Sunday, November 25, 2007


Next week at this time we will be eagerly awaiting the results of Venezuela's vote on the proposed reforms to its Constitution. Well, maybe some of you will filled with anticipation, but I am no longer sure that I will.

Up until recently I have had a clear position on the reforms. I was against them due to some of them reducing the democratic control of Venezuelans over their own government.

No, I haven't changed my mind on those things. Those reforms, increasing the presidential term to 7 years and making recall referendums more difficult to invoke, are just as unacceptable today as they were a month ago.

Worse still, as his campaign has become more desperate Chavez has made the incredible statement that anyone who votes against the reforms is a "traitor". A traitor to what? To Chavez? To Venezuela?

And what exactly is treasonous - thinking for oneself? Does this mean only people who obey orders - not people who think - need apply for membership in, say, the PSUV?

The bottom line is such a flawed reform sold using such demeaning and insulting tactics certainly does not deserve anyones vote. Based on this voting NO would seem to be the obvious choice.

Unfortunately, things aren't so simple. The reason being that those who have spearheaded the movement against the reforms are the same people who have spearheaded the anti-Chavez efforts for the past eight years. Unfortunately, a defeat for this lousy reform package would likely be interpreted as a victory for those reactionaries.

Now you say - "so what if they view it as they won, as long as the reforms are defeated". But that problem can't be dismissed so easily. The reason being they would almost certainly take that electoral result and use it as justification for trying to destabilize the government. Within hours of a NO victory they would likely be on Globovision insisting that Chavez resign even though of course he is slated to be president for the next 5 years.

The reality is the opposition hasn't changed. Just look at their most recent stunts of instigating violence so they can then cry "repression". Or their recent desire to march once again on the presidential palace. And just recently they have been hoping the words of one former military man means there is "unrest in the barracks".

Sadly it looks as though the Venezuelan opposition has not matured at all. If there have been no oil strikes recently, it is only because most of them already got fired from PDVSA. If there have been no coup attempts it is only because most of them were purged after their last coup attempt. And if there was a lull in their rock throwing street demonstrations it was because they had a hard time getting people out of the malls and into the street. In other words, if they have not resorted to undemocratic means recently to try to unseat Chavez it is not because they no longer want to but rather simply that they have lacked the means to employ those methods.

And lets not forget for one second how thoroughly undemocratic the opposition is. As flawed as it is, and as outrageous as Chavez's rhetoric can be, at least these reforms are being put to a vote. But when the opposition briefly came to power they did their own little constitutional reform - they ripped the whole thing up with no vote, no discussion, no debate, no nothing.

Can anyone really believe that if these people ever regained power they wouldn't do the same thing all over again? No, one can't. It is more than clear that the Constitution, many laws, the Missions, and many other accomplishments of this government wouldn't last a week under the opposition. And they won't be slowed down by silly little things like referendums.

Given that all that it would be hard, to say the least, to vote against the reforms and thereby giving the reactionary opposition a second wind and the ability to create havoc again.

Looking at this I can only think that no matter which side wins next Sunday, Venezuela as a country loses.


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