Sunday, June 08, 2008

Venezuela moves closer to a police state

The June 7, 2008 issue of The Economist reports that Hugo Chavez issued a decree late last month which:
authorises police raids without warrant, the use of anonymous witnesses and secret evidence. Judges are obliged to collaborate with the intelligence services. Anyone caught investigating sensitive matters faces jail. The law contains no provision for any kind of oversight. It blurs the distinction between external threats and internal political dissent. It requires all citizens, foreigners and organisations to act in support of the intelligence system whenever required--or face jail terms of up to six years.
Though my employer operates in Venezuela, I think that's one South American country I'd rather not visit at the moment... I hope November's elections reduce Chavez's power and he steps down from power in 2013 as he's previously said that he would.

And Daniel Ortega has suspended elections in Nicaragua... another country to avoid.


Hume's Ghost said...

One thing that annoys me is people who can see the obvious problems with Chavez slowly consolidating power for himself, but see no problem when President Bush does the same via his Yoo conception of a Emperor-King War Czar presidency. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his pamphlet-esque How Would a Patriot Act?, the powers that Chavez has asserted do not differ from those claimed tacitly and implicitly by the Bush administration.

I also find the converse annoying. That being people who have can see what is wrong with the Bush administration's power grabs but explain away what Chavez is doing. Greg Palast comes to mind (he is a big fan of Chavez and seems to have a blindspot for leftists populists like Huey Long.)

Hume's Ghost said...

Let me clarify: Greenwald does not compare the Bush administration to Chavez. He does point out that the administration's claims of power inherent in the Constitution would effectively abrograte our civil liberties and pretty much the Constitution itself.

cowmix said...

I just find it hard to take anything our press says about Chavez seriously.. To put it nicely our press (and government) did very little to be accurate or even handed during the coup attempt of 2002. To this day I take everything I read, see and hear about Chavez with a grain of salt from our MSM.

Watch this:

Jim Lippard said...

For what it's worth, The Economist is based in the UK... It seems to me that the UK press has been far more accurate than the U.S. press regarding the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.

But it can't be denied that Chavez has done things like shut down RCTV for being critical of him.

cowmix said...

First.. I agree The Economist is way more balanced than some US media sources.

However, I have to disagree that even the RCTV episode is anywhere a black and white case of Chavez being 'unfair' to the press.

I'm not trying to be a Chavez apologist here but when I looked just a little under the covers of this issue it appears to be MUCH more complex than I originally thought. A while ago there was a series of 'threads' on BoingBoing regarding the shutdown of the TV station(s). This thread in particular is a good summary of an 'alternate' view.

Jim Lippard said...

Very interesting. Thanks, cowmix, I'll have to check out that movie.

Jim Lippard said...

Looks like the so-called "Gestapo decree" was repealed on June 10.