the “what if a bad leader is democratically legitimate?” question.

    It’s a tough one. You need to formulate a position that a fifth grader might not come up with, which leaves you wide open to what people with fifth-grade minds may say.

    It must be so much easier just to conclude that any president you don’t like is actually a dictator. It must save so much time.

  25. joe, are you really that naive? If anyone has an elementary school-like mind, it’s you when it comes to South American politics.

  26. You know, che, I’ve actually done pretty well over the last few years in my observations about the course of democracy in other countries.

    Better than some, anyway.

  27. You know, joe, I didn’t call you any names or insult your intelligence with my first post. All I did was make an offhand remark about Chavez losing an election. You responded by calling me a fifth grader. Does it make you feel good or just superior to denigrate others?

    Getting elected by bribing the poor and intimidating the middle class is not a sign of a healthy democracy no matter how many Jimmy Carters are there to monitor it. Chavez is in the process of eliminating term limits for the President, so he’ll likely be up for re-electino in 2012. What do you want to bet, barring a US-backed coup or (gasp!) invasion, he gets re-elected?

    Then again, why bother? I should know better than go up against “the pope” of Hit & Run.

    (hmm, that does make me feel good!)

  28. “In 20 years Chavez will be like Pol Pot… Pol Pot was the darling of Western leftist like Chompsky..”

    Odd, I seem to remember Chomsky supporting the Vietnamese invasion that overthrew Pol Pot. I know, I know, don’t feed the trolls…

  29. “”””It’s a tough one. You need to formulate a position that a fifth grader might not come up with, which leaves you wide open to what people with fifth-grade minds may say.””””

    Jeff Foxworthy wants to know if you’re smarter than a fifth grader.

  30. che,

    I misunderstood your point. I though you were saying there was no chance of Chavez holding competetive elections. It’s become popular in certain circles to proclaim Venezuelan democracy dead, so as to not have to respect the outcomes of its elections and to justify undemocratic behavior towards its government and officeholders. It’s also a shoddy intellectual dodge for those who want to proclaim themselves defenders of democracy without the trouble of having to accept that sometimes the bad guy wins the election, and you have to respect that.

    I didn’t realize you were talking about Chavez holding and winning fair elections. To that I say, don’t give up hope! I think Chavez is likely to win the next election, unless Venezuela experiences some kind of hardship that he fails to address. On the other hand, I think such a thing is likely to happen eventually.

    As far as “bribing the poor,” in early American elections, it was common for candidates and their supporters to carry around jugs of whiskey, and to let people have a slug in exchange for their vote. It worked out ok for us.

  31. It worked out ok for us.

    Or DID it? 😉

  32. DUM dum DUUUUMMMMMM!!!!!

  33. Dunno, joe.

    Early on, I’d have said that you were right. But Chavez’s newer rhetoric of the ‘Bolivaran Revolution’ seems to be the kind that will ride elections as long as they work out in his favor. As soon as he thinks he’ll lose them, elections will go the way of RCTV’s broadcast license.

    He’s still not nearly as bad as Kim Jong Il or even probably Ahmedinijad and his Ayatollahs, but he’s only a couple of steps up from Mugabe and Castro at this point, and seems to be headed in their directions.

  34. Oh, the above comment is directed at joe’s faith that democratic elections could remove Chavez from power. At this point, I think his rhetoric is leaning toward the megalomaniacal and paranoid, and that combination is pretty common amongst folks who suspend democracy as soon as they lose control of it.

  35. Odd, I seem to remember Chomsky supporting the Vietnamese invasion that overthrew Pol Pot. I know, I know, don’t feed the trolls…

    He did. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Chomsky supported Pol Pot… claiming of course that “rumors” of attrocities was just propoganda by the Capitalist Media, to undermine the socialist revolution.

    When it became painfully obvious what a disaster things where, Chomsky claimed he never supported Pol Pot, and very likely backed the Vietnamese invasion.

    He even went so far as to edit out pro-Pol Pot statements in subsequent printings of his work.

    Do a google search if you want references… there are pages that document Chomskies love afair for Pol Pot better than I can.

  36. good points and well taken, joe

    I’ve got a friend in Caracas so it’s gets a little personal for me. She’s anti-Chavez, but not so vocal about it anymore, which says a lot.

  37. “I condemn them, such as when our State Department backed a coup against him”

    I have said it once, and I will say it again: the evidence that the United States supported that coup is flimsy at best. It seems you have ignored the much more overwhelming evidence the US was not involved, as is your usual modus operandi( I already dealt with this in another thread, and will not do so again)
    However, I do seem to recall in the thread concerning the TV stations you implied, and, if I remember correctly, explicitly stated that Venezuala was justified in closing down that station because of its supposed support of a coup. Given that it was five years after the fact, this justification is weak at best. You may not be wearing an “I love Chavez” T-shirt with your beret, but excusing his actions is the moral equivalent.

  38. “When Chavez himself acts in an undemocratic manner, I condemn him.”

    Given the fact that pretty much everything he does is undemocratic, I have seen very little from you in the way of condemnation. I won’t be holding my breath either.

  39. Joe,

    I think at this point what you say is:

    “I liked Chavez, but he turned out to be a left wing thug, now I know he is an asshole and I am sorry for supporting him.”

    Then on a personal level you should reexamine your own left wing ideology for flaws that lead you down the wrong path.

    On a side note:

    Did you hear Sheehan is a democrat hating libertarian just like me!?!?!

    WHooooo HOooooo

    *runs naked down the street

  40. lunchstealer,

    Given Chavez’s history, including the fact that he lead a coup himself, it seems pretty safe to say that he, personally, is not a reliable defender of democracy.

    That’s why it’s important to focus on the system, not the personalities. When Chavez was glorying in his democratic legitimacy shortly after taking office, we should have stood behind democracy, if only to put us (and the opposition, and the international community) in a better position to hold him to his democratic responsibilities.

  41. che,

    Good luck to you friend! A democratic change in government is the best thing that can happen to Venezuela, both in the short and long terms.

    Chavez is a thug,

    New Mejican totally pwned you on that earlier thread, where you denied that the U.S. had supported the coup. I guess you never bothered to go back and check after your last comment. That was probably smart.

  42. Chavez is a thug | July 23, 2007, 10:24pm | #

    However, I do seem to recall in the thread concerning the TV stations you implied, and, if I remember correctly, explicitly stated that Venezuala was justified in closing down that station because of its supposed support of a coup.

    I have no doubt you do remember that. Now this is the part where I pwn you.

    joe | May 18, 2007, 5:57pm | #

    Hopefully, this will come back to haunt Chavez in the next election. This wasn’t some dreary news channel, but a popular station that carried shows with very high ratings. This is the type of thing that could motivate ordinary, non-political junkies, as it effects people’s daily lives.

    joe | May 18, 2007, 6:04pm | #

    Grotius,

    It looks like the voters are getting the chance to see the other side of such a system now. Hopefully, the outcome of this will be an electoral defeat, a term in power for the rightist opposition, followed by a challenge to them by a chastened, moderated leftist party.

    joe | May 28, 2007, 12:32pm | #

    Here’s hoping the opposition decides to turn this into a theme for the next election.

    joe | June 5, 2007, 4:08pm | #

    “The US government probably would have shut down RCTV within five minutes after a failed coup attempt – and thrown its owners in jail.”

    The U.S. government isn’t headed by a man who participated in a coup attempt!

    Tell you what, Hugo, let’s ban TV broadcasts by ANYONE who supported a coup. How’s that grab you?

    I couold go on and on (and on, and on, and on), but I think I’ve made my point.

  43. I’m not sure what a defender of democracy is these days. According to the FBI, anyone who uses force to change the political status quo of a counrty, is a terrorist.

  44. Didn’t Robert Deniro do that in Casino?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.