The Further Erosion of Venezuelan Democracy

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With revenues from oil exports falling precipitously and a popular mandate allowing him to run for election indefinitely, Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez is ramping up attacks on his political opponents. Manuel Rosales, former governor of Zulia, Venezuela's richest and largest state, and current mayor of Maracaibo, ran against Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections. Now, the blustering Bolivarian is threatening to have Rosales arrested for "illegal enrichment."

In a rare show of unity, opposition leaders from different political parties joined the march and spoke out against the bid to detain Rosales, which they said was a case of political persecution by socialist President Hugo Chavez.

"What they want to do to Manuel Rosales is not a trial, it's a political lynching," Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma said at the march, where protesters waved photos of Rosales, the most public face of Venezuela's fractured opposition.

The public prosecutor on Thursday asked a court for a warrant to arrest Rosales, a former presidential candidate who is mayor of Maracaibo, the second-largest city in the OPEC nation. The prosecutor on Friday requested Rosales' case be moved from Zulia, where he has wide support.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Chavez will take "direct control over lucrative transportation hubs that were previously managed at the state level," a move that "deals a blow to Mr. Chávez's political opposition, as several of the key installations are in states controlled by opposition governors."

The clever economists of the revolution, fresh from enacting price controls that have denuded Venezuelan grocery stores of meat and dairy products, will raise the value added tax on goods and services from 9 percent to 12 percent and increase the minimum wage by 10 percent, moves that will enviably prolong the economic slowdown, real economists have predicted. 

And in other revolutionary news: Following the leads of Naomi Campbell, Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, and Danny Glover, Che star Benicio del Toro met with Chavez in Caracas last week, saying he had "a good time" with El Commandante.

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  1. Che star Benicio del Toro met with Chavez in Caracas last week, saying he had “a good time” with El Comandante.

    That’s because Benicio doesn’t live there. He can return to his cozy home anytime. Venezuelans, however, are left to suffer Chavez’s experiments in social engineering.

  2. “arrested for ‘illegal enrichment.'”

    Who does Chavez think he is? Barney Frank?

  3. Yo, fuch Chavez.

    Goddam wood tick.

  4. A model of democracy.

  5. Chavez is getting desperate now he can’t talk about the devil Bush anymore. He is running out of cards to play.

  6. Insert obligatory “joe was an idiot and now he ran way” comment here…

  7. Taktix-

    Do you miss Joe? I do.

  8. As I’ve been predicting for a while, Venezuela is now heading rapidly in the direction of Zimbabwe, and at an accelerating pace.

  9. Do you miss Joe? I do.

    Since Obama got in and Chavez went all Stalinesque, yes, I miss joe a lot right now…

  10. Enviably prolong? Is that sarcasm or the booze talking?

  11. You guys only miss joe because you miss the opportunity to rub his face in how wrong he was.

  12. “You guys only miss joe because you miss the opportunity to rub his face in how wrong he was.”

    Reason enough.

  13. You guys only miss joe because you miss the opportunity to rub his face in how wrong he was.

    I thought he’d man up and take it. I was wrong about that.

  14. Sadly, many all of my Liberal friends seem to want this to happen here.

    I wish I had known about Libertarianism before the election. I would have voted for someone else besides our current president.

  15. Suki,

    I voted for George HW Bush in 1988. These things happen.

  16. If it’s any consolation, Obama would have been elected no matter what you did on Election Day. Your vote is statistically meaningless.

  17. Joshua Holmes,

    It DOES matter! It is my vote and I helped this happen rather than helping to prevent it.

  18. We should grant Venezuelans the same generous immigration policy that we give to Cubans. Venezuela is poised to become the next Cuba.

  19. Suki,

    Don’t beat yourself up, politicians are liars. I voted for W in 2000, which makes me partially liable for the Iraq war. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes & don’t repeat them.

  20. Thanks all. Just glad I know I have more choices for next time, if we get a next time.

  21. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072040.html

    Israel has engaged in an investigation because of the reporting of Haaretz of interviews with IDF soldiers that the rules of war were, er, greatly relaxed in the latest Gaza slaughter….

    Surely Moynihan, the Great Defender of Human Rights, has something to say about this?

    What?

    Nothing?

    Oh, Chavez is evil…Hmm…Islamic-facism…Hmmm…OK, Mike, that’s OK, we understand, um, stop before you start to defend Latin American right wing death squad supporters….

  22. jtuf
    Would you rather be a Palestinian living under Israeli control or a Venezulaun under Chavez?

    Hmmm, if I remember correctly, Venezulaun’s can actually vote against Chavez if they want…

    Should we grant Palestinians the same generous immigration policy we do Cubans?

  23. Is there ANYONE who would rather be a Palestinian in the West Bank or Gaza than a citizen of Venezula under Chavez?

    Please, please, right wing nuts, say the former.

    Make my day, as the guy said.

    But then, ask yourself: why all the complaining about Venezula but none about Palestine?

    Hmmmm?

  24. I discovered libertarianism when I was 16, so the only presidential vote I’ve cast was for Ron Paul in the primaries, but I cheered for Bush in 2000, so I feel bad about that.

  25. MNG, there is a greater chance of America becoming Venezuela than becoming Israel, so it is a more relevant to an American blog.

  26. Yeah, MNG, whatever, pardon me while I put another cock in my mouth!

  27. Uhh, yeah, Spoonman, but we give $3 billion dollars a year to Israel and doodly squat to Venezula.

  28. Uhh, yeah, Spoonman, but we give $3 billion dollars a year to Israel and doodly squat to Venezula.

    And no one here besides that dipshit Underzog will defend that.

  29. Spoonman
    Agreed.

  30. MNG,

    I wouldn’t want to live under either government. I understand & agree with your point, but why do you always obessess about Israel? You’re like the left wing version of Moynihan.

  31. If anybody knows Atlas Shrugged very well I have a question over here.

    Thanks.

  32. MNG-

    Of course, you are spot-on regarding Moynihan’s “blind” side. No sane person could pick Gaza in response to your question. We know that Moynihan would neither ask, nor answer, such a question.

    However, you should not hesitate to take out your can of whup-ass on Chavez. I don’t know how much attention you pay to Venezuela, but, the little I read indicates that individual freedom ain’t faring all too well.

  33. Cabeza de Vaca-

    Venezuela does not have a lobby that can derail a presidential appointment. It also does not have a lobby that sees to it that not 3 billion, but closer to five times that, is fleeced, anuually, from american taxpayers. Further, Venezuela does not have a lobby that spends tens of millions of dollars. annually, to promote the enactment and expansion of hate crimes legislation.

    From a liberatrian perspective, we should be shouting, screaming and obsessing about Israel.

  34. Libertymike,

    Good points on Israel & I agree the sooner we cut of funding & support the better. My point is the American government supports both financially and,or militarily lots of abusive & corrupt governments. The whole reason we got into first gulf war was to defend Saudi Arabia & Kuwait. Which eventually led to a trillion dollar war & terrorist attacks on American soil. We shouldn’t obessess on America’s imperialist support for Israel & lose sight that it is just as wrong & dangerous to support any foreign power.

  35. MNG, would you rather be a Palestinian living under Israeli control or an Armenian living in the Ottoman Empire in 1915? Would you rather be a Baha’i living in Iran? Or a Chechen living in Grozny? I guess you would pick all of those other things, because I have never heard you mention any one of them.

  36. Libertymike, the aid package to Israel comes from Carter, not any lobby. According to USAid:

    CAIRO — In the three decades since 1975, when the United States began its foreign assistance to Egypt, the most populous Arab country has made enormous progress. While its population rose from about 40 million to more than 70 million, incomes also rose and the standard of living has greatly improved.

    At the 30th anniversary celebration of the U.S. aid program last year, the aid given totaled $28 billion, by far the largest amount of development aid given to any country in the world by the United States.

    USAID assistance really took off after 1979 when the leaders of Egypt and Israel made the courageous decision to end the state of war between the two countries and agree to a peace accord at Camp David. Egypt recovered all of the Sinai Peninsula and the two countries have remained at peace.

    And the aid promised in the Camp David Accord to Israel to the aid Egypt gets, and taxpayers have spent over $50 billion to buy Carter a nobel peace prize. I’m glad Israel and Egypt made peace, but they should have been left to negotiate the treaty on their own. By brokering the agreement, Carter put a huge burden on the US public and he allowed Gaza to be left out. Gaza should have gone back to Egypt, but Egypt didn’t want it.

  37. MNG, I would not want to live in Gaza. Who would want to live under Hamas rule? Jerusalem is under Israel’s jurisdiction. I would have more freedom living as a Palestinian in Jerusalem than living as a marijuana seller in DC.

  38. we give $3 billion dollars a year to Israel and doodly squat to Venezula.

    Uh, we buy more oil from them than any other country does. And we pay full price per barrel, and in cash – unlike any other country does.

    Besides, why do you want to bring up Gaza to make Venezuela look good? You could just have easily said something like “Hey, would you rather under Chavez than in Haiti/Somalia/Chad/Bolivia…”

  39. Some one should email Joe and tell him we miss him.

  40. Fuck Chavez, fuck those celebrities that support him, and fuck anyone else who supports him.

  41. I’d rather live in Gaza than in North Korea or Zimbabwe.

  42. And in other revolutionary news: Following the leads of Naomi Campbell, Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, and Danny Glover, Che star Benicio del Toro met with Chavez in Caracas last week, saying he had “a good time” with El Commandante.

    Moynihan,

    Is it necessary to bring celebrities into this? I know it may seem immoral that they lend support to dictators and nutty political causes, but it is not. What is really going on with these celebrities is clever leftist are using mentally retarded people who happen to be actors to advance their agenda.

    The actors are victims in this. Case in point, TMZ has footage of Benicio del Toro walking into traffic and bystanders and handlers having to pull him back. If he can’t figure out how to keep his own ass alive without someone doing it for him, how do you think he can distinguish between different political regimes? There must be a special form of autism that allows many of these actors to sound emotive, articulate and almost human, but beyond that they are walking vegetables.

    More pity and less contempt in the future, okay?

  43. It’s nice to get a preview of Obamanomics.

  44. Israel has engaged in an investigation because of the reporting of Haaretz of interviews with IDF soldiers that the rules of war were, er, greatly relaxed in the latest Gaza slaughter….

    You mean Israel was indiscriminately firing rockets into Palestinian civilian areas with the express intent of killing civilians? Oh wait…

    Cry me a river, fucktard. Wait till people start shelling you, see how nice you are about it.

  45. Oh, and people don’t want to live in Gaza because it’s run by fucking terrorists, not because Israel occasionally defends itself.

    Do you know what happens to Palestinians in Gaza who suggest that maybe eternal war with Israel isn’t such a great idea, and maybe they should focus on building a better Gaza instead? They’re killed.

  46. You mean Israel was indiscriminately firing rockets into Palestinian civilian areas with the express intent of killing civilians? Oh wait…

    I really don’t give a flip about the, ‘he started it, no, he started’ rhetoric battles Israelis and Palestinian partisans always engage in.

    However, the day Palestinians can tell nearly every member of congress to jump and how high to jump, I’ll be quite a bit more concerned about them.

    Until that day, Congress can tell Israel to fuck off, not for any reason to do with the underlying morality of what happens in the Middle East but just because they can, I will continue to be suspicious of Israelis and Americans who show a greater deal of loyalty to her than their own country. You know, like a certain ex-president who professed he would ‘die for Israel’ but somehow couldn’t be bothered to find his way to Vietnam while he was still a young buck in fighting condition.

    Let me repeat, An American President said, he would die for Israel. If that doesn’t raise your ire than you are just blind.

  47. If that doesn’t raise your ire than you are just blind.

    If you want us to respond with passion, you have to stop giving hints like this that you’re pretending to be stupid. It really spoils the fun.

  48. Damn, and I like some of del Toro’s work. I didn’t want to see him joining a list of retards.

  49. LOOOOOOOOOL@ MNG in this thread.

  50. Does Gaza have 100% literacy yet, likce Cuba? That would make the decision harder.

  51. Venezuela does not have a lobby that can derail a presidential appointment.

    You mean the guy who criticized the PRC for being too lenient on Tienamen square protesters, and held up Saudi Arabia as a model of good governance?

    If the Israel lobby blocked his appointment, thank God for the Israel lobby. Period.

  52. Maybe I bring up Israel because, since any sane person would rather live in Venezula than Gaza or the West Bank, it seems odd for Moynihan to keep harping on Venezula and never mention the restrictions on liberty in Gaza/West Bank.

    That’s right for the goofballs on the thread: you can’t get out of this by saying “Oh I would not want to live in Gaza because Hamas runs it.” You would not want to live in an occupied territory like the West Bank either.

    Yet nary a word of criticism on Israel from you guys. Sheesh.

    Libertymike
    I’m not defending Chavez. He’s a thug, an enemy of freedom.

    For that matter so is Hamas.

    But that does not somehow make me have a blind eye towards Israel’s brutal occupation of thousands of people.

    Oh, Israel just walked into the West Bank and kidnapped (“arrested”) 10 people the other day. Yeah, thats a “two-state” solution!

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/20/africa/20mideast.php

  53. MNG, care to respond to this:

    Kunal | March 23, 2009, 10:09pm | #
    MNG, would you rather be a Palestinian living under Israeli control or an Armenian living in the Ottoman Empire in 1915? Would you rather be a Baha’i living in Iran? Or a Chechen living in Grozny? I guess you would pick all of those other things, because I have never heard you mention any one of them.

  54. Maybe I bring up Israel because, since any sane person would rather live in Venezula than Gaza or the West Bank,
    […]
    Yet nary a word of criticism on Israel from you guys. Sheesh.

    I can’t answer which I would prefer, because they’re both detestable places and it’s a stupid question, but there’re more antagonistic entities lobbing rockets than Israel itself there.

  55. MGN, actually if I had to choose between living in the West Bank and living under Chavez, I would pick living in the West Bank. For that matter, I would rather be a Palistinian living in the West Bank than a Palistinian living in Lebanon or a bisexual living in Syria.

  56. Right on MNG!

    You totally spanked them all again!

    Gaza would be a paradise if it were not for those Zionist Nazis destroying the place every week.

    Keep on Reason for their shifty “hey look over here and ignore over there” policy of supporting the Zionist takeover of the world.

  57. TofuSushi, what exactly do you mean by “paradise”? Having a rational debate requires being more specific.

  58. MNG, when did Israel invade Venezuela? If the answer is “never,” then what the fuck does it have to do with this thread?

    Hint: the answer is “never.”

    jtuf: TofuSushi is a particularly obnoxious spoof. Do not engage him/her/it.

  59. TofuSushi, what exactly do you mean by “paradise”? Having a rational debate requires being more specific.

    Really, really nice.

  60. Xeones,

    Silencing debate is futile with even the limited freedoms we have here. Shouldn’t you be in Alabama or some other oppressive place?

  61. Could we have one foreign policy post that doesn’t turn into an Pali festival of recycling?

  62. TofuSushi, what do you have against Alabama?

  63. TofuSushi, you are free to rant. We are free to ignore you. The reason staff is free to exclude you. They’ve been very generous by allowing you to express your views unfiltered for free here. I for one would appreciate it if you spoke more civilly here. Remember, we are guests at someone elses site.

  64. TofuSushi, what do you have against Alabama?

    Mostly the Jim Crow south slavery stuff and oppression of other freedoms. Otherwise, nothing really.

  65. jtuf,

    Good, then ignore, don’t pull a Xeones.

  66. All I ever see is “comment by tofu”, which seems civil enough to me.

  67. crimethink
    I can certainly think of worse off places than the Occupied Territories. That certainly doesn’t mean the Occupied Territories are not bad off.

    And your point is funny: I say “hey, the restrictions on life and liberty in the Occupied Territories are worse than in Venezuala, but Moynihan talks about the latter all the time and never the former” and you reply with “well, why don’t you ever talk about Armenia?” You see how silly that is, right?

    “MGN, actually if I had to choose between living in the West Bank and living under Chavez, I would pick living in the West Bank.”

    Then you must be some kind of masochist.

  68. I also answered that question when I mentioned that my nation does not financially and diplomatically support what happened in, say, Grozny, like we do what happens in Gaza or the West Bank.

    So as soon as you tell me what other nation that oppresses its people so bad we give such support from then I’ll start bitching about it.

    Go ahead.

    Anytime.

  69. Anonymous | March 24, 2009, 12:24am | #
    If that doesn’t raise your ire than you are just blind.

    If you want us to respond with passion, you have to stop giving hints like this that you’re pretending to be stupid. It really spoils the fun.

    Yeah, way to address an obvious problem, or at least, a telling symptom of a far greater problem. In a far less decadent (meaning those who do not secure their own interest first) society, say that of the Roman empire, what Clinton expressed would have cost him his head in the literal sense.

    But, no, the best you could possibly
    come back with is, ‘you stupid, I be ‘mongst the smarties.’

  70. TofuSushi | March 24, 2009, 9:22am | #

    Xeones,

    Silencing debate is futile with even the limited freedoms we have here. Shouldn’t you be in Alabama or some other oppressive place?

    TofuSushi | March 24, 2009, 10:03am | #

    TofuSushi, what do you have against Alabama?

    Mostly the Jim Crow south slavery stuff and oppression of other freedoms. Otherwise, nothing really.

    TofuSushi, how could Xeones possible “be” in the “Jim Crow South” or the slave holding South for that matter? Those places don’t exist anymore. Furthermore, when did Xeones try to “silence debate”? Your rhetoric boils down to making accusations and stringing together as many emotionally charged terms as possible in an attempt to get your opponents upset.

  71. TofuSushi is a particularly hilarious spoof.

    Gaza would be a paradise if it were not for those Zionist Nazis destroying the place every week.

    Comedy Gold.

  72. Your rhetoric boils down to making accusations and stringing together as many emotionally charged terms as possible in an attempt to get your opponents upset.

    That’s because he’s (she’s?) doing a parody of a troll, fool.

  73. “why all the complaining about Venezula but none about Palestine?”
    Well for one I know some people (like the UN General Assembly) have to make every single issue in the world about Palestine, really it is not.

    Secondly, everyone complains about Palestine. especially the brutal Hamas and Fatah that opprese the palestinian people. Or groups like Hizbollah oppressing the Lebanese. You’re right, they need to throw off the yoke of their oppressors too. Only when Hamas , Fatah, Hizbollah, the Bathists and Syria/Iran are finally kicked out of the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon and the people start taking charge of their own lives and institute reforms giving them economic and political freedom will any of those people start to be free.

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