Latin America

Blocking Bolivarian Boulevard

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The Venezuelan revolution might have to get by without a dictator-for-life:

In a fiercely contested referendum yesterday, voters rejected reforms that would have scrapped term limits on Mr Chavez's rule, given him control over foreign currency reserves and boosted powers to take over private property.

Mr Chavez conceded just after election officials said early yesterday that the "no" camp had about 51 per cent of the vote and that the President scored only about 49 per cent support.

Although he remains powerful and popular, it was the biggest electoral blow to the anti-US leader since he swept to power in 1998.

NEXT: Gunfight at the Supreme Court

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  1. Since the official tally was 51% to 49% I have to assume that Chavez and three of his commie buddies were the only people to vote for Chavez’s new powers, everlasting life, omnipotence and socialist paradise against fascists and yankee imperialists.

    I wonder how long it will take for Chavez apologists to spin the fact that their hero got bitch-slapped into some grand symbol of statesmanship…..

  2. joe, Happy now?

  3. Yea, we can stop threadjacking.

  4. joe’s gonna pop! I’m thinking Tom Cruise and a sofa, here.

  5. 49%!!!!

    This wasnt some giant douche v. turd sandwich vote.

  6. Since the official tally was 51% to 49% I have to assume that Chavez and three of his commie buddies were the only people to vote for Chavez’s new powers, everlasting life, omnipotence and socialist paradise against fascists and yankee imperialists.

    The bad news is how narrow it was.

    The good news is the opposition was much stronger among the 18-30 year old set, particularly on college campuses. This says that young Latin Americans don’t wish to return to the bad old days of the 60s and 70s.

  7. the President scored only about 49 per cent

    “Only”? Last time I looked, 49% is almost half. That’s cause for optimism?

    “Bitch-slapped” Lamar? With half the vote? Holy hyperbole.
    I guess Kerry and Gore also got bitch-slapped.

  8. R C Dean | October 31, 2007, 3:30pm | #

    Don’t you people know political Kabuki when you see it? There is no frikkin’ way Chavez doesn’t get his way here.

    What part of “repressive demagogue” and “one-party Congress” adds up to “Chavez fails to consolidate power”?

  9. Hey, I’ll threadjack about something else: Has there been any news on the Liberty Dollar raid by the feds?

  10. joe,

    So we have something to throw back at you, what would you put the odds of Chavez going quietly into the sunset at the end of his term?

    So you have something to throw at me, Im going with a 1% chance.

  11. joe is now mastering the Reason search engine. This should be fun. Do me next, joe! I don’t recall if I said anything really juicy but if I did, get me.

  12. If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated don’t give way to hating…

    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

    – Rudyard Kipling

    Oh, the irony!

  13. robc,

    I think those odds got quite a bit better yesterday.

    The take-home lesson here: democracy isn’t about the man, it’s the people and the system.

  14. “Holy hyperbole.”

    If you can’t truck in enough campesinos to win a vote, you got slapped down.

  15. Jesse, a little context would be helpful. Most democracies do not impose term limits on their leaders (the UK and Canada come immediately to mind) yet no one critcizes them for being undemocratic. Furthermore, you must admit the process of adopting and ammending the Venezuelan constitution has been much more democratic than than occurred in the US- three-fifths of a person anyone?

  16. Every once in a while the world surprises me with a burst of sobriety and common sense.

    The usual suspects on the Reason Blog, however, have yet to do so. 😉

  17. Joe, I wouldn’t go too far with the search engine if I were you. I bet I could find some quotes from you talking about how the Democrats would end the war in two weeks back in January.

    With regards to Chavez, lets see if he calls in the army and blames the CIA for “election fraud” or if he accepts the decision.

  18. Oh, Episiarch.

    I’m saving you for when the Democratic president ends the Iraq War.

  19. Bill Pope, I’m thrilled the US Constitution doesn’t allow ballot initiative to amend the Constitution. Think of the insanity that would ensue. It would be the Californication of the federal government.

  20. Didn’t Chavez refuse to invite election observers this time? I think he tampered with the vote but STILL didn’t get the majority he needed.

    Also, is there anything that can stop him from contesting this result in the near future? By temporarily respecting the result, he burnishes his democratic credentials, but then in a week or two, when he “discovers” information that opponents of the nation have tampered with the vote, Chavez gets his way.

    PS Any celeb commentary on the vote result? I gotta hear what Sean Penn and Naomi Campbell think.

  21. Cesar,

    I imagine Chavez is going to pull the Full Dornan over his loss. It was only those illegal immigrants the opposition trucked in from Orange County!

    Which will only serve to harm his image in the eyes of the Venezuela public.

  22. Cesar,

    Hold on. Venezuela doesn’t allow the Constitution to be amended through a popular vote, either.

    First, amendments need to win in the congress (IDK if they require a super-majority), and then the public has to approve them.

    The popular vote is actually a check on zany amendments.

  23. You know, I’d just like to point out that for all the sh*t I’ve taken, I have never once – not even once – accused anyone of hoping that things go to hell in Venezuela so their predictions can be proven right.

    That is a really lousy, dishonest accusation to make in any political context.

  24. joe, I don’t blame you for enjoying this, but Chavez has shown in the past he’s not above extra-legal means to gain power. You might consider waiting a bit before throwing those predictions back in their faces. I do think you’re right about him shifting to blame mode, and the Devil (aka Dubya) will top his list.

    Bill Pope – most democracies are parliamentary, which means they are often made up of fractious coalitions that don’t stay in power for long.

  25. PS Any celeb commentary on the vote result? I gotta hear what Sean Penn and Naomi Campbell think.

    I’m more interested in a response form Naomi Klein. You know, Chavez was supposed to be the savior of the oppressed brown people, protecting them from evil yanqui “disaster capitalism”–whatever the fuck that means.

    Like socialist revolutions don’t happen in times of crisis! For a Marxist she sure as shit doesn’t know her own ideology.

    First, amendments need to win in the congress (IDK if they require a super-majority), and then the public has to approve them.

    The popular vote is actually a check on zany amendments.

    I prefer state legislatures as a check on crazy amendments, but Venezuela isn’t federalist. But thats better than California-style Constitutional reform.

  26. The take-home lesson here: democracy isn’t about the man, it’s the people and the system.

    My take is, to his credit, Chavez didn’t commit massive voting fraud this election.

    My other

  27. Maybe I’m too high on this, but I think Chavez just had his Midway, his Borodino….

  28. Oh, crap!
    The take-home lesson here: democracy isn’t about the man, it’s the people and the system.

    My take is, to his credit, Chavez didn’t commit massive voting fraud this election.

    My other predictions, still hoping I’m wrong, hold.

  29. Oh, Episiarch.

    I’m saving you for when the Democratic president ends the Iraq War.

    I look forward to it. I am pleased about being wrong here (so far–let’s see what Hugo does over the next few days), and if a Dem president ends the war, I will be pleased in that case too. I will enjoy your gloating.

  30. This is great! Chavez will be out of power in…

    2013? Big whoop.

  31. It would be the Californication of the federal government.

    Cesar,

    Flea is gonna kick your plagiarizing ass.

  32. This is great! Chavez will be out of power in…

    2013? Big whoop.

    Yeah, it sucks, but there’s an opportunity to start eroding the base, starting with regional elections next year.

    Moreover, this confirms what almost everyone knew: the source of his electoral success is in those who benefit from government largess, but don’t want anything to do with the Cuban system. Aiming for these voters will suck in a libertarian website, but it’s sure better than the alternative.

  33. The astonishing thing about this vote is that Chavez was trying to become a dictator-for-life, and the announced turnout was only about 55%. Mind-blowing apathy there.

    But, considering the 49% Chavez allegedly got, anyone think he won’t try again with a slightly watered-down version, with a lot (or more) ballot-stuffing to get the 2% extra needed for passage?

    I’m still highly skeptical this guy leaves power peacefully in 2012, but today, at least, a little celebration is in order.

  34. I think those odds got quite a bit better yesterday.

    Well, yeah. Reverse the vote and I would have gone with zero percent instead of one.

  35. BakedPenguin,

    Don’t you think that the fact that he just lost an election – failing utterly to use any extra-legal means to cheat and win – should find its way into your analysis of the situation?

    Seriously, think off all the people we’ve seen Chavez compared to on these threads over the past few years. Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. Saddam. Fidel. Putin. Mugabe.

    Can you even imagine any of them allowing an electoral loss to happen when they were in full control of the apparatus of state?

  36. Joe: Don’t forget the most common comparison: Hillary Clinton and Hugo Chavez.


  37. Can you even imagine any of them allowing an electoral loss to happen when they were in full control of the apparatus of state?

    Joe, I’m going to Godwin this thread but theres actually a point to this. Hitler failed to gain a majority in an election, too. A few days later he gained dictatorial powers anyway under the pretext of a pretended “emergency”. Chavez will use democracy when its useful to him. When it proves not to be don’t be surprised if he throws it overboard.

  38. Cesar,

    Hitler was a challenger, not in control of the govenrment, when his party had its gains in the 1932 elections, and was appointed Chancellor.

  39. Cesar,

    The fact that Chavez allowed this electoral defeat to happenn should be a relevant bit of data in making predictions about his behavior.

  40. There was a great story in the Boston Globe this weekend.

    One of the military men who, along with Chavez, founded the revolutionary cell that launched Chavez’s coup went over to the opposition. Imagine Zell Miller giving his speech at the 2004 Republical Convention, if Zell Miller had been John Kerry’s campaign manager in 1972 and had been a top aid to him ever since. “We believe in socialism, but within a democratic system.”

    I think the bottom line here is that, contra Michael Moynihan’s article from last month, the fact that an elected president adopts left-wing policies is not, in fact, proof that he is out to destroy electoral democracy.

  41. ”Don’t feel sad,” Chavez urged supporters, especially given the ”microscopic differences” between the ”yes” and ”no” options in a referendum that opponents feared could have meant a plunge towards dictatorship.

    From MSNBC. This bit was on CNN’s web site earlier today, but has since vanished. Strange how this revision to the constitution was vital, but when he lost, suddenly it’s no big deal, a “microscopic difference.” If I were a true believer in Chavez and heard him call what was the Most Important Vote of the Millenium a “microscopic” difference, I’d say, “you know what bud, screw you” and go home.

    My guess is that this vote will be like the referendum on independence for Quebec: passion will change and this will be Chavez’s zenith. People will move on to other things.

  42. “the fact that an elected president adopts left-wing policies is not, in fact, proof that he is out to destroy electoral democracy.”

    Joe, I’m with ya to a point. Aren’t you forgetting what the vote was about that Chavez lost? Remember he wanted all that unchecked power, ability to rule for life, take control over major industries and suspend individuals rights with little justification in times of “emergency”?

    The guy lost his bid for caudillo status. I have to assume, albeit with little support, that the results were so overwhelming that he would have had another putsch on his hands if he didn’t concede. The 51-49 business was merely to save face. That’s just a guess, but not totally unfounded unless latin american elections have all of the sudden become reliable as a diebold machine.

  43. Give it some time. Not to say that I expect the worst, but elections are seldom cut and dry within a day or two. There is a lot of meat on this particular bone and it will take a while to worry it all off. This goes for the SCOTUS 2nd Amendment thread as well.

  44. Especially at a 49/51 margin. Recount anyone?

  45. Don’t you think that the fact that he just lost an election – failing utterly to use any extra-legal means to cheat and win – should find its way into your analysis of the situation?

    It did, joe. My point was just that the game’s not yet over. He still has a long time in power, and the timing of this election might be significant.

    If he won this election, he could claim a legitimacy for the power grab. He didn’t win, but he has a few years left to plan by other means to stay in power if he so desires. He may be enough of a democrat to step down at the end of his term, but I’d like better than 50/50 odds before I bet on that.

    Cesar, Flea is gonna kick your plagiarizing ass.

    You might want to read about what happens to plagiarists here.

  46. Lamar,

    I’m only with me up to a point, as well. I still don’t trust that guy, but I think the comparisons are more to Bush (and his executive power grabs and love of the word “traitor” to describe people who disagree with him) than to Pol Pot or Hitler.

  47. Don’t you people know political Kabuki when you see it? There is no frikkin’ way Chavez doesn’t get his way here.

    What part of “repressive demagogue” and “one-party Congress” adds up to “Chavez fails to consolidate power”?

    Color me surprised.

    Color me shocked if Chavez doesn’t find a way to make this happen anyway. 49% practically begs for another bite at the apple. He’s still a repressive demagogue with a one-party Congress. joe, are you willing to go on record that this is his final attempt to consolidate power? If not, you might want to tone down the gloat.

    Don’t you think that the fact that he just lost an election – failing utterly to use any extra-legal means to cheat and win – should find its way into your analysis of the situation?

    Whoa, joe, how can you possibly know he didn’t use extra-legal means to cheat?

  48. Well now the system and rule of law has kept Chavez in check (which gives support to Joe’s arguments that Chavez is democratically elected and operating within the framework of Venezuelan law). The question is where does he go from here? Can they bring the referendum up again? I dont know but I really don’t think he’s gonna go quietly into the night when his term is up. He will probably have some sort of influence for decades to come.

  49. I must admit, I’m pretty surprised at Chavez’s calm demeanor all of a sudden. Just days ago he was calling the ‘no’ crowd traitors and dishing out threats left and right about what he was going to do if there was any “interference” from the U.S. or Spain. Next thing you know he’s thanking the opposition for participating in such an orderly election. Seems kind of bipolar to me.

  50. What’s the Spanish for “dimpled chad?”

  51. I think this was good news for Venezuela both cause it was the right vote and cause it showed Chavez can lose a vote, which is good in its own right.

    What will happen in the future? I’ll let the future call that, but this can’t help but be a good omen compared to the alternative.

  52. As far as the narrow margin, all the polls suggested that this was going to be a squeaker. I don’t think 51-49 outcome is the result of any government tampering.

  53. I also remember reading where one of Chavez’s major supporters recently bolted to the other side.

    I think Chavez may have had some visits from other power-brokers in Venezuela who told him in no uncertain terms they weren’t going to go along with any further grabs for power. This vote is simply a face-saving way for him to climb down.

  54. RC Dean,

    joe, are you willing to go on record that this is his final attempt to consolidate power? Of course not. All politicians attempt to consolidate their power.

    If not, you might want to tone down the gloat.

    On this, of all days, how about you make a reall effort to get this through your skull – I haven’t made any predictions that he wouldn’t try to consolidate his power. What I have been saying for years now is that he has done so, and will continue to do through, through legal, democratic means. All of your yammering about democracy, and you can’t seem to grasp that distinction between coups and ballots.

    Whoa, joe, how can you possibly know he didn’t use extra-legal means to cheat? Because he lost.

  55. grumpy realist, I think you give Chavez too much credit as a politician.

    This isn’t a well-choreographed Plan B by a smooth operator who knows all the angles. This a blunder by a hamfisted goon who simply assumed that of course the people would support him.

  56. What makes this referendum’s defeat so impressive is that it was larded down with goodies intended to bribe people into endorsing the grab for executive power, and the public still didn’t buy it.

    The six hour workday. The money for local councils. I think everyone was going to get a pony, too. And the public still rejected it.

    On a lot of immigration threads, we see people offer the argument that “those people” from Latin America would be bad for American democracy, because they’re in love with caudillos and giveaways and don’t have an appreciation for limited government or liberty.

    So, on a day when a lot rightist delusions are turning into smoke and blowing away, let’s throw that one on the pile, too.

  57. Because he lost.

    He could just be bad at cheating. With no market to determine the price of a vote, perhaps he underbid with his bribes.

  58. One of the military men who, along with Chavez, founded the revolutionary cell that launched Chavez’s coup went over to the opposition” Joe

    Joe this was Gen. Raul Baduel, who survived an assassination attempt yesterday. Chavistas for the past couple weeks have been chanting “Baduel, traidor! Te toca el paredon” (Baduel, traitor! Your turn for the firing squad!) Hugo Chavez doesn’t need to arrest and execute anyone himself, he just hints and expects his “Red Guards” to do so – and never stops them or prosecutes them.

    I do think this is the line in the sand, the Midway that Juan speaks of. As Churchill said “It’s not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

  59. What makes this referendum’s defeat so impressive is that it was larded down with goodies intended to bribe people into endorsing the grab for executive power, and the public still didn’t buy it.

    You know, this might be the best part about all this.

    Chavez was probably trying to see what he could get away with. And when he couldn’t get a power grab even when he packed it with carrots (and probably had some help from his friends at the CNE).

    What this does is open a window of opportunity for the opposition. Next year we’ll have regional elections, and the process for a potential recall vote can start a year after that. The student movement seems to be in it for the long haul, and I can imagine a long-term strategy aimed at defeating the Chavez-backed candidate in 2012, while keeping him in the defensive until then.

  60. And Joe, please go ahead and gloat! It’s worth it that Venezuela experiences a sea change.

    I give a huge part of the credit to the brave students who demonstrated, campaigned, spoke out, and VOTED, then monitored the voting centers. They did so under threats and sometimes very real bullets from armed thugs.

  61. I don’t know if Chavez has the intelligence or character to be chastened and change course in response to this defeat.

  62. IM HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!!!!

    Most people didnt go to work today- too tired from celebrating all night!

    I know this is far from over, but this is the first defeat for Chavez. It was tense for while, because the witnesses for the NO knew they had won but couldnt proclaim victory (it would have been illegal) and the National Electoral Council would not announce Chavez’s defeat. In fact, they didnt let the witnesses for the NO be present at the vote tallying. Very tense fro a few hours. But in the end, it was too obvious Chavez had been defeated, so he had no choice but to concede.

    IM HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!

  63. “I must admit, I’m pretty surprised at Chavez’s calm demeanor all of a sudden. Just days ago he was calling the ‘no’ crowd traitors and dishing out threats left and right about what he was going to do if there was any “interference” from the U.S. or Spain. Next thing you know he’s thanking the opposition for participating in such an orderly election. Seems kind of bipolar to me.”

    Hehehehe. Bipolar. I was just saying these exact words this morning…

  64. rana,

    How low is a 55% turnout in a Venezuelan election? It’s usually a lot higher, no?

  65. rana,

    Congratulations! (I was wondering when you were going to show up. Must have been a long night.)

  66. “Seriously, think of[] all the people we’ve seen Chavez compared to on these threads over the past few years. Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. Saddam. Fidel. Putin. Mugabe.

    “Can you even imagine any of them allowing an electoral loss to happen when they were in full control of the apparatus of state?”

    The fact that Chavez felt the need to beg the people for extra power tells me that he *isn’t* in full control. He wanted to be, but the voters wouldn’t swallow it.

    I have no idea what will happen in Venezuela, but it’s too early to be optimistic.

    You mentioned Mugabe. I recall that Zimbabwe had a referendum several years ago on a constitutional amendment to take white-owned farms without compensation. The voters defeated that amendment, and now Mugabe has retired and the government is in the hands of the opposition.

    Oops, I mean Mugabe stayed in power, seized the white-owned farms, and is presiding over an economic disaster.

    Hopefully the people of Venezuala will stop Chavez from doing that. I don’t know.

  67. Venezuela, not Venezuala.

  68. Well, good luck to Venezuela. This is wonderful news.

    I’m going out in the snow.

  69. “How low is a 55% turnout in a Venezuelan election? It’s usually a lot higher, no?”

    Joe, this is what I found:
    Before 1998 (pre-Chavez) absenteeism was never above 50%; during the 90’s it was around 30-40%; there was 77% absenteeism (some analists say as high as 90%) for the election of the National Assembly; and the last presidential election had 25% absenteeism.

  70. Felicidades, rana! Les deseamos lo mejor.

    By the way, this may be just a rumor, but I read that Chavez has some sort of medical condition involving too much copper in the blood stream or something that may be to blame for his mood swings. Is there any truth to this?

  71. Well, good luck to Venezuela. This is wonderful news.

    I’ll agree with that.

    I just have zero faith that it is the first in a long string of good news.

  72. “You mentioned Mugabe. I recall that Zimbabwe had a referendum several years ago on a constitutional amendment to take white-owned farms without compensation. The voters defeated that amendment, and now Mugabe has retired and the government is in the hands of the opposition.

    Oops, I mean Mugabe stayed in power, seized the white-owned farms, and is presiding over an economic disaster.”

    Buzzkiller.

    Still, I?m happy. I was always hopeful but extremely… cautious… doubtful…concerned. I feel like Venezuela had a communist gun aimed at its head, and we dodged a bullet.

    As far as the high percentage of absenteeism, it was perhaps from both sides: opposition voters who felt they were going to be cheated and Chavistas who love Chavez but didnt want to lose their freedom so, instead of voting “NO”, preferred to not vote.

  73. “By the way, this may be just a rumor, but I read that Chavez has some sort of medical condition involving too much copper in the blood stream or something that may be to blame for his mood swings. Is there any truth to this?”

    Gahan,
    Gracias.
    This one I hadn’t heard. Interesting.
    I have heard many rumors but nothing I could say is true. You know how people love to make up stories.
    But he was calm yesterday. I think they must have heavily sedated him. 😉

  74. joe, I just finished a smoke break, and as many are aware, smoking temporarily improves brain functions.

    Mr Chavez conceded just after election officials said early yesterday that the “no” camp had about 51 per cent of the vote and that the President scored only about 49 per cent support.

    And no honorable politician would ever change his stance after that.

    Hey, it just popped into my admittedly curious and convoluted mind.

  75. Geez…since I have been reading American media about what kind of evil dictator Chavez is I assume that he probably sent tanks into the streets after the referendum failed, I am guessing he used indiscriminate violence to attack his adversaries and perhaps infiltrated them with secret police. Oh what? He didn’t? So much for the Miami Herald view of the world…of course several of these things occured during the 2002 coup whose first act was to dissolve the courts and the assembly…What? No huge reaction from the Times, Post, or CNN back then? I am starting to sense a double standard.

  76. J sub D: Did I miss something? I thought Chavez’s side got less votes than his opponents….

  77. Remember that in the United States we only call democraticaly elected leaders dictators…miliatry leaders are just fine as long as they buy into the plans of the World Bank, IMF, US Treasury view of the world.

  78. Remember that in the United States we only call democraticaly elected leaders dictators…miliatry leaders are just fine as long as they buy into the plans of the World Bank, IMF, US Treasury view of the world.

    Yeah, if you’re a neocon.

  79. Plus we have James, from the bizarro galaxy far, far away, who can amuse us endlessly with his fantasies. Too much copper in the blood, maybe?

  80. I’m euphoric. Can’t stop grinning.
    While people like James defend a thug like Chavez, that’s ok… He may not be a full-fledge dictator (yet) but it’s not due to a lack of trying (and he will continue to try). In fact, the Vz government made an early announcement to international sources that the “Yes” had won- something completely untrue and illegal. If it wasnt for the great effort of the freedom-loving Venezuelans, especially the students, who stayed outside the voting centers and were vigilant, we would have certainly awaken this morning in a communist state.

    I think Lamar said it best:
    “The guy lost his bid for caudillo status. I have to assume, albeit with little support, that the results were so overwhelming that he would have had another putsch on his hands if he didn’t concede. The 51-49 business was merely to save face. That’s just a guess, but not totally unfounded unless latin american elections have all of the sudden become reliable as a diebold machine.”
    Sounds like a good guess to me.

  81. Rana…dear o dear…as long as the Venezuelan people actually voted for it than I am absolutely fine with the results, in fact it may in the end improve many of the reforms that are taking place. However people like Rana have the same point of view as the oligarchs do…if Chavez wins it is because of nefarious means and with malicious intent…it Chavez loses(he actually seems to be honoring the results of the elections…can’t always say the same for the opposition) than in is because of nefarious means and with malicious intent.

  82. Can I join Rana in cheering?
    Regardless of what the opposition’s motives are, it seems like Venezuelans have staved off the latest attempt to bring the state closer to dictatorship. Good luck — I do hope more good news is on the way.

  83. Heh, Miami Herald view of the world.

    Nice.

  84. What are the odds Chavez leaves office at the end of his term? Slim to none, I expect. This Communist farce is not yet over. Hooray for the Venezuelans, standing up to Chavez!

  85. Mr Chavez conceded just after election officials said early yesterday that the “no” camp had about 51 per cent of the vote and that the President scored only about 49 per cent support.

    And no honorable politician would ever change his stance after that.

    Except the politician that changed their stance was the one with 51%.

  86. I say that Chavez will leave office at the end of the term, he has been one of the few leaders in Venezuelan history to respect the will of the people.

  87. In the even of another coup attempt by the oligarchs or the United States however, I hope he does not leave.

  88. James,

    Off the top of your head, could you give us a list of previous Venezuelan leaders (starting with Bolivar)?

    Then, for each leader, explain how he disregarded the will of the people.

  89. “In the even[t] of another coup attempt by the oligarchs or the United States however, I hope he does not leave.”

    A ready-made excuse if Chavez stays onto power: “I didn’t want to give the Yanqui imperialists the satisfaction of seeing me quit!”

  90. Along the same lines, let’s prepare some ready-made excuses if Chavez commits human-rights abuses (including violations of property rights) and messes up the economy:

    (a) “My plan would have worked, but the Yanqui imperialists and Trotskyite, uh, I mean oligarchic wreckers sabotaged it!”

    (b) “The capitalist media is lying about me!”

    (c) “All those emigrants who are leaving this country are capitalist stooges who couldn’t stand all the social justice being implemented in my socialist paradise.”

    (d) “Yeah, criticize me, that’s just what George W. Bush [or ‘Hillary Clinton,’ or ‘Wall Street’] wants you to do.”

  91. James,

    It’s not just the elections or the calls for socialism.

    We (and by “we” I mean humanity) have seen this pattern before. Someone who is genuinely working “for the people,” as you said, does not:

    Intimidate opposition (often violently)
    Take control of the media
    Take control of the economy
    Try to maintain power indefinitely

    I assume you’re trolling, but fear you aren’t. Not that I fear you, but rather I fear that someone in this day and age can see the march toward tyranny and dismiss it as it has in the past.

    No offense James, but really, go fuck yourself…

  92. Well instead of looking for possible made-up excuses for Chavez we can look directly at the actions of Chavez and the opposition during the past 8+ years…we don’t have to speculate.
    Chavez was democratically elected twice in internationally monitored elections, he survived an actual (U.S. Backed) coup and the first thing that the opposition did was disolve the courts and the assembly(YEA DEMOCRACY!) he then survived a referendum (funded again mostly by U.S. dollars). What makes these possible excuses plausible are ACTUAL events.

  93. Taktix…

    So you are speaking for humanity now and with such kindness and decorum no less… I can only tell you that you are really wrong on a lot of the facts and I can just assume that you really get incredibly angry(probably can’t sleep at night) when you find out how many real dictators(with no pretense toward elections or rule of law) your tax dollars have supported during your lifetime and continue to support right now…

  94. Rana, you little oligarch! je je! You just HAVE to show me the room where you roll around in your money, like Scrooge McDuck!

  95. I hope everybody celebrated Monroe Doctrine Day yesterday….Yea Democracy!

  96. Remember people: DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!

  97. I should think as good Libertarians, while you would be against Chavez and his programs we might at least be able to agree to allowing the people of other nations to the right of self determination…

  98. James, I don’t think you understand libertarians.

    Libertarians hate the right-wing dictators our government has backed with tax dollars. Most libertarians, anyway.

    On the other hand, they don’t have the slightest bit of respect for letting people vote for non-libertarian policies.

  99. I should think as good Libertarians

    Drink!

  100. joe,

    I can’t believe that, given the mass of information about the way things are conducted in Venezuela, people are voting their opinions in a non-coercive manner.

    I am absolutely open to evidence that “free” elections and referendums take place in said country, but until that aforementioned evidence is presented, I have no choice but to assume that, based on the totalitarian nature of Chavez’s past actions, Chavez is a dictator.

    No bad nature, joe, as I generally respect many of your opinions, whether or not I agree, but I fear that you are simply wrong on this one, and I’ve seen a lot of evidence to back that up…

  101. Nice vote, Venezuelans.

    I guess it means there is only one Caesar Chavez after all.

  102. “We (and by “we” I mean humanity) have seen this pattern before. Someone who is genuinely working “for the people,” as you said, does not:

    Intimidate opposition (often violently)
    Take control of the media
    Take control of the economy
    Try to maintain power indefinitely”

    Hmm, how did this become a discussion of Abe Lincoln?

  103. “Rana…dear o dear…as long as the Venezuelan people actually voted for it than I am absolutely fine with the results, in fact it may in the end improve many of the reforms that are taking place. However people like Rana have the same point of view as the oligarchs do…if Chavez wins it is because of nefarious means and with malicious intent…it Chavez loses(he actually seems to be honoring the results of the elections…can’t always say the same for the opposition) than in is because of nefarious means and with malicious intent.”

    Yup, James you got me down. And the rest of Venezuelans too.
    Its just easier for people like James to categorize people as “oligarchs” or “oppressed”.

  104. Taktix,

    I think your analysis would benefit from additng some tick marks in between “democrat” and “dictator,” between “free” and “coerced.”

    No one’s claiming that Venezuela in 2007 is a model of democracy that every other country should copy, but didn’t you notice the outcome yesterday? The Venezuela people don’t seem to be as coerced as you assume they are.

    rana,

    James shouldn’t have compared you to an oligarch. Nonetheless, you completely whiffed on answering the point he made.

  105. Sorry for whiffing (is that a word?). Havent had the time to answer… Still dont have much time or much desire to be honest but here goes…

    “No one’s claiming that Venezuela in 2007 is a model of democracy that every other country should copy, but didn’t you notice the outcome yesterday? The Venezuela people don’t seem to be as coerced as you assume they are.”

    If this is the point James was trying to make then I would have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see Chavez accept his defeat. BTW, which wasnt easy- in fact it is rumored the delay in CNE reporting the outcome was because everyone was trying to calm down an irrate Chavez (pictures of his speech Sunday night show his right hand swollen and cut from his tantrum- I guess he banged on walls, etc…). but its rumors, probably true, but rumors nonetheless.
    The funny thing is that the democratic Chavez of Sunday night dissapeared by Monday morning. He scolded all his followers and said “they OWED him”. Those people who did not get their houses, scholarships, etc… that HE promised, and voted against HIM should just go to the opposition’s side because the revolucion does not need people who are self-interested.
    Chavez had high-ranking military officials stand up at a press conference and yell “Patria, Socialismo o Muerte”. Pretty scary to see military men pledging allegiance to Death (nevermind that the military is NOT supposed to be political).
    Chavez went as far as to call the opposition’s victory “una mierda”- breaking his OWN “Ley de Contenido”, which he was not persecuted for.
    Also, PDVSA workers who did not vote are being threatened to lose their jobs and post-retirement benefits.
    Chavez may not be a dictator but he is FAR from democratic.

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