Saturday, December 01, 2007

Venezuelan Freedom at the Precipice

Sunday, Venezuela under the rule of Hugo Chavez, holds a referendum election. It is essentially a yes or no vote on a new constitution for the country. A piece of paper written by Hugo Chavez granting himself, or any subsequent president, expanded powers. No one knows how the results will be reported tomorrow because there are suspicions the actual votes will be as ephemeral as stage lighting.

Wall Street Journal Online: Polls show most Venezuelans are also opposed, but a genuinely fair vote may be impossible. The President's electoral council controls the voter rolls, the voting machines and the ultimate count.

The American Thinker: Unlike previous "elections" which were monitored by foreign observers ... this referendum will not have any oversight. Venezuela did not invite electoral observers from the Organization of American States or the European Unions to monitor the voting. This clears the way for Chavez and his allies to fabricate the referendum's outcome.

Ecrisis: Jimmy Carter wants you to know that Venezuelans face a dilemma on 12-2-07: to vote or not to vote on Chavez's "constitution." Carter informs us, "Numerous sectors, both supporting and opposing the current administration, have questioned the process that led to calling the referendum. Among other aspects, it has been argued that no clear rules were issued; inequitable access to the mass media has prevailed; and not enough time or opportunity was allowed to hold a mature and responsible debate about the proposed reforms. Various sectors underscored that, given the extensive nature of the proposed reforms; a Constituent Assembly was called for rather than a referendum. … Jimmy Carter calls this a "dilemma." We call it criminal.

To be fair, the Chavista’s believe the powers to the Presidency are being given way too much attention when the reforms are all about social and economic justice.

Gregory Wilpert: in the process of focusing on the centralizing aspects of the reform, most observers willfully miss the ways in which the positive aspects of the upcoming reform have the potential to make Venezuelan political life more in tune with the interests of the country's mostly poor majority.

In one of the greatest departures from the 1999 constitution, the reform proposal introduces a new level of government, the "popular power". … The popular power represents the "lowest" level of government, in that it is the organization of communities in forms of direct democracy. … The opposition has tried to twist the meaning of this article, claiming that it lays the groundwork for dictatorship because it supposedly means that the authorities of the popular power are named from above, since they are not elected. This, however, represents a willful misunderstanding, as the popular power is supposed to be the place where democracy is direct, that is, unmediated by elected representatives.

Ok. No elected representatives at the community level. Only direct democracy where the community voices their communal wishes in community gatherings. How can thuggery possibly distort the enlightened compromises of communal consensus?