I would like to take a moment to welcome our hemisphere's newest elected dictator. While I'm grateful that he doesn't control a superpower like the United States, it is troubling that he's sitting on top of a lot of oil. His recent attacks on George W. Bush—calling him el diablo—have endeared him to many on the left. Though I have no love for Mr. Bush (an understatement), I emphatically disavow any and all Chavez apologists.
Back in July, The Progressive published a March 28th interview of Chavez by Greg Palast. The very first question says it all.
Q: Your opponents are saying that you are beginning a slow-motion dictatorship. Is that what we are seeing?
Hugo Chávez: They have been saying that for a long time. When they’re short of ideas, any excuse will do as a vehicle for lies. That is totally false. I would like to invite the citizens of Great Britain and the citizens of the U.S. and the citizens of the world to come here and walk freely through the streets of Venezuela, to talk to anyone they want, to watch television, to read the papers. We are building a true democracy, with human rights for everyone, social rights, education, health care, pensions, social security, and jobs.
His responses throughout the interview showed a remarkable consistency in their level of honesty. But let's see, how honest was he in his first response? According to Dictionary.com,
1. a person exercising absolute power, esp. a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.
I can't help but notice that the definition says nothing about democracy or human rights. It only talks about absolute power and non-hereditary succession. Certainly, as yet, Venezuela has no hereditary succession. But does Chavez have absolute power?
Venezuela's Chavez takes sweeping powers
The new law -- which Chavez has dubbed the "mother of all laws" -- gives him the power to transform state institutions in 11 key sectors, including the economy, the military, transportation, security and oil.
The measure giving him power to rule by decree was approved Wednesday by the entirely pro-Chavez National Assembly.
Gee, sound like a dictatorship to me. My favorite part of it all is this choice quote:
"We are going to enact it with a red ink and from today it will be in effect -- in the name of God and the revolution," Chavez told a news conference, referring to his signature Socialist color.
He's invoking both Marx AND God! Damn, that's sweet. Although he really should've signed it in heavy crude—after all, oil money is the opiate of the masses.