Third Party & Independents Archives

A Sad Day in Venezuela

In a sad day for freedom, individual rights and sustainable democratic institutions, the people of Venezuela overwhelmingly rejected a recall referendum of President Hugo Chavez. Chavez, a man who has repeatedly used violence to suppress opposition, has declared that he will further centralize power in the wake of this victory. He claims that he will exert controls over the country’s courts and tighten his hold over the national media.

Chavez’s agenda is the same as the rest of the leftist thugs that have destroyed the economies and futures of the people of Latin American throughout the last seventy years. He offers government hand outs to the poor before election time, and uses that support to win re-election. Despite these transparent tactics, he continues to garner the support of those who harbor the delusion that centralized power is essential for a so-called “just socialist society.”

Both President Bush and Senator Kerry have the correct point of view on Chavez’s power-grabbing methods and anti-democratic, anti-individual rights policies. They both called for this referendum and I am sure both men share my dismay at the results. The problem, of course, is that the people of Venezuela did choose this unabashed thug as their leader and have refused this opportunity to recall him. Both Bush and Kerry were correct in calling for this recall, but now that the people of Venezuela have chosen the path of economic centralization and executive control over the courts and the media, there may not be much we can do save Venezuela’s democracy.

The United States Constitution is perhaps the paramount experiment in balancing the interests of the majority with the rights of the minority, while also protecting the checks and balances that allow the long-term survival of government by the people. It is a credit to our institutions and our people that no Hugo Chavez-like thug has been elected here. Moreover, when popular presidents have attempted to erode our checks and balances, the people have risen up against them, making them remember that no one is bigger than our constitutional system (see FDR’s failed court packing scheme).

That is not to say that our institutions and constitution are inviolable. We must be careful to protect our rights and the rights of our neighbors against dangerous demagogues that appeal to our short-term self interest at the expense of the rights of our neighbors and our institutions. A Hugo Chavez is always waiting to take our rights from us - we must be vigilant so that our rights, all of our rights, remain in tact.

Posted by Misha Tseytlin at August 17, 2004 9:38 PM