I've been extremely fortunate to attract an amazing mix of regulars to my blog...a crew self-dubbed "The Expendables." The conversations range from serious to silly and often have nothing to do with my post for the day. The topic du jour on Friday, January 19 was a certain Venezuelan president.
Paul M. wrote: "Hello all Expendables. What do you make of the latest accusations leveled at Chavez?"
Paul was referring a BBC News report, "Rule by decree passed for Chavez" (Subtitled: "Venezuela's National Assembly has given initial approval to a bill granting the president the power to bypass congress and rule by decree for 18 months"). The article began: "President Hugo Chavez says he wants 'revolutionary laws' to enact sweeping political, economic, and social changes." In the name of strengthening his "Bolivarian revolution," it seems Chavez has said he wants to "nationalize key sectors of the economy and scrap limits on the terms a president can serve." He also wants to see "major Venezuelan power and telecoms companies come under state control ... (and) an end to foreign ownership of lucrative crude oil refineries in the Orinoco region."
Paul M. added: "I totally oppose authoritarianism in all its forms, and idiotic Socialists/Marxists are always susceptible to this, but I'm wondering if it's the BBC reporting a lot of sh*t again."
My response: "Who knows? I certainly don't trust the corporate media as an objective source, re: official U.S. enemies. But, of course, Chavez is human and thus capable of such behavior. What does everyone else think?"
Here's a sampling of Expendable comments (based on what was known on Jan. 19):
Deb: "It initially looks bad, but I'd want to hear perspectives from the people in Venezuela. One thing I've noticed is that Chavez keeps giving to the people - the poor people. That is one big reason the fathead leaders will view him with suspicion and try to make him sound like a tyrant. We 'democratically' elect our tyrants who continually take from the poor to give to the rich. Is an authoritarian leader who takes from the rich to give to the poor really a worse choice? I don't have much of an opinion on the latest from the BBC until I hear what the people in Venezuela have to say. I just don't know enough of the situation to be able to see on my own what the BBC isn't saying."
Zenprole: "If there is any truth to this Chavez story, I think he's making a big mistake. In the past, he has used presidential power to blunt antidemocratic efforts to undermine the Bolivarian program (firing oil industry provocateurs, for instance), but has wisely and strongly kept within the Constitutional framework (unlike some presidents we could mention). Whatever the reason for this decree power (if the story is accurate), it likely won't outweigh the rationalizations it will give the U.S. to ramp up attacks. And this may just be another case of an independent government being under such constant pressure that this is a response rather than an initiative. I'd like to learn more about this. Thanks for the link, Paul."
Edson: "As for Chavez, I don't see what the big deal is. The West always preaches about what a great system we have because there are checks and balances on power and those who wield it. So then, how to explain the absolute mess we've made of this planet? Where are the checks and balances to the greed of the ruling oligarchy? I'd rather have a guy like Chavez or Castro in charge than a democratic government like Harper's (up here in Canuckistan) or Bush's."
RMJ: "I agree with Edson. Chavez is a lot better than most. As far as ruling by decree goes, I think a Benevolent Monarchy would be better than the corrupt, oppressive, bought-and-paid-for Predatory Capitalism that exists in the USA. A Benevolent Monarchy would be an improvement over a Corpocracy. Chavez gave U.S. citizens some oil to heat their homes. The U.S. government says, 'Let 'em freeze to death'."
And finally, JOS summed up: "Long live the Bolivarian Revolution! I am sure his congress is littered with scum-elected on CIA money and U.S. propaganda-that would simply block him from completing the steps the people elected him to accomplish. Taking back businesses and resources from foreign corporate multi-nationals sounds like a great thing."