Archives | 2012 July
If you think that’s high, check out Venezuela’s inflation rate before Chavez came into office. 30% in 1987, and 1988; 84.5% in 1989, 40.7% in 1990, 34.2% in 1991, 31.4% in 1992, 38.1% in 1993, 50.85% in 1994, 59.9% in 1995, 99.9% in 1996, 50% in 1997, 35.8% in 1998, and 23.6% in 1999. Here’s a handy graph of the history of Venezuela’s inflation rate, from 1961 to 2010.
I’m sorry that you can’t cite any historical evidence to support your claim–that removing ‘term limits’ “always ends badly”–but, then again, perhaps you should never have asserted that “Latin America has many historical precedents to show this”! As I explained by reference to an early example of dictatorship in Venezuela’s history, dictators do not typically come to power by winning popular support in free and fair elections; instead, they tend to come to power–against the will of the people–which is why, if elections are not suspended indefinitely under their rule, the vote is almost certainly rigged. So, not only is there no evidence to suggest that the mere existence of presidential term limits could have prevented the rise of dictators (who would ignore them anyway), there is no apparent logical reason why they even should: because how likely is it that a ‘dictator’ could be re-elected for a third consecutive term–by large majorities of the population, in free and fair elections? If President Chavez manages to pull this off, maybe it’s time to consider whether he is not, in fact, a dictator, at all?
It’s not only on foreign policy matters where Obama has proven to be a “total fraud”, according to Chavez, who last December criticized the current U.S. President for “cut[ing] social assistance for home heating oil for the poor”. It’s true, 2012 budget–proposed by President Obama–cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people–slashing the total funding currently authorized by Congress by more than half. Chavez responded to the news of these cuts in the U.S. government’s energy assistance program by moving to increase the amount of support that Venezuela’s CITGO Heating Oil Program already gives to more than 500,000 low-income Americans in 25 U.S. states to help keep them harm every winter, for seven consecutive years. It’s really unbelievable, isn’t it, the contrast and comparison between these two Presidents?
until he removed term limits so he could be president for life. That always ends badly and Latin America has many historical precedents to show this.
What are the relevant “historical precedents” that supposedly show that removing term limits “always ends badly”? Just wondering, because, while Latin America has certainly suffered under numerous dictatorships, I am not aware of a single one that came to power as a result of a lack of presidential “term limits”! Nearly all–typically right-wing, military–dictatorships in Latin America were installed AGAINST the people’s democratic will; under their rule popular elections were either RIGGED, NULLIFIED or SUSPENDED entirely! For example, Venezuela saw ten years of military dictatorship from 1948 to 1958. When the military junta led by Marcos Pérez Jiménez unexpectedly lost the election it held in 1952, it ignored the results and Jiménez was installed as President, where he remained until 1958. In 1957, he held a plebiscite where voters could choose “yes” or “no” to give him another term; Jiménez won, but by all accounts the count was blatantly rigged. In that case, a dictator came to power despite having lost an election (1952). Then he held power by not having elections (1952-7). Then he clung to power by having an election, but rigging it in his favor (1957). What dictator ever came to power by winning election after election, by large majorities, freely and fairly?
he almost certainly funds FARC and other leftist paramilitaries in Colombia
And Saddam Hussein “almost certainly” had WMDS in Iraq, right? What bullshit! If you believe this (I assume you are not being deliberately misleading), it could only be because people keep repeating this lie. This. Ends. Now.
There is zero evidence to support the claim that Chavez “funds FARC and other leftist paramilitaries in Colombia”. The claim was made in 2008 by former Colombian President Uribe–an autocrat in his own right, with his own alleged connections to rightwing paramilitaries in his country–after years of tense relations between Colombia and Venezuela (relations which I tried to summarize in this post from a month ago), but never confirmed/verified.
If Chavez is funding FARC (against whom Colombia has been fighting a decades-long (since 1964) civil war), don’t you find it strange that the current Colombian President, Juan Santos, calls Chavez “my new best friend”?
The claim is “almost certainly” not true. Consider Venezuela’s response to a recent FARC attack in Colombia:
[Colombian President Juan Santos] said in a brief televised appearance that [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez told him he had sent two army brigades to the border. “The brigades have clear instructions to try to find these FARC bandits. And if they do they are going to capture them, and if they resist they will use their weapons,” Santos said. “Those are the instructions that President Chavez gave, to fire on them.”
I don’t know why your friend thinks Chavez is “on his way out”. There isn’t a shred of evidence to support this. Most opinion polls show Chavez leading the opposition candidate by double-digits. >“His power and influence has been weakening over the last 14 years”. How does one measure “power and influence”, exactly? Yes, the opposition coalition has gained seats in the National Assembly. But Chavez continues to enjoy a 62% approval rating! Since Chavez shares power with the opposition, he cannot be called a tyrant. And the opinion polls suggest the Venezuelan people are about to re-elect him. Yet your friend claims that he’s “about to be ousted for being a tyrant and an embarrassment to the people of Venezuela”. by a coup?
Venezuela has held thirteen nationwide elections or referenda since 1998. President Chavez and his supporters have won twelve of them. He has been and continues to be a hugely popular leader–this is just fact. In 2007, for the first time in nine years, Chavez was handed his first electoral defeat when his constitutional referendum (to amend the 1999 Constitution) was narrowly defeated (50.7% to 49.3%). He conceded the loss. In 2010, the mainstream media published numerous articles reporting the results of surveys and opinion polls showing a small decline in the President’s popularity rating from what it was once (at 70 percent in 2005). Since then, Chavez’s popularity rose back up from 43% in Spring 2010 to 59% in Fall 2011. Most recent polling shows his popularity remains unchanged, at 60%. A few mainstream news outlets have reported this surge. This year’s presidential election will be held on October 7. Most opinion polls show Chavez leading the opposition candidate by double-digits. I agree “you wouldn’t know it…” unless you kept an eye out for this data…. Anyway, I just thought it was worth sharing these numbers….
If anyone’s curious, [here's an excellent Chavez campaign video](http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TRV7YIm1sts#!).