CHAVEZ DEMOCRACY: NO CONFISCATION

Stephen Lendman has written a thorough article concerning Hugo Chavez.1

As announced on February 13, however, the CANTV matter is now resolved as the Venezuelan government and US owner Verizon Communications agreed on a deal to settle it. The government will buy out Verizon's 28.51% ownership for just over $572 million to raise its equity stake in the company from 6.5% to 35% in an important step to put the company back under state control, 15 years after it was privatized.

Another nationalization is also moving toward resolution as state-owned oil company PDVSA agreed to buy a majority share in the electric company EDC from US-based AES owning 82% of it. Remaining minority owner shares will remain in private hands. A memorandum of understanding was formalized with AES confirming the agreement, and both sides expressed satisfaction with it putting to rest unfounded fears the Chavez government might expropriate private property forbidden by Venezuela's nationalization laws requiring owners get fair compensation in any state takeover.

That's not confiscation. That's so-called eminent domain with full compensation.

This was done under the participatory, grassroots democracy of the communal councils of Venezuela.

The kleptomaniacs in Washington, New York, London, and the centers of the EU hate Chavez. They hate real democracy. They hate the people.

Dictatorship?

On January 18, the Venezuelan National Assembly (AN) unanimously approved a resolution giving Hugo Chavez his requested "enabling law" authority. It then convened an open to the public session in Caracas' central Bolivar Square January 31 enacting the legislation shouting "long live socialism." The "mother law" will run for 18 months and then expire. It allows President Chavez authority to pass laws by decree in 11 key areas including the structure of state organs, election of local officials, the economy, finance and taxes, banking, transportation, the military and national defense, public safety, and importantly policies related to energy.

Chavez wants the power to accelerate democratic change ahead that's part of his socialist project. Venezuelans voted for it in December, and he promised to deliver. He had it two other times, used it responsibly, never abused his authority, and is the fifth Venezuelan president to use it as permitted by the constitutions of 1961 and in Article 203 in the 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Limits

In these areas, Chavez's critics ignore the limits of his authority:

— He's bound to govern within the limits of the law under the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

— He's restricted to areas authorized by the National Assembly.

— His authority will expire after 18 months.

— He has no power to harm civil or human rights nor would he wish to as a social democrat believing in them for everyone, even for his opponents.

— He'll address only internal areas unrelated to relations with other countries.

— He has no authority to expropriate private property nor can he. Venezuelan law forbids it, and Chavez obeys the law.

— The Venezuelan Constitution empowers the people to rescind all laws by popular referendum if 10% or more registered voters request a referendum vote be held, and for laws passed by decree if only 5% want it.

— The democratically elected National Assembly can change or rescind decree-passed laws by majority vote. Chavez's 18 month authority doesn't override or interfere with citizen, judiciary or National Assembly "check and balancing" of presidential powers.

Chavez versus Bush

In eight years, Chavez impressively transformed a state beholden to capital to one now serving all Venezuelans. He created real participatory democracy at the grass roots advancing the nation toward greater social equity and justice while George Bush neocons went the other way. Venezuela doesn't wage wars or threaten other nations. It engages them in solidarity offering no-strings-attached aid and mutually beneficial trade and other alliances. Chavez respects human rights, has no secret prisons, doesn't practice torture or state-sponsored murder, respects the law and rights of everyone under it, and is a true social democrat freely elected by his people overwhelmingly in elections independently judged free, open and fairly run.

For that, he's demonized as "another Hitler" by the man whose record is polar opposite.

US Freedom?

But the struggle just got harder because of Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill now before the Senate, that, if passed, will require bloggers and others communicating online to 500 or more people to register and report quarterly to Congress just as lobbyists must do. The legislation's on hold, but it follows from Senator John McCain's proposed "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children's Act" that will fine bloggers up to $300,000 for posting offensive statements, photos and videos online [will it be limited to illegal child porn?]. This is thinly veiled hardball to stifle anti-war voices, under the guise of protecting children. They oppose Bush administration plans threatening Hugo Chavez after it's done ousting the Iranian mullahs and country's president.

McCain's bill is a leading Republican's effort to regulate online speech and let the federal government decide what parts are acceptable and what are not with heavy fines imposed on violators. At the same time, it's quite acceptable for government, Pentagon and corporate media propagandists to promote wars and anti-populist programs through the internet or in any other way. If the McCain legislation or Section 220 of S. 1 passes, the only voices heard online will be those supporting government policy while critics Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff calls "dissaffected people living in the United States (developing) radical ideologies and potentially violent skills" will be banned. That includes the web site posting this article.

And if Republican-led bipartisan efforts fail, planned Democrat-led ones are poised to go through in the form of new federal "hate crimes" legislation called The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (aka The Thought Crime Act). Democrats are closely aligned with the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith that's been unsuccessful getting this type law through a Republican-controlled Congress for eight years. It now has a friendly Democrat-led one that never votes against bills outlawing hate crimes. This one supposedly criminalizes hate talk against gays, minorities and other often-persecuted groups, but it's really about banning speech government opposes (including online) making it punishable by heavy fines, imprisonment or both.

They want their secular way to deny the freedom of real Christians to preach that homosexuality is sin curable by the transformative spirit of God.


FOOTNOTES:

1 Stephen Lendman. "Hugo Chavez's Social Democratic Agenda." ICH. February 23, 2007. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17158.htm. (last accessed: Saturday, February 24, 2007). Return to text body.

Tom Usher

About Tom Usher

Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.