Monday, March 26, 2007

I sure hope they don't emulate these people 

As is well known, President Chavez is considering asking that the Venezuelan constitution be modified. Why a document that is only 7 years old needs to be modified already is beyond me (though abolishing the Supreme Court could be a good idea, more on that later).

I just hope that when Venezuelans do get around to modifying their constitution they don't take these people as their example:

Egyptian officials are hoping to add powers to the Constitution that would allow the president to more easily dissolve Parliament and give him free rein to suspend civil liberties and imprison anyone deemed a terrorist threat.


The sharpest debate has been over three areas of proposed change. One would ultimately allow broad powers to monitor and detain people accused of terrorist activities while not specifically defining terrorism. Another would limit the role of judges in monitoring elections, which are often mired in accusations of fraud. And a third would prohibit the creation of any religious political parties.

Truth be told though, even without any changes in the Constitution things are pretty bad in Egypt:

The move is occurring at a time when the government is showing less tolerance for criticism and political opposition. It has jailed opposition critics, including a member of Parliament and a former presidential candidate; it delayed local council elections by two years; it sentenced a blogger who had criticized the president to four years in prison; it has had troops fire on would-be voters to keep them away from the polls; and it has cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting members and freezing assets.

Wow, four years in prison for criticizing the president in your blog. I can think of some people who must be really happy they live in Venezuela and not in Egypt.

What is even more interesting here is that the Egyptian governments sugar, who criticizes the Venezuelan government if they so much as criticize their opponents, doesn't let any of this get in the way of their great friendship:

Egypt receives about $1.7 billion a year in American military and development aid, and at one time was held up by the White House as the vanguard for Democratic changes in the region. But the Bush administration’s pressure on Mr. Mubarak to enact such changes has evaporated as it has increasingly sought help in dealing with Iran, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

And Condi Rice seems completely unphased:

Rice said Washington was not trying to give orders to Egypt how to proceed with reforms. ``We recognize that states do this in their own way, and that they do it in a way that is consistent with their own cultural circumstances,'' she said.

``It is not a matter to try to dictate to Egypt how this unfolds, but it is a matter to say that Egypt is an extremely important country. That when Egypt leads, people listen.''

Amazing, the country hasn't had open and free elections in decades, has a president for more than 25 years that is now grooming his son for office, and where anyone who dare question this risks serious jail time and Condi doesn't bat an eyelid.

Yet with respect to a country that has had four votes on its president in the past four years, all monitored and judged free and fair by international observers, and that doesn't even bother to jail silly opposition bloggers she had this to say:

"I believe there is an assault on democracy in Venezuela and I believe that there are significant human rights issues in Venezuela. I do believe that the president of Venezuela is really, really destroying his own country, economically, politically."

Interesting how a country with a fully functional democracy, unfettered liberties, and respect for human rights gets so harshly criticized if it so much as has a pimple. Meanwhile, a country with barely a pretense of democracy or human rights is lavished with money and is told “don’t worry about it, do things your own way”. Could almost make you think Ms. Rice has something personal against Chavez doesn’t it.

But in reality I don’t think that is what it is about. More likely, it is just the same old self-serving hypocrisy that has characterized U.S. foreign policy for well more than a century.


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