Hugo Chavez Has a(nother) Posse


In December, Venezuela's president lost a referendum that would have granted him near-dictatorial powers and the chance to become president for life. Yes, he lost it. Not that you could tell.

President Hugo Chávez has enacted a slew of presidential decrees which formalize the creation of a popular militia and further consolidate state control over key areas of the economy such as agriculture and tourism.

Mr. Chávez… published the decrees on Friday, just at the close of a special 18-month period that allowed him to bypass Congress in making laws. But only the titles, and not the texts, of the decrees were released. On Tuesday, the government made the full texts widely available.

The Jose de Cordoba and Darcy Crowe story runs down the changes, although this one stood out for me.

Among the biggest changes—and one which was turned down in December—was the creation of another branch of the military, a "National Bolivarian Militia," which analysts say could challenge the position and role of the traditional armed forces… Mr. Chávez also changed the name of the armed forces, which are supposed to be apolitical, from the National Armed Forces. They are now to be called the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, invoking the title Mr. Chávez has chosen for his self-proclaimed socialist revolution.

Quoth Chavez ally Mario Isea:

Of course there are going to be similarities [to the December referendum.] It's the same person who is legislating.