Latin America

England's Model Diplomat

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Naomi Campbell

Two important items from Venezuela: The Swan author Naomi Campbell, serial abuser of the proletariat, who called a previous meeting with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro a "dream come true," has, with El Jefe in a perpetual state of revolutionary convalescence, moved on to Hugo Chavez. When entering Miraflores Palace Campbell told the assembled journos that she was "not going to be political. Thank you very much." No, thank you, Naomi!

According to Bloomberg News, Venezuela's unicameral parliament, stocked with pro-Chavez legislators, is having doubts about proposed changes to the constitution—changes that would further undermine the rule of law and concentrate even more power in the hands of the executive. All 165 members of the parliment are from Chavez's umberlla party PSUV, which includes members of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), PODEMOS, and Fatherland For All (PPT). But it seems like some of the reluctant coalition partners are having second thoughts:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may lose a national vote to revise the constitution as some long-time backers view his proposals as a power grab, said the chief of Podemos, a party that split from the ruling coalition. "We've supported Chavez since the beginning,'' said the party's general secretary, Ismael Garcia, in an interview in Caracas late yesterday. "He's going to lose this one.'' Podemos, allied with Chavez since his election in 1999, withheld its support for the plan when it was presented in August because it eliminates vital checks and balances in the government, Garcia, 53, said. The party, which holds seven of 167 seats in the National Assembly, helped Chavez regain the presidency during an attempted coup in 2002.

The party's stand on the proposed constitution underscores rising resistance to Chavez's biggest political initiative of the year. The proposal, which scraps presidential term limits, abolishes central bank autonomy and redefines property rights, has set off clashes between police and student protesters in recent weeks. "This reform is characterized by an increase, in an abusive way, in the concentration of presidential powers,'' Podemos lawmaker Ricardo Gutierrez said an interview in Caracas yesterday. "It has been done in a big hurry, and that makes it hard for citizens to decide.''

Also, be sure to check out Alvaro Vargas Llosa, son of Mario, on the "return of the idiot" in Latin American politics.