Monday, February 12, 2007
While I am no politician or political analyst or even that accomplished at such thought, I must say that on the surface the reforms being put out by Chavez sound pretty good. He seems to be walking the talk more than the presidents of some countries that I won't mention. Hopefully things are going along as this article claims.
Here is a response to the enabling law passed that grants Chavez the power to pass legislation by decree. (Perhaps Bushies don't like this in part due to jealousy?)
While it isn’t hard to see the real agenda of the US government and pro-capitalist opposition groups, even some friends of the Venezuelan revolution have expressed concern over the power the enabling law grants Chavez.
However, the reality of the law is very different from the way the corporate media has reported it. Even US State Department spokesperson Thomas Shannon acknowledged that the enabling law is “something valid under the constitution … At the end of day it’s not a question for the United States or for any other country, but for Venezuela.”
Not only is the legislation allowed for in the constitution, it was also used by four Venezuelan presidents before Chavez. As these presidents governed on behalf of corporate interests, none of the forces currently up in arms showed any concern. Also, Chavez was granted an enabling law in 2000. Far from leading to a dictatorship, Chavez used the power to pass 49 pro-poor laws that, as Wilpert points out, “democratised land ownership and access to credit in Venezuela, amongst other things”.
It's been used before, but it's never been a problem with other non-interfering countries. Now it is?
Most important, as Chavez pointed out at his February 1 press conference, under Venezuela’s constitution, which Chavez insisted was “the broadest and most democratic in the world”, any law, including any law Chavez passes by decree, can be overturned by the people via a national referendum.
Wilpert explained that under Article 74, a referendum to annul any legislation can be held if 10% of the electorate sign a petition calling for it. For laws passed by decree, that percentage is only 5%. This means in Venezuela a petition signed by around 800,000 registered voters would force a referendum on any law Chavez passes.
This is a dramatic extension of democracy that doesn’t exist in most countries, where pro-corporate politicians can force through highly unpopular legislation with the citizens having no legal recourse. This is combined in Venezuela with the right to recall any elected official half way through their term. The opposition used this in 2004 against Chavez, who won the subsequent referendum with just under 60% of the vote.
The passage below discusses a poll of Venezuelans. While it is not the same as the polls we have that estimate the country's satisfaction with the POTUS, it's similar. And if the numbers are right, more Venezuelans are happy with their democracy than Americans (US) are with their president.
The result is that, according to Chilean-based polling company Latinobarometro, the number of Venezuelans satisfied with their democracy has risen from 32% when Chavez was first elected in 1998, to 57% in 2006 — well above the 38% Latin American average.
My what a mess we're in.