Chávez’s Dictatorship is Consolidated

Venezuela’s president, or dictator – depending on whom you ask – Hugo Chávez Frías, has declared that according to him, the government now owns a minority stake of 25.8% in Globovisión, and insists that he has the right to appoint a director. The person he has in mind is Mario Silva, a talk show host on state TV who is using his platform to vilify Globovisión.

The majority owner of Globovisión, Guillermo Zuloaga, says to Miami Herald that the claim is “absurd” and that Chávez has his facts wrong.

Last month an arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Zuloaga and his son, who fled the country and are now, reportedly, considering seeking political asylum in the US.

Globovisión is the last TV-network critical of Chávez that remains in Venezuela. They reach 42% of the population with 24-hour news that has a critical angle to the regime.

On September 26 parliamentary elections will be held. If Chávez follows through on his intentions, there will be no free and fair elections, since free and fair elections requires a free debate, which requires that there is more than one voice in media.

Judging from the acts of Chávez this year, he is getting increasingly desperate in his efforts to remain in power. The last parliamentary elections 5 years ago the opposition unwisely boycotted, giving him an easy victory. This time they are instead united behind a single candidate in each precinct.

In February Chávez had the judge María Lourdes Afiuni imprisoned for setting a person free after three years without trial. He was released since the prosecutor consistently failed to show up at scheduled trials. Although the law says he couldn’t be held for more than two years, his release caused Chávez to get furious on TV, and order her incarceration. This caused the European Parliament to issue a condemnation of Venezuela on July 8, 2010 and calling for them to be invited to monitor the elections September 26. To which as we have seen, Chávez responded by figuratively giving them the finger, arresting his outspoken political opponent Alejandro Peña Esclusa on patently false charges, on July 12.

In March one of Chávez’s judges had an opposition politician imprisoned just for demanding an investigation (on Globovisión) of the accusations made by a Spanish judge regarding possible contacts between the Venezuelan government and drug-smuggling and terrorist organizations such as FARC and ETA.

Unless very drastic measures, and extreme pressure is put on Venezuela now, there seems to be no hope for democracy this year. There must be a free opposition media, and there must be independent election observers, both during the election campaign and the actual election and vote counting. However, remember Stalin’s words, “it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.” Venezuela uses its own, state-controlled electronic voting machines.

It may be that the only way the Venezuelan people can get rid of Chávez is through a legal process that does not involve elections. The fact that such a process can work, peacefully, has been demonstrated many times the last 20 odd years, from East Germany to Honduras. There is no reason why it would not work also in Venezuela.

4 Comments

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AntiFarsas, Ulf Erlingsson. Ulf Erlingsson said: EU parliament condemned Chavez July 8. He gives the the finger July 12, arresting Pena Esclusa. http://blog.erlingsson.com/?p=3670 [...]

  • Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

    An editorial based on this blog article was posted on http://www.hondurasweekly.com/editorial/2796-chavez-dictatorship-now-consolidated yesterday, but today some dickhead hacked the site and replaced it with a text that — incredulously — contained a COPYRIGHT NOTICE as follows: “Copyright To Âzer Âtyàouî © 2009 – 2010″

    The pages now play music sympathetic to Gaza, and his hacking is dedicated to “all Muslims”.

    Hacking is cyber-terrorism. Terrorism is counter-productive. It alienates people. It makes people LESS, not more, sympathetic to the cause that the terrorist claims to be fighting for. That is why only bona fide dickheads are terrorists.

    As for Gaza and the rest of Palestine, they deserve their freedom, peace, and human rights just like everyone else. And they deserve to be spared the “bear-favor”, as we say in Sweden, of this cyber-terrorist.

  • Armando Daniel Sug wrote:

    Dear sir,

    I agree with everything in your article. However, for the sake of your own credibility I believe you should straighten up a couple of facts that are not true in the paragraph below.
    “There must be a free opposition media, and there must be independent election observers, both during the election campaign and the actual election and vote counting. However, remember Stalin’s words, “it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.” Venezuela uses its own, state-controlled electronic voting machines”

    1. There has been, so far, a free opposition media in all past elections in Venezuela. The danger however, is that every day there is less and less.
    2. Election observers have also participated in all previous elections including Carter Center, OAS, the EU and election commissioners from around the world. Let’s hope they keep going there.
    3. And last, the electronic voting machines are not state-controlled, they are outsourced to a multinational corporation that is the largest election technology and services provider in the world. Radical Chavistas are working hard to kick them out, and then get state control. But let’s also hope that doesn’t happen.

    the biggest problem Venezuelans have is that Chavez populist money-giving to the poor still harbors him a lot of support among the poor majorities…

    • Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

      Than you for the comments. I don’t disagree with you on any of the points.

      I have scrutinized electronic voting back when it was being introduced in Florida (before it was abandoned again), and in my opinion it is an entirely unacceptable form of voting since the one who controls the machines (i.e., the state) can determine the outcome. Cheating is possible in any machine-voting system, but it is much easier with electronic voting machines than other systems. The only fool-proof method is hand counting ballots in open view of the public.

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