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 The Chavez Thread - he's worth it

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PostSubject: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:05 pm

I don't mean to harp on endlessly about Chavez but it seems he's going to try to stay in power till 2021. I know Castro is his hero but isn't this taking things a bit far?

BBC - Chavez renews reelection ambition

I have a problem with anyone staying in power for too long. No matter who that person is or what his politics are. I know many posters here are fond of the Pinkshirt and are generally reliable when it comes to balanced debate. Can someone explain to me why his ambition to stay in power is a good thing?
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:22 pm

Chavez can act the buffoon, occasionally comes out with absurd nonsense (once bordering on the anti-Semitic, a virulent strain exists in South America), seems intent on antagonising the Americans, allies himself with dodgy regimes quite freely, and is over-dependent on oil to pursue his vision. There are a number of grounds to be critical of Chavez.

BUT. He has transformed health and education in the country, created unprecedented opportunity for the poor and the barrio slum-dwellers, and has so far accepted democratic setbacks, such as the indefinite re-election referendum and the recent regional election results. The point is that he is not proposing being President until 2021, only the right to stand for election for President until then That's no different from our Taoiseach, the British PM, or several other Executive heads of governments in the democratic world. And he has slightly stronger grounds for running the referendum again (the original poll was a bundle of issues together) than we do for re-running Lisbon. Also, consider the quite nasty, authoritarian and extremely right-wing alternative, the coup-mongers. Chavez is a beacon of democracy in comparison.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:44 pm

If Chavez leaves in 2012 I'll be the first to say he was the best president Venezuela ever had. But I hear that Mugabe used to be the darling of the West once and look at how that turned out.

I was pleasantly surprised at his fair-minded response to losing the referendum but if memory serves his tone soon changed. As for nasty opposition types, I think his biggest opposition comes from students. Anyway, cognitive dissonance and this 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' approach doesn't justify his ambitions to me. Is there no one who could just take over after him, is there no one competant in his administration?
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:50 pm

905 wrote:
If Chavez leaves in 2012 I'll be the first to say he was the best president Venezuela ever had. But I hear that Mugabe used to be the darling of the West once and look at how that turned out.

I was pleasantly surprised at his fair-minded response to losing the referendum but if memory serves his tone soon changed. As for nasty opposition types, I think his biggest opposition comes from students. Anyway, cognitive dissonance and this 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' approach doesn't justify his ambitions to me. Is there no one who could just take over after him, is there no one competant in his administration?

It depends which students, because I certainly know some, including a very good friend of mine from Caracas, who support him fully, though not blind to his shortcomings. I agree with you about the 'enemy of my enemy' thing in principle, but the reality is that Venezuelan politics is very polarized, and the only major alternative on offer is the return to the bad old days. I agree that this is unfortunate, as there are reasonable and justifiable positions out there in opposition to both Chavez and the old guard, I have heard some academics speak in such a way and they came across as the very rock of common sense. Until they have more sway in Venezuelan politics, however, it really is a choice between Chavez and the troglodyte Right.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:31 pm

toxic avenger wrote:
905 wrote:
If Chavez leaves in 2012 I'll be the first to say he was the best president Venezuela ever had. But I hear that Mugabe used to be the darling of the West once and look at how that turned out.

I was pleasantly surprised at his fair-minded response to losing the referendum but if memory serves his tone soon changed. As for nasty opposition types, I think his biggest opposition comes from students. Anyway, cognitive dissonance and this 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' approach doesn't justify his ambitions to me. Is there no one who could just take over after him, is there no one competant in his administration?

It depends which students, because I certainly know some, including a very good friend of mine from Caracas, who support him fully, though not blind to his shortcomings. I agree with you about the 'enemy of my enemy' thing in principle, but the reality is that Venezuelan politics is very polarized, and the only major alternative on offer is the return to the bad old days. I agree that this is unfortunate, as there are reasonable and justifiable positions out there in opposition to both Chavez and the old guard, I have heard some academics speak in such a way and they came across as the very rock of common sense. Until they have more sway in Venezuelan politics, however, it really is a choice between Chavez and the troglodyte Right.

If you have'nt come across this site before, it's very informative about Venezuela - worth putting on your favourites: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Dec 02, 2008 12:21 am

I'll take Chavez over some old bastard anyday, but I can't see why there's no other choice. Is there no one in his party that can take over from him?
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:57 pm

Quote :
21/01/2009 - 09:31:37
Police in Venezuela used tear gas, plastic bullets and a water cannon to break up a protest by university students against President Hugo Chavez’s attempt to eliminate term-of-office limits.

Officers in riot gear scattered more than 2,000 students after they set out from a Caracas plaza to demonstrate against a proposed constitutional amendment that would lift term limits for all elected officials, including Mr Chavez.

The president recently ordered authorities to break up student protests if they turned violent but student leader Juan Mejia said: “We didn’t provoke the police. We’ve been victims of violence just as Chavez ordered.”

A strong man in uniform is always a strong man in uniform. 905, perhaps time to change your avatar again...
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:01 pm

905 wrote:
I don't mean to harp on endlessly about Chavez but it seems he's going to try to stay in power till 2021. I know Castro is his hero but isn't this taking things a bit far?

BBC - Chavez renews reelection ambition

I have a problem with anyone staying in power for too long. No matter who that person is or what his politics are. I know many posters here are fond of the Pinkshirt and are generally reliable when it comes to balanced debate. Can someone explain to me why his ambition to stay in power is a good thing?



Well FDR stayed in power for a while. We don't have term limits here either for our Taoiseach, or the UK's Prime Minister, or eh, most European nations come to think of it!

Nothing to get yer nickers in a twist either way then 905, old boy Smile


Although, ideally the situation wouldn't be as described above "it really is a choice between Chavez and the troglodyte Right."

Despite this moving of the term limit into the what-is-the-norm-for-other-democracies situation, I think Chavez's willingness to create power structures/councils from below which central government cannot control, and the most unusual decision to introduce recall referenda etc means there's even less reason to worry imho.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:10 pm

Pax wrote:
905 wrote:
I don't mean to harp on endlessly about Chavez but it seems he's going to try to stay in power till 2021. I know Castro is his hero but isn't this taking things a bit far?

BBC - Chavez renews reelection ambition

I have a problem with anyone staying in power for too long. No matter who that person is or what his politics are. I know many posters here are fond of the Pinkshirt and are generally reliable when it comes to balanced debate. Can someone explain to me why his ambition to stay in power is a good thing?

Well FDR stayed in power for a while. We don't have term limits here either for our Taoiseach, or the UK's Prime Minister, or eh, most European nations come to think of it!

Nothing to get yer nickers in a twist either way then 905, old boy Smile

Although, ideally the situation wouldn't be as described above "it really is a choice between Chavez and the troglodyte Right."

Despite this moving of the term limit into the what-is-the-norm-for-other-democracies situation, I think Chavez's willingness to create power structures/councils from below which central government cannot control, and the most unusual decision to introduce recall referenda etc means there's even less reason to worry imho.

He certainly is better than the people who have tried to oust him. The populist left leaders of Latin America, and even more so the people who have supported them on the ground, have been pretty well an inspiration in the otherwise black days of the Bush administration. At the end of the day though, does Chavez have a perspective and programme that can maintain the benefits that the rural and urban poor have got under his governance? Oil prices are down and the similar economic pressures we're feeling may threaten his electoral popularity. Everyone may need to dig in again across Latin America if all the gains are not to be rolled back.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:02 pm

He's done it, the referendum yesterday has gone in his favour, as polls suggested it might.
BBC - Chavez wins chance of fresh term

The opposition won't be contesting his win. But they're pretty pissed off at what they argue is the most biased vote of recent years, with Chavez using state resources to promote his message and isolate the opposition. The vote itself was quite fair we're told.

Now he just has to win some elections.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:50 pm

In fairness the last result was pretty much a sham when you consider the millions used by the US, it's local puppets, the CIA/National Endowment for Democracy (NED) etc to swing the vote.

The Venezuelan media is vociferously anti-Chavez in a FOX news style way (only worse). They frequently portray Chavez as a monkey and call him a black, indian nigger. Chavez has turned this racism around, is proud of his heritage and is supported by the majority indigenous population.

Meanwhile the Chavistas are trying to democratise the media, from below.


Some interesting analysis in the article below.

It is again instructive the difference in reportage between, say favoured allies like Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and Chavez. Uribe did much the same as Chavez in 2005 and it raised not an eye amongst the Western state and corporate media.

Venezuela's Referendum: Media's Double Standards


http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20572

Quote :

With Sunday's Venezuelan referendum on term limits, we can expect to hear a lot about Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's "plan to become president for life" and its reflection on "Venezuela's battered democracy"--as the New York Times editors put it around the time of Venezuela's last (failed) term limits referendum.


But when Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's efforts to change a constitutional prohibition barring a president from serving more than one term succeeded in 2005, the U.S. media took little notice, and Uribe's reputation as the U.S.'s favorite 'democrat' in the region remained intact.


While not identical, the two examples have some notable parallels. In Colombia, the amendment on term limits that Congress voted on in 2004, and the Supreme court upheld the following year, allowed Uribe to seek a second term in office, paving the way for his reelection. Uribe is currently pushing to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term. In Venezuela, Chavez is seeking constitutional changes that would eliminate term limits altogether. The change in Colombia's term limits law was a big story in Colombia, in good part because the Colombian courts have sentenced the congress member who cast the deciding 2004 vote on the amendment to almost four years under house-arrest for taking bribes from Uribe aides (he knew nothing, of course) in exchange for her vote. And though Uribe supporters are collecting signatures to get him on the ballot for 2010 elections, the bribery affair has caused Colombian courts to raise questions about Uribe's eligibility.

Yet Uribe's scandal-ridden term limits efforts were treated as far less newsworthy by U.S. editors than the Venezuelan government's moves to put the question of term limits to the popular ballot. A search of "Álvaro Uribe and "term limits" in the Nexis database of U.S. newspapers and wires turns up 60 articles, in contrast to 1003 articles about Chávez and term limits. A spot check reveals that even the articles mentioning Uribe and "term limits" were often about Chávez's efforts to lift term limits, not Uribe's maneuvers.


Similarly, 286 articles mentioned both Chávez and "president for life," while only 29 articles mention Uribe and that epithet--but virtually all of those 29 were again referring to Chávez's perceived power grabs, not Uribe's. One Associated Press story did compare Uribe to Chávez, but didn't quite apply the term to Uribe: "The wonkish, diminutive but tirelessly tenacious politician [Uribe], who turned 56 on Friday, has been cagey on that score. Those who oppose the idea [of Uribe running again] say it would put him in league with his continental rival, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who has been widely branded autocratic for doing his utmost to try to stay president for life.")

This discrepancy reinforces the findings of a recent FAIR study, "Human Rights Coverage Serving Washington's Needs," which found that editors at major U.S. papers portray Colombia as a safer haven for human rights and democracy than Venezuela, despite Colombia's vastly more dismal record.


It would seem the role of U.S. reporting and opinion on Venezuela (and Colombia) is less about informing the public about real threats to democracy and human rights in Latin America than it is about serving as a propaganda arm of U.S. foreign policy. One would be wise to remember this when reading about Venezuela's referendum this weekend.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:00 am

The article below, by George Ciccariello-Maher is a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at UC Berkeley) is also good.

It has a brief history of term limits, focuses on the amusing hypocrisy of the NYT and bloomberg and again looks at Uribe.
Venezuela's Term Limits


More Hypocrisy From the New York Times



http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20579

Quote :
The story is a familiar one. Amid the collapse of two-party dominance, an independent leader rises to power. In an effort to calm frazzled nerves, he insists he will respect the rule of law and the will of the voters by maintaining the peaceful transfer of power at the end of his legally-established term. "There's no organization that I know that would put somebody in charge for a long period of time," he insists, "you always want turnover and change." But in power for nearly eight years, having established a fervent support base and concentrated power in his own hands, our fair leader no longer feels the need to comfort his opponents, and his discourse radicalizes as his view of term limits shifts. Dismissing his opposition as rigid "dogmatists," the leader now insists on the need to change course flexibly to meet circumstances. True and sustained change, he argues, requires the continuity of his successful leadership.

Unsurprisingly, his opponents fiercely oppose the move as dangerous: "It shows a fundamental contempt for the democratic process," one maintains, "and it's changing the rules to benefit yourself directly." Ironically, it was this very same argument that the leader himself had made five years prior, when vetoing efforts to loosen term limits. Not without controversy, then, was the decision of the region's largest newspaper--aligned politically with the leader--to wade into these conflictive waters with the following declaration:

The bedrock of... democracy is the voters' right to choose. Though well intentioned... the term limits law severely limits that right, which is why this page has opposed term limits from the outset... Term limits are seductive, promising relief from mediocre, self-perpetuating incumbents and gridlocked legislatures. They are also profoundly undemocratic, arbitrarily denying voters the ability to choose between good politicians and bad.

While the paper had previously insisted that any change to term limits come through popular referendum, it now reverses this view, taking the position that for reasons of political expediency, a simple vote in the small executive council will do.

Of which banana republic are we speaking, where thinly-veiled authoritarianism threatens democratic checks and balances, and weak-kneed apologists parade about under the banner of free press? Why, the place is none other than New York City, the leader none other than Michael Bloomberg, and the newspaper none other than the New York Times. Patience: we haven't even gotten to the hypocrisy part yet.

"Hugo Chávez's Choice"

Term limits have a long history, dating from ancient Greece and Rome and Aristotle's concept of "ruling and being ruled in turn." With a trademark selectiveness (see, e.g., Senate Report 104-158), those upholding the sanctity of this standard in U.S. politics do so with no mention of the other elements Aristotle would associate with democracy, most obviously the filling of all positions by random lot (except for generals, or strategoi, who in an intriguing inversion of our own system, were to be elected). And nor is there much mention of those countries in the wealthy world which see no need for such limitations, or those celebrated leaders who have accomplished purportedly historic tasks without such fetters: Tony Blair served for 10 years, Margaret Thatcher for 11. Franklin D. Roosevelt, consistently ranked among the greatest U.S. presidents served for 12, and would have served for 16 had he survived. And this is not to mention the unlimited terms available to U.S. senators and representatives.

In fact, the North American obsession with term limits as political cure-all is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating largely to the 1990s and the cynical populism of House Republicans, who raised the mantle of term limits as a silver bullet against corruption. Some even seem impervious to this fervent faith: most notably, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), who recently proposed lifting presidential term limits in the aftermath of Barack Obama's election. Obama himself would add, "I'm generally not in favor of term limits... I believe in one form of term limits. They're called elections." Given all this, then, we might expect Obama, but also Mayor Bloomberg and the editorial team at the New York Times to wholeheartedly embrace efforts at rolling back such undemocratic limitations worldwide. And who knows? Were it possible to exclude the most popular democratically-elected leader in the Western Hemisphere, they might.

But for anyone familiar with past Times coverage of Venezuela (including the paper's now-notorious celebration of Chávez's 2002 overthrow at the hands of an authoritarian group of right-wing leaders), it would be of little surprise to know that the paper breathed a sigh of relief when "Venezuela's voters wisely blocked his plans for indefinite re-election" in 2007. And facing what the Times incorrectly considered a defeat in recent local elections, the paper's tone turned simultaneously celebratory and stern:

The lesson from Sunday's defeat — less than a year after voters rejected his plan for a power-grabbing constitutional reform — is that Venezuelans don't want to give Mr. Chávez even more power. He should heed the message... He should abandon for good his push to change the Constitution so that he can run for a third term in 2013. Venezuelans deserve the chance to choose a competent government.

But this is where it gets interesting for the elephant in the room named Colombia.

"Mr. Uribe's Choice"

Now the New York Times has never been bashful about the crush it has on this tale of hypocrisy's third character: the narco-terrorist president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe. Uribe is currently engaged in an effort to change the Colombian constitution for a second time to allow his own re-election, doing so not through popular plebiscite, but rather indirect legislative vote. But not that you would know this from reading the press: a recent report by FAIR shows that press coverage of Colombia and Venezuela represent an inverted mirror-image of reality, exaggerating abuses in the latter while downplaying them in the former and condemning re-election in one while ignoring it in the other. And so one might expect the paper to champion the diminutive Colombian strongman's own efforts to eliminate term limits for himself, doing so, as in New York, through indirect vote in the legislature rather than the popular referendum Chávez has pursued. But rather than take the more openly-hypocritical route of supporting Uribe's bid for unlimited re-election, the Times has elected a more subtle, if no less hypocritical path.
.........
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:59 am

Many interesting points Pax, I hadn't known at all about Uribe. Regarding the president-for-life stuff, has he publicly announced that he intends to run till 2021 like Chavez? I think there's a difference there, but the point about the media bias still stands.

If you defend Chavez then you defend Uribe (whatever about his manner of going about the extensions). In my view neither should be trying to stay in power.

We're all familiar with the bias towards Venezuela exhibited in the US (a lot of accusations of anti-Semitism at the moment), and with bias in Venezuela's own private media. Like Fox, it's their prerogative, journalistic ethics notwithstanding. But it's the bias in the state media that has drawn attention this time round, they have the taxpayer to answer to. Human Rights Watch had a report about this a while ago, but much criticised as I recall.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:55 am

905 wrote:
Many interesting points Pax, I hadn't known at all about Uribe. Regarding the president-for-life stuff, has he publicly announced that he intends to run till 2021 like Chavez? I think there's a difference there, but the point about the media bias still stands.

If you defend Chavez then you defend Uribe (whatever about his manner of going about the extensions). In my view neither should be trying to stay in power.

Oh not at all. As I highlighted in bold above Uribe is doing it in a different manner to Chavez, along with a smattering of corruption.

Quote :
"Mr. Uribe's Choice"

Now the New York Times
has never been bashful about the crush it has on this tale of
hypocrisy's third character: the narco-terrorist president of Colombia,
Alvaro Uribe. Uribe is currently engaged in an effort to change the
Colombian constitution for a second time to allow his own re-election, doing so not through popular plebiscite, but rather indirect legislative vote.
But not that you would know this from reading the press: a

As regards "trying to stay in power." I'm not sure what you mean by that. If a politician is elected then he is in power. If that's ok over several terms here then why is it bad in Venezuela?

905 wrote:

We're all familiar with the bias towards Venezuela exhibited in the US (a lot of accusations of anti-Semitism at the moment), and with bias in Venezuela's own private media. Like Fox, it's their prerogative, journalistic ethics notwithstanding. But it's the bias in the state media that has drawn attention this time round, they have the taxpayer to answer to. Human Rights Watch had a report about this a while ago, but much criticised as I recall.

HRW are very much biased as regards Latin America as I've pointed out on another Chavez thread. I mentioned the NED on that thread and HRW I believe.
And as I said above what is most interesting in Latin America is that Chavez is creating public autonomous media groups (i.e. not just a Venezuelan RTE or BBC) which can very easily turn against him. This trend can be seen by Chavez's 2 year recall referendum.

Can you imagine our government bringing in a recall referendum like that? You know, our government that so tightly controls RTE and has private tet-a-tets with Sir Tony O'Reilly prior and after elections.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:41 pm

Reading the posts following on from the zmag quotation, I'm struck again very forcefully by the power of the internet, which has breached the information dominance and control of the privately-owned and state mass media.

After the Vietnam war, in which images and opinion had flooded onto television screens virtually unimpeded, lessons were learned by governments and control of information became a state priority. In particular, coverage of wars was tightly managed, and some conflicts were virtually invisible outside the conflict zone. Part of this management has seen a trend in which journalists have been as likely to be killed in warzones than members of the armed forces.

The internet is flooding around, through, above and under the barriers erected. It has got to the stage now in which several things are happening as a response to the mass leakage. In Gaza, because the Israelis kept foreign journalists out, we were able to hear reports by Palestinians direct. Satellite tv, which lets us see reporting from all over the globe, is adding to the flood of new information. Yesterday, we were able to see on video the boiling anger of the car workers at Cowley who were give one hours notice to quit, from a phone camera.

One response to this democratisation of communications is that the mass media are trying to occupy the internet - tv channels now run regular "blog of the day" items and have their own websites. Monitoring of the internet is ongoing, although no state has the resources to read all those posts. There have been numerous legal moves to try to bring the internet increasingly under the same sort of editorial regimes that apply to newsprint. There have been various unaccountable internet outages and cutting of undersea cables, that may or may not be signs of readiness to damage or pull the net at critical times.

To me, it's a thing of wonder, this access to mass communication and news, and a thing for celebration. cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:12 pm

I like Chavez but there are some aspects of a personality cult emerging which unsettle me. A friend told me last night that he saw leaflets advertising 10 reasons to vote for Chavez; the first was "Because Chavez loves you", and the second was "Because Chavez can do no harm".
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:51 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
I like Chavez but there are some aspects of a personality cult emerging which unsettle me. A friend told me last night that he saw leaflets advertising 10 reasons to vote for Chavez; the first was "Because Chavez loves you", and the second was "Because Chavez can do no harm".

I agree its not healthy. He is the best they have for the moment. Not that far from Castro?

Military guys who rest on the support of the poor.

"Hold tightly to the hand of nurse for fear of findng something worse" - an Uribe, or Pinochet for example: that would put the fear of god into you.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:05 pm

cactus flower wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:
I like Chavez but there are some aspects of a personality cult emerging which unsettle me. A friend told me last night that he saw leaflets advertising 10 reasons to vote for Chavez; the first was "Because Chavez loves you", and the second was "Because Chavez can do no harm".

I agree its not healthy. He is the best they have for the moment. Not that far from Castro
This is my point, they'll never have anyone better if they think they can just run with him till he keels over.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:17 pm

I watched wee snippets of a program about the Chavez regime. Some of the economic programs seems well intentioned but fairly wastefull. The cult of personality I just find repugnant.

As a somewhat socialist, I can't understand, for the life of me, why most socialists believe that business enterprises are inherently wicked. Yes, there are unscrupulous business people, as their are unscrupulous people in every walk of life. We have the legal means to curtail excess, although the West seems loathe to curtail any excess of business enterprises these days. Until socialists understand that business activity via companies and industries is the only economic game in town, they will continue to sink in the morass of their own muddy analysis and economic initiatives.

Most of all, I think the open ended ability of one politician or leader to stay beyond a given term limit is inherently unstable. If one's ideas and policies are not valuable and seen to be effective all the political power in the world won't change the outcome as we've see in Zimbabwe.

Mind you, bar a bit of scandle, our chosen leader would have been in power for possibly 15 years. Chavez, who still has to be elected to future terms, is doing nothing different than we already do in Ireland.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:38 pm

rockyracoon wrote:
As a somewhat socialist, I can't understand, for the life of me, why most socialists believe that business enterprises are inherently wicked. Yes, there are unscrupulous business people, as their are unscrupulous people in every walk of life. We have the legal means to curtail excess, although the West seems loathe to curtail any excess of business enterprises these days. Until socialists understand that business activity via companies and industries is the only economic game in town, they will continue to sink in the morass of their own muddy analysis and economic initiatives.
Please let's not get into the business of confusing the different kinds of socialist. The reason you as a "socialist" cannot understand most socialists is because you are not a socialist but a social democrat. There is precedent for referring to social democracy as socialism, of course, but it achieves nothing. The socialists you refer to, the ones who think all private business enterprises are "wicked", are not as similar to you as you might think. It is not simply the danger of certain unscrupulous businessmen crossing the line of morality that spooks them, although that's part of it. It is the fact (or falsehood?) that all private enterprise is exploitation to an extent. Workers pooling their wages cannot collectively buy what they collectively create. Thus they are being exploited and having their labour stolen. The difference between the haves and the have-nots is staggering and all-important in society, and capitalism perpetuates that destructive circle; this is not a potential, but a fundamental and inherent fault of capitalism.

There's more to it than that, and Hermes or the likes could probably explain it a bit better than I could. But what I hope I have shown is that there is a world of difference between "somewhat socialists" and actual socialists.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:24 pm

Thanks for your particular explanation of what a socialist is evercloserunion. I'm well up on the textbook explanations of socialism and its variants. As as "somewhat" socialist, I actually have temerity to believe that textbook socialism and its variants have failed to understand the nature of the socialist and more importantly of how humans interact with each other - no more so than in the field of economics. The textbook explanations of dialetical materialism and so forth just don't cut the mustard. They couldn't be farther from the everyday experiences of workers, including business owners most who actually work by the way, and how we conduct our daily lives and what expectations we have for the future.

On an a priori basis, people are not created equal. One's talents vary as does one's ambitions. This will inevtiably create unequal outcomes in economics as it will in other areas of life. As a "somewhat" socialist I'm more concerned about how we balance out the need for a given individual's need to advance themselves economically against the vast majority who are happy to accept less responsibility and risk taking in order to pursue other activities like rearing a family, art, or whatever. Not an easy task, in and of itself, and made almost impossible given the current economic philosophy adopted in the West and beyond, but made even more difficult by the outdated thoughts and politicies held as orthodox polcies by many so-called socialists.

We don't live in a star trek world. Perfection is an ideal not a practical method of making everyone's life a bit more meaningful and fulfulling.

As a believer in a social ideal, I'll stick with my current sobriquet until I can find better. I'll certainly never let another socialist dictate what I should call myself - no more than I'd let a British govt dictate my national identity and political outlook.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:06 pm

Pax wrote:
905 wrote:
Many interesting points Pax, I hadn't known at all about Uribe. Regarding the president-for-life stuff, has he publicly announced that he intends to run till 2021 like Chavez? I think there's a difference there, but the point about the media bias still stands.

If you defend Chavez then you defend Uribe (whatever about his manner of going about the extensions). In my view neither should be trying to stay in power.

Oh not at all. As I highlighted in bold above Uribe is doing it in a different manner to Chavez, along with a smattering of corruption.

As regards
"trying to stay in power." I'm not sure what you mean by that. If a politician is elected then he is in power. If that's ok over several terms here then why is it bad in Venezuela?
Or Colombia? I think it is bad anywhere. I'd hardly have called Bertie's or Blair's third term a great success. Putin would be popularly elected but it's hardly done Russia any favours. Thatcher was cited as another shining example in one of your posts.

Pax wrote:
905 wrote:

We're all familiar with the bias towards Venezuela exhibited in the US (a lot of accusations of anti-Semitism at the moment), and with bias in Venezuela's own private media. Like Fox, it's their prerogative, journalistic ethics notwithstanding. But it's the bias in the state media that has drawn attention this time round, they have the taxpayer to answer to. Human Rights Watch had a report about this a while ago, but much criticised as I recall.

HRW are very much biased as regards Latin America as I've pointed out on another Chavez thread. I mentioned the NED on that thread and HRW I believe.
And as I said above what is most interesting in
Latin America is that Chavez is creating public autonomous media groups (i.e. not just a Venezuelan RTE or BBC) which can very easily turn against him. This trend can be seen by Chavez's 2 year recall referendum.

Can you imagine our government bringing in a recall referendum like that? You know, our government that so tightly controls RTE and has private tet-a-tets with Sir Tony O'Reilly prior and after elections.
Are you confusing FF with the government? The recall referendum does sound good. By referring to RTÉ do you mean that they are worse then the Venezuelans at state-media bias? Even the critics of the HRW report were happy to report that Venezuela's state-media was pro-government, balancing as it does the anti-government media. I'd have thought an impartial media would be better. Speaking of the HRW, the report you cited earlier on FAIR’s analysis of media portrayals of Venezuela and Colombia had no problem citing HRW. I don't think they would agree with you on the how biased the HRW are. The FAIR report doesn't even include the latest HRW report on Colombia, which is not positive.
Quote :
The principal specialist on Colombia for the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch (HRW), Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, told Congress (4/23/07), “Colombia presents the worst human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere.” She also noted that government-linked paramilitary groups are largely responsible for Colombia’s grim status.

Though Colombia is not the chaotic state it was in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, and violence and repression have not been uniform, HRW’s Americas director José Miguel Vivanco has called Colombia’s current human rights situation “appalling” (Human Rights Watch, 1/22/08).




HRW has published numerous reports in the past on the state of human rights in Venezuela. In a 230-page retrospective titled “A Decade Under Chávez” (9/18/08),* HRW attempted to assess the Venezuelan government’s impact on vital democratic institutions—“the courts, the media, organized labor and civil society”—during the Chávez presidency. The report judged Chávez on two main fronts—political discrimination and limits on freedom of expression and association.

Among the worst charges HRW listed against the Venezuelan government: practicing political intimidation by, among other things, blacklisting Chávez opponents from government jobs; packing the country’s supreme court with allies; denying a license renewal to a popular television station for political reasons; and restricting the public’s access to official information by taking, on average, 38 days, “almost twice the legal maximum,” to reply to journalists’ requests for information.

Some of these are serious matters, worthy of press attention. But they do not compare to the situation in
Colombia; Venezuelan journalists, trade union activists and innocent civilians do not live in fear of government-linked death squads.

When all is said and done, though, Vivanco described Venezuela as a “relatively open society” (New York Times, 9/19/08), and HRW’s report pointed out that, excluding the court-packing charge, “the most dramatic setback” to Venezuelan democracy was the 2002 coup that temporarily removed Chávez from office—an action cheered by both the White House and many U.S. newspaper editors (L.A. Times, 4/17/02; New York Times, 4/13/02; Chicago Tribune, 4/14/02). http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3699


As for public autonomous media groups, I don’t remember you writing about them. I found something about them on the interweb.
Quote :
The collaborators and members that are part of Aporea.org read like a cross section of the type of Venezuelans most attracted to community media in general: “members of popular, cultural and community work groups of the Caracas neighborhoods, communicators from the Community Radio stations, union activists from the Bolivarian Workers Force, members of neighborhood organizations and of Bolivarian Circles, people from the popular and progressive networks that live in the Venezuelan capital,” as Aporrea’s most involved activists told to Gomez. As a result of these inclinations, it is fair to say that community media is not a resource to those who would identify themselves with the opposition to the government. Instead, however, it has opened up a huge channel to voice the viewpoints of sectors of the Venezuelan society that simply do not have a significant presence in the mainstream media. http://reclaimthemedia.org/communications_rights/what_is_the_venezuelan_news_me=6087
They don’t sound very likely to me to be easily turned against him. And more power to them. But they represent another (debatable whether big or small) chunk of pro-Chavez media that is ignored as often as not when discussing the crushing opposition that Chavez faces in the media.
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:32 am

-Inflation at 31% and rising
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=a8simsDxX7s0&refer=latin_america

-Food prices doubling
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7558435.stm


-15,000 murders last year (increased two and a half times since Chavez took power) making Venezuela one of the world's most violent countries
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/12/31/Venezuela.murder.capital/index.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/venezuela/3184293/Venezuelas-murder-rates-surpass-Colombias-under-Hugo-Chavez.html

-Lack of respect for Orivate Property causing housing shortages, driving the cost of rented accomodation though the roof
http://www.caracaschronicles.com/2006/01/world-social-forum-files-housing_13.html

-Falling oil prices (driven down by the very same economy which is hugely dependent on it) almost halved in one year
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7694757.stm
http://www.cfr.org/publication/12089/
http://uk.reuters.com/article/marketsNewsUS/idUKN2452867620081024?rpc=401&

-Raided over a quarter of the country's Central Bank reserves (€12bn of $42bm) to continue Public sector pay (public sector wage bill growing owing to nationalisation of industry and poor management - see PDVSA)
http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?feed=AP&date=20090116&id=9523274
http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2009/01/16/2321991-fitch-ratings-reserve-transfer-weakens-venezuela

-A contracting economy (expected to fall 2-2.5% this year)

-General price rises of 40%
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&refer=latin_America&sid=aDB8ojPrS37Y (this is August, the 40% figure was proposed by an economist friend, as was the figure above)

-Increasing violence towards ethnic and political groups, the vandalisation of Caracas's largest Synagogue (where a database if the Jewish community in the city was stolen) and an attack the capital's Ateneo de Caracas cultural centre by armed Cahvista's who threw teargas and fired shots. It was vandalised and a number of people were held a gunpoint. This was lead by Lina Ron of Chaves's referendum campaign (Nobody was arrested and then the "Government" told the cultural centre to leave the state owned building they had occupied for the last 20 or more years.
http://www.demdigest.net/blog/1540/venezuela-violence-socio-economic-decay-mark-10-years-of-chavezs-rule.html
http://venezuela101.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html


Sounds like paradise.


Last edited by cookiemonster on Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:35 am

Any sources for any of that, Cookiemonster ?
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PostSubject: Re: The Chavez Thread - he's worth it   Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:36 am

cactus flower wrote:
Any sources for any of that, Cookiemonster ?

My brain.
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