The United States government said on 15 December that President Hugo Chavez is “subverting the will of the Venezuelan people” by demanding special powers to rule by decree for one year.
US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in Washington, DC that Chavez “seems to be finding new and creative ways to justify autocratic powers.”
New and creative?
This is the fourth time since 1999 that Chavez has been granted special powers to enact laws by presidential decree.
Chavez is repeating a tried and true scam that he has used successfully three times previously since 1999 to do whatever he pleases without incurring any serious or sustained protests from the US or anyone else.
What’s different now?
These new special powers have been granted to Chavez by a lame duck National Assembly that has only days left in its five-year session.
A new National Assembly was elected on 26 September 2010, but does not begin its session until January 2011.
Critics argue that the lame duck National assembly doesn’t have the constitutional authority to give Chavez special powers beyond the end of the current legislature’s session.
But constitutional technicalities don’t bother Chavez at all.
Chavez has most of the OAS in his pocket, with the notable exception of the CIDH. The Unasur countries – headed by Brazil – are complete hypocrites when it comes to taking a real stand for democracy.
In strategic and tactical terms, the outcome of the 26 September National Assembly elections is of no consequence whatsoever to Chavez.
The lame duck assembly is rushing to approve a slew of new laws that legally consolidate Venezuela’s transformation into a repressive Cuban-style dictatorship backed by corrupt generals, drug traffickers and other rogue states.
What can the democratic opposition do to counter this coup by Chavez?
Diego Arria, among others, has urged the opposition legislators elected to the new National Assembly to invoke an Article 350; i.e. everything that Chavez and the lame duck assembly are doing now is unconstitutional and illegal.
However, the oppo is powerless and cannot do anything to stop Chavez.
The oppo is the minority in the new assembly, and any attempts by oppo legislators to block Chavez from consolidating his gangster regime will be stopped cold by the numerically superior PSUV block.
Forget about legal challenges.
Chavez ensured that a new Supreme Court was handpicked and sworn in before the lame duck National Assembly granted him the special powers.
The new “supremos” certainly will rule against anyone who tries to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the special powers.
The lame duck National Assembly also has approved legislation that expands State controls over all forms of communications media, including the Internet.
The regime’s aim is to silence and repress anyone who dissents or has opinions critical of the regime, including independent news organizations, bloggers and users of social media like Twitter.
Chavez will use these special powers to complete his horrific Bolivarian masterpiece.
Who or what will stop Chavez from enacting by decree the constitutional reforms that were rejected by a majority of voters three years ago?
By the time Chavez is done and his special powers expire at the end of 2011, it may not matter anymore that presidential elections are officially scheduled for December 2012.
Mr. Crowley’s statement that Chavez is “subverting” the will of a majority of the Venezuelan people doesn’t even come close to addressing the monstrous tragedy that is escalating in Venezuela.
Chances of a conciliatory, peaceful democratic outcome are nil, I think.
Chavez and his gangsters already have driven Venezuela beyond the point where peaceful and democratic outcomes are still remotely possible.
Arria and other foes of the Bolivarian regime recently have been declaring that Chavez someday will face justice for his crimes and will spend the rest of his days in a prison cell. But I disagree.
Chavez will remain in power for years to come, or else Chavez will be killed.
However, if (or when) Chavez is killed, Venezuela likely will suffer bloodshed and civil strike on a scale not seen in Latin America since Gaitan was murdered in Bogota in 1948.