Tag | not a dictator
The other day someone from r/Conservative commented “Ask any Venezuelan and they will tell you that he is a dictator…” Obviously the only Venezuelans that those in that subreddit are likely to know well enough to be able to ask are those living in the U.S., or those who live in Venezuela but know perfect English and have the luxury of bullshitting with U.S. conservatives on the internet. Needless to say, they are not exactly representative of the vast majority of Venezuelans.
As I wrote in response, if you were to “ask Venezuelans”–in a statistically representative sample–as professional pollsters have done, you’d find that most will say they support President Chavez.
I wonder if the Chavez government did make tackling local crime a top priority (rather than land reform, housing, food, healthcare, etc.) whether the opposition wouldn’t, in fact, be more inclined to denounce him as a ‘dictator’… After all, to tackle local crime, he would have to develop a highly trained, disciplined, militarized police force. He would likely have to increase the police force’s presence and surveillance in various (rich and poor) neighborhoods; he would need to order the construction of supermax security prisons like in Colombia, Brazil, and the U.S. Like in the countries just mentioned, there would undoubtedly be instances of police brutality that are difficult to control…. Something tells me as much as the opposition is demanding a crackdown on crime, they wouldn’t like it at all.
For example, the international media has already, for years, portrayed the government’s efforts to crack down on crime in the corrupt banking sector and justice system as instances of supposed ‘political persecution’. Read the excellent “Fighting Corruption or Persecuting Political Opponents in Venezuela? A Response to the New York Times”.
Ask any Venezuelan and they will tell you that he is a dictator who has killed hundreds of people.
If you ask Venezuelans, as professional pollsters have done, you’ll find that most of them will tell you the same as they tell pollsters, which is that they support President Chavez’s re-election. I guess they could be lying–who knows. Also, I know several Venezuelans (living in the U.S.) who oppose Chavez, and while I’ve heard them call Chavez a “dictator”, none of them has ever claimed he’s “killed hundreds of people”. As far as I know (as someone who follows Venezuelan news and politics on a regular basis) this is not a claim that is being made by anyone, in the opposition, in Venezuela, or anywhere. Why do some conservatives appear to think that they cannot oppose a politician or political leader without exaggerating their danger, without turning them into a ‘mass-murderer’, etc.?
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?
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?
I find it really obnoxious and slimy how you attempt to sneak in a comparison of Hugo Chavez with Saddam Hussein without coming out directly with (unfounded) allegations of electoral fraud in Venezuela (lest someone challenge you to cite some evidence). But then, why would you be making an allegation of “electoral fraud” when the actual presidential election is still three months away (it’s scheduled for October 7th)?
Did you read the article, or even the headline? Reuters is reporting the results of a new opinion poll conducted by the “respected local pollster Datanalisis”; these are NOT the results of the government-held election!
And the reason why Chavez’s 16-point lead in the poll doesn’t look “mighty suspicious” is because Datanalisis’s poll results are the most reliable, and most likely accurate reflection of Venezuelans’ actual voting preferences available. It isn’t just my opinion. The anti-Chavez blogs are taking these results seriously. Besides, this isn’t the first poll to show a big lead for Chavez; other polls have been reporting similar results for months. There has been some variation, just as you would expect in a democracy, and in a genuinely competitive political race!
Winning something like 57-43 looks like it might be legitimate.
Where did you get “57-43”? The article is reporting 43.6% for Chavez, and 27.7% for Capriles. I don’t think you read the article! But whatever the results of Venezuela’s election turn out to be, why wouldn’t they be legitimate?
People do not fear being tortured and/or executed for criticizing Chavez.
I am not aware of a single incident of anyone ever being tortured and/or executed by the Chavez government. Here’s a fun exercise: compare Chavez’s record to that of either the Bush or Obama administrations!
No one ever points out–I don’t think many people even know–that Chavez granted amnesty to the opposition leaders who briefly overthrew his democratically elected government in 2002 failed coup attempt!
Imagine that a similar failed coup attempt occurred in the United States, what do you think the response would be? Would the conspirators be granted amnesty? Or would they be tried for treason and sentenced to death?
Did you know that capital punishment is not applied in Venezuela? Venezuela was the FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD to abolish the death penalty for all crimes–in 1863! President Chavez has made zero exceptions.
Chavez’s opponents have not been similarly constrained. In 2004, before the amnesty, Danilo Anderson, the state prosecutor leading the investigation against those who hadn’t fled the country was assassinated. Car bomb!
If anything, there is more reason for Venezuelans to fear being killed for supporting Chavez! This also isn’t widely reported, but hundreds of campesinos, peasant leaders and activists, have been murdered by hired gunmen and right wing paramilitaries in the countryside for attempting to implement Chavez’s land reform policies!
There are more examples. But the truth is that, fortunately, political violence is quite low in the country–even though Venezuela does suffer from high levels of violent crime (the reasons are complicated, but I’ll be the first to concede that the Chavez government needs to be doing a lot more to address this issue in the future).
(I made the effort to provide sources. You’re welcome to debate me–rather than simply downvote!)
But during his 24-year run, his net worth has been measured at $1,034,000,000.
First, Chavez has not been running the country for 24 years! he was first elected President in 1998. You’re right, this is not a credible source. Second, “has been measured” by whom? The same person who doesn’t even know for how long Chavez has been President? There isn’t even an attempt to explain how he or she arrives at this number! It would have been better to post nothing at all, than to cite a figure from this source. Take as much time as you need to find a credible source for your claim. There won’t be one.
he is a harsh dictator
If you expect to be taken seriously as a scholar, don’t repeat propaganda points. They’re simply not true.
If Chavez were a “harsh dictator”, how do you expect he would have dealt with his enemies, once he was restored to power by the people, after the 2002 coup attempt in which opposition leaders briefly overthrew his democratically elected government, dissolved the Constitution, National Assembly, and the Supreme Court, etc?
Were there executions of the coup conspirators (as punishment for treason)? No. In fact, Venezuela was the first country in the world to abolish capital punishment for ALL crimes. Chavez has made no exceptions. Yes, this is a “harsh dictator” even though his government has sentenced exactly ZERO people to their deaths!
Meanwhile, it was the state prosecutor, Danilo Anderson, who was leading the investigation into those who hadn’t fled the country, who got assassinated. Car Bomb. Hundreds of pro-Chavez campesinos have also been killed.
You would expect a political leader to respond harshly to violent threats from the opposition. Harsh measures might even be considered justified. But (rhetoric aside) the actual measures that Chavez has taken have been quite tame. Nearly everything that he’s done, he’s done by the book, in accordance with democratic processes (e.g. he and his supporters have won 12 out of 13 nation-wide, free and fair, elections and referenda since 1998).
he HATES the US with a passion
You are describing the caricature of Chavez, not the actual person. Chavez doesn’t “HATE the US” (for the last seven years, Venezuela has been providing subsidized heating oil to low-income people in the U.S., he hates the imperialist foreign policies that the U.S. government has too often supported in that region of the world.
absolutely. it’s remarkable just how wrong popular misconceptions are.
not only is president chavez not a dictator, he has been a relatively tame political leader, considering how nearly everything he’s done has been ‘by the book’ (in accordance with democratic processes, etc. e.g. he and his supporters have won 12 out of 13 nation-wide elections and referenda since 1998). whereas the opposition has been completely unrestrained in seeking to restore elite control!
after the 2002 coup attempt, in which opposition leaders briefly overthrew the democratically elected government, dissolved the constitution, national assembly, and the supreme court, wouldn’t you expect chavez, once restored to power by the people, would take some vengeance against his enemies?
were there executions of the coup conspirators? no. instead, it was the state prosecutor, danilo anderson, leading the investigation into those who hadn’t fled the country, who got assassinated. car bomb.
but chavez has killed other people, right? nope. capital punishment is not applied in venezuela. it was the FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD to abolish the death penalty for ALL CRIMES.. in 1863! there have been no exceptions.
I actually have no clue what the proper way to address crime would be. The government cannot simply send more people to jail, as prisons are already overflowing, and, if it did, it’d be accused of becoming a police state. It’s the same thing if Chavez were to establishe a powerful elite police force, the opposition would say that he is trying to oversee a totalitarian state structure. Are there sensible approaches to the violence that are being ignored?
a lot of the opposition he stifled was openly calling for his assassination,
What? Do you have a source for this? Who openly called for Chavez’s assassination, and how were they “stifled”? I may have missed this news story, because I wasn’t aware Chavez has “stifled” “a lot of the opposition”, or even just the worst of them. In fact, those involved in illegal political action often see no consequences at all.
For example, how did the Chavez government deal with the reactionary business leaders and military officials who briefly ousted Chavez from office in the failed coup attempt of 2002? The punishment for treason is execution, right? But Venezuela abolished the death penalty for all crimes (in 1863), and Chavez has made no exception. Pedro Carmona, the apparent leader of the 2002 coup (who dissolved the Venezuelan constitution, suspended the National Assembly, and eliminated other democratic institutions of government, etc.), faced rebellion and conspiracy charges; but rather than face justice, Carmona “escaped house arrest, fled to Colombia, and later surfaced in Miami, Florida”. Venezuela requested that the U.S. extradite him, so far without any result.
It is the Chavez government that has been “stifled” in its pursuit of justice! For example, Danilo Anderson was the state prosecutor who led the investigation of others implicated in the coup attempt; in November 2004, Danilo was assassinated while driving home when two charges of C4 plastic explosives fixed to his car detoned remotely. In a recent comment about political violence in Venezuela, I cited an ICG report showing that “the vast majority of people killed in political violence since 1999 have been Chavez supporters”.
In addition to Danilo Anderson, many hundreds of Venezuelan peasants have been murdered–by gunmen and right wing paramilitaries, hired by the country’s wealthy landowners–for attempting to implement the Chavez government’s new land reform policies, and hundreds more have been threatened with similar violence. Moreover, despite being popularly elected, President Chavez has been under constant threat of assassination by the CIA and others, and miraculously survived a coup attempt in 2002. There have been countless other assassination attempts made against other Chavez-aligned public officials, campesino and trade union leaders, party members, etc, and many of these have been successful. (I’m essentially building on your comment, not arguing or refuting it.)