Bolívar’s Lesson to the República Bolivariana

bolivar-power.jpg

. . . nada es tan peligroso como dejar permanecer largo tiempo en un mismo ciudadano el poder. El pueblo se acostumbra a obedecerle y él se acostumbra a mandarlo; de done se origina la usurpación y la tiranía.

While Hugo Chavez, the former failed golpista and present day Venezuelan president a la Fidel, is doing his best to change his country’s constitution again. This time it isn’t to extend the number of terms he may serve in office, but to extend his “mandate” indefinitely.  One of Mr. Chavez’s first acts as president was to change the official name of Venezuela to the República Bolivariana de Venezuela, in honor of Bolívar, the Latin American champion of independence from Spain. Ironically, protest groups have been banned from hanging the above sign quoting Bolívar on the tyranny of extended presidencies.

Even more ironic, it appears that Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (“ZP”) may actually follow in the groundbreaking footsteps of his predecessor and political rival, Jose Maria Aznar. While Aznar’s presidency may have turned to shambles and his legacy ruined as a result of his handling of the March 11, 2004 Atocha train bombings and what has been widely perceived as his subsequent arrogance, Aznar should be remembered for his singular willingness to voluntarily step down from power. From 722 with Don Pelayo until Felipe Gonzalez lost in 1996, Spain has not been a country defined by voluntary transfers of power. Even after Franco’s +40 years in totalitarian control, the new Spanish constitution did not establish mandatory term limits for its chief executives. Aznar was the first Spanish leader in the nation’s history to make the promise and not seek reelection.

Rumor has it that ZP is considering following Aznar’s example. Maybe ZP, a Chavez apologist who tried unsuccessfully to resell U.S. military technologies to the supreme Bolivarian (probably in exchange for cheap oil), has been reading the anti-Chavez propaganda with an open mind. In the U.S., we’ve got George W., but at least we have a sure-fire system that safeguards us from having W. or others like him for more than 8 years.

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7 Comments

Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

7 responses to “Bolívar’s Lesson to the República Bolivariana

  1. ReWrite

    The US doesn’t have a “sure-fire system that safeguards us from having W. or others like him for more than 8 years.” In a (“so called”) democracy like the US there are formal ways (that the elite have created) to change such laws. Two of which include: by vote (which Chavez unsuccessful attempted in the past- thus proving the viability of democracy in Venezuela) and by legislation. In NYC, for instance, Mayor Bloomberg extended his term limits by City Council vote only (unlike Venezuela where the people actually got to vote).

    The Supreme Court could also rule in favor of extending terms limits.

    Of all of the leaders in the world, including the current President of the US, Bill Clinton or the 2nd coming of Bill Clinton, it doesn’t make much sense to hate on Chavez.

  2. eric

    You’re correct, the U.S. doesn’t have a 100% sure-fire system. The Constitution may be amended, but it is very difficult to do so (you need state and federal legislative majorities).

    Chavez wasn’t unsuccessful in his past amendments to presidential terms limits. He did calling a national emergency, suspending the national assembly and appointing a constitutional assembly to change the term limitations and restructure the supreme court so he could fill it with his allies. The only difference with the new proposal is that it is bolder.

    It is great to love Chavez from abroad, but I am sure that you wouldn’t appreciate him were you to live in Venezuela, especially considering you’d be forced to watch only pro-Chavez television (the other ones have been shut down), freedom of expression, or the right to freely travel abroad due to currency export restrictions.

    Just because he is against the international status quo doesn’t make him celebratory.

  3. ReWrite

    I do really want to go to Venezuela to check it out for myself. But from what I have heard from non-elitist Venezuelans here and people that have gone there is that there is a lot of support among the people for Chavez.

    I know you haven’t lived in the US since Bush was elected, but the way you describe Chavez is almost exactly what Bush has done. The Supreme Court is made of up a bunch of conservative nuts that are on the verge of taking away a woman’s right to control their body. When they have had no choice, but to oppose the President, it hasn’t matter b/c the President has simply not followed their decision (Gitmo detainees is a classic example). And do not forget that it was the Supreme Court that put Bush in power 2000(Chavez was actually elected, unlike Bush).

    The US Army Intelligence (not FBI, local police or even CIA) is data-mining, conducting searches and seizures (of peoples homes and workplaces) and other forms of gathering intelligence on US citizens inside of the US. Much of which is utilized to deter decent and has nothing to do w/ alleged links to terror. It is a scary day when our own Army has turned against us. Maybe we should be happy that the Supreme Court said that we have the right to bear arms.

    The problem is that the media outlets we read/watch to get your information are controlled by a small handful of corporations that helped put (and keep) Bush in power. They have almost all, categorically, refused to challenge Bush on anything b/c Bush is their bitch. Bush helped them eliminate competition and removed most restrictions, meanwhile not only did they not challenge him, but they were his propaganda machine and helped fill his (and other politicians) pockets w/ cash.

    This is how modern imperialism works. And in my estimation we need more Chavez to combat it. Chavez certainly is far from perfect, but I completely understand a nation that wants to be liberated of neo-colonial ties to the West and the US. I do think it will take a strong leader(s) to effectuate such a change. One would be extremely naive to think that the West and the US aren’t attempting to undermine Chavez internally. Such highly illegal policies clearly didn’t end with Ronald Reagan. In fact it is difficult to name a Latin American country where the US didn’t purposely undermine democracy for it own (Corporate) interest (but generally in the name of fighting the specter of Communism). Well now the US has the specter of terrorism which is really all about Oil. And Venezuela has Oil and god forbid that US corporations are making a direct profit off it at the expense of the Venezuelan people. The actions of Reagan (et. al.) to undermine democracy, NAFTA, various other trade agreements (which heavy favor the US) and the current state of patent law (which actually quite a big deal) have not only put many farmers (particularly in central America) out of business and forced them to come to the US ‘illegally’ to feed their families, but have also allowed US (and the West) corporations to control the vast majority of all of the natural (and human via sweatshops) resources in Latin America (and many other parts of the developing world).

    And for that I support Chavez and other such leaders in Latin America. And hope they continue to grow, unify and push the US and its corporations out of the region.

  4. eric

    Chavez is a freak and demagogue just like Bush, the only difference is that he is on the other side of the fence. There is absolutely no justification for supporting Chavez. Venezuela should have the right to a non-elitist government, but that doesn’t mean they deserve Chavez.

  5. ReWrite

    it is more than just a ‘non-elitist’ gov’t.

    I wonder what your opinion is of Correa, Morales and Lugo?

  6. eric

    I think that if you just listen to Chavez speak for about 50 seconds, you’ll see how counter-productive he is.

    I know less about Correa and Morales. Lulo of Brazil is a serious politician.

  7. ReWrite

    I was referring to Lugo, not Lula (I don’t think there is a Lulo).

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