Death of Venezuelan Democracy?

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Death of Venezuelan Democracy?

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez today was given virtual dictatorial powers in a unanimous vote by legislators. Chávez has said he will use the power to further his socialist revolution. look for him to take steps to nationalize the lucrative oil industry and impose measures to tax the rich to the benefit of the poor. As expected, Chávezs' biggest supporters are the many poor of the nation.

It is unclear how Mr. Chávez will make use of the temporary enabling law, which grants him 11 vague but sweeping powers, including the authority to "transform the institutions of the state"; impose a "new social and economic model"; reform the army and take control of the country's banking, insurance, energy and transport sectors.

Granting a leader such broad powers is reminiscent of those given to Adolph Hitler in 1933 when he came to power in Germany. Hitler imposed sweeping reforms that not only brought prosperity for  masses but led to a militaristic Germany that started World War II. Chávez is no Hitler nor is Venezuela anywhere near the power and status of Germany, then or now. But it should be instructive for the free world to watch how someone like Chávez who clearly uses some of the same tactics as past dictators works with the power he does have.

Chávez has courted all those who are enemies of America.  Iran's President Ahmadinejad has recently visited Chávez and pledged aid and support. Chávez recently bought massive amounts of arms from Russia, many of which could find there way into other Latin American countries to be used to destabilize existing governments.

This week Chavez visited Cuba's ailing Fidel Castor in another show of solidarity. Castro is on a death watch but seems to have staged a minor "recovery". What bears watching is Cuba after Castro. Will Chavez seek to exert influence in the nation that perpetuates its anti-American stance?  A recent Stratfor report on Cuba pointed out that Cuba sets astride a major American transportation artery, the Gulf of Mexico. Oil ships into and out of Houston and grain ships out of the Mississippi River must go by Cuba. While this has never been challenged, even under Castro, what if a belligerent power controlled Cuba and started causing trouble for America in this manner? Don't count anything out in today's world.

If you have not read Cecil Maranville's article on Chavez in the December 2006 WNP article then do so here.

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