. . . 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.