>This process is unstoppable. This process is a historic necessity.
— Juan Montenegro Nunez, Pro-Chavez Deputy, National Assembly of Venezuela, January 18, 2007
Despite previous rumblings of dissatisfaction from the Bush Administration regarding the Chavez regime, since Comrade Hugo’s second re-election in December 2006, the White House has been remarkably silent on the dramatic acceleration of the communization of Venezuela. I rather suspect that the Socialist Republic of Venezuela has taken a back seat in the foreign policy deliberations of President Bush and his advisors to the Middle Eastern state with which Chavez is allied, namely, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In confronting the Islamo-Marxist global alliance, the USA is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Which is which, however? Is Venezuela the rock and Iran the hard place? Or is it vice versa? Either way, no one in the USA or Canada is prepared to deal with the political (and possibly radioactive) fall out.
The article below notes that Chavez attended the recent Mercosur conference in Brazil, where he urged fellow leftist presidents to reject the pro-Washington policies of Latin America’s main trading bloc. What is not stated is that he probably also urged them to join Comrade Fidel’s pet project, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which presently includes Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and, in the near future, Ecuador, and which has received the endorsement of the Vancouver-based World Peace Forum.
Venezuela’s Chavez gets initial approval to approve laws by decree
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill granting President Hugo Chavez the power to rule by decree for 18 months so that he can impose sweeping economic, social and political change.
Emboldened by his landslide re-election last month, the leftist leader has called for “revolutionary laws” to accelerate the country’s transformation into a full socialist state.
“This process is unstoppable,” lawmaker Juan Montenegro Nunez told the National Assembly Thursday. “This process is a historic necessity.”
The vote was unanimous as the National Assembly has been entirely filled with Chavez’s allies since opposition parties boycotted 2005 elections.
Chavez began his third term last week by announcing his intent to nationalize key sectors of the economy, rewrite the country’s constitution to eliminate presidential term limits, and strip the Central Bank of its autonomy.
He also called for an end to foreign ownership of lucrative crude oil refineries. Venezuela is the world’s fifth oil producer and the fourth supplier to the United States, its top customer.
“What is becoming evident is that all the powers are one single power in Venezuela — Hugo Chavez,” said opposition politician Gerardo Blyde.
Chavez has angered Washington with his relentless anti-U.S. rhetoric, his support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions and his warm relations with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And yet with oil profits booming and his popularity high, Chavez seems to be in step with many Venezuelans.
At the apex of a resurgent Latin American left, he urged South American leaders meeting in Brazil Thursday to abandon the U.S.-supported free market policies and privatization of state industries that formed the pillars of their main trade bloc, Mercosur.
“We came to approve accords, create space (for the disenfranchised), projects to strengthen the real integration of South America and contribute with something we consider absolutely necessary: the reformulation of Mercosur,” Chavez said.
The Venezuelan bill provides a broad “mother law” that would enable Chavez to enact laws by decree. The measure is expected to easily win final approval on its second reading in the assembly.
National Assembly President Cilia Flores said that vote would probably be next week, though she did not specify a day.
“The president has asked for a year and a half, and he will have a year and a half to adapt all of these laws to the new political model,” Flores said as the debate opened Thursday. The discussion lasted four hours, though there was no real opposition.
Chavez has not spelled out what other changes he intends to make, but Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro suggested nationalization also was on the horizon for the mining sector.
“The basic industries of minerals should be in the hands of the national state,” he said at the Mercosur summit in Brazil.
It was unclear whether that would mean a total state takeover or majority stakes for the government in mining operations now held by private companies. Already state conglomerates have for decades dominated the mining of iron and bauxite to produce steel and aluminum.
Chavez last week designated Venezuela’s main telecommunications company and the country’s electricity and natural gas sectors as targets for nationalization.
Chavez has formed a commission to rewrite the constitution in keeping with his socialist vision and expects to hold a referendum on the changes by the end of the year. Chavez has already revised the constitution once since he took office in 1999.
Among the changes, Chavez is seeking an end to presidential term limits, which would allow him to run again for the presidency in December 2012.
Chavez has been emboldened to make more radical changes at home after winning re-election with 63% of the vote, his widest margin ever.
Chavez says he is crafting a new sort of “21st century socialism” for Venezuela. Critics say it is starting to look like old-fashioned totalitarianism by a leader obsessed with power.
Following his most recent electoral triumph, Comrade Chavez proposed the amalgamation of the presidential party, Fifth Republic Movement (MVR), and 23 pro-presidential parties, including the Communist Party of Venezuela into one new organism, to be called the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Spanish: Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV). On December 18 Minister of Communication and Information Willian Lara dispatched a missive to the National Electoral Council, in which the proposal to dissolve the MVR and organize the PSUV in 2007 was outlined. The parties that supported Chávez in the 2006 presidential election and ratified the formation of a single-party dictatorship (although not phrased as such), arranged by the number of electoral votes received, include:
- Fifth Republic Movement (MVR)
- For Social Democracy (PODEMOS)
- Fatherland for All (PPT)
- Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV)
- People’s Electoral Movement (MEP)
- Everybody Wins Independent Movement (MIGATO)
- Venezuelan Popular Unity (UPV)
- Revolutionary Middle Class (CMR)
- Socialist League (LS)
- Movement for Direct Democracy (MDD)
- Emergent People (GE)
- Union Party
- Militants Civic Movement (MCM)
- National Socialist Group of Liberation Pro Venezuela (PROVEN)
- Communitary Patriotic Unity (UPC)
- New People Concentration Movement (MCGN)
- Action Force of Base Coordination (FACOBA)
- Independents for the National Community (IPCN)
- Active Democracy National Organization (ONDA)
- National Independent Movement (MNI)
- Laboral Power (PL)
- Venezuelan Revolutionary Currents (CRV)
- Action Networks of Communitary Change (REDES)
Meanwhile, in another blow for freedom in Venezuela, Rear Admiral Luis Goatherd, who holds a position in the presidential staff, affirmed that the National Armed Forces will support President Chavez’s “21st century socialism.” Patriotic officers and enlisted men in Venezuela’s armed forces defected at least five years ago and organized themselves into the Venezuelan Military Resistance Movement. National Guard Brigadier General Angel Sánchez Velasco joined the resistance on October 24, 2002. His predictions regarding Chavez’s dictatorship by stealth have materialized: “Wake up. Chavez has smuggled a dictatorship in through the back-door. But together, we can give the country a better future, and put a brake on Chavez’s subversive Castro-Communist project.” Too late.