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LOENING: President Chavez endangers democracy in Venezuela!

By Susanne Buehler, Portal Liberal

BERLIN. As a kidnapper of the counting process of the referendum against his presidency, the speaker of development policy of the FDP Bundestag faction, Markus LOENING referred to Chavez.

The period for the signature verification of the referendum, running off today, was extended to the end of the month. Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez seems set in preventing a democratic referendum geared at recalling his mandate. Chavez was once celebrated as the guy that gave hope to the poor in Latin America in the Western countries. As time elapses is becoming more evident how the populist leader has taken off his social-revolutionary mask.

Chavez has destroyed drives of the middle class in its country whilst exploiting in a predatory manner the resources of the country; he instigates armed violence against his opponents and punishes the country’s economy with foreign exchange controls imposed after last year’s strike.

Venezuela ranks today in the world wide ranking of free national economies under the last ten - even behind Cuba! Chavez wants to ominously control the judiciary with heightening measures that will cause the highest court to lose its independence and wants to restrict freedom of expression with a media law.

In stalling the referendum effort Chavez has crossed the "red line" finally loosing as a consequence any democratic legitimacy that he had. Venezuela is in a dramatic economic, political and social situation moreover it constitutes the best example of what could happen to a country when an autocratic ruler severs the link between a potentially rich nation and the rest of the world.

The people of Venezuela are trying to exercise the last democratic chance they have got, with the referendum, to prevent this. Therefore it needs and merits our support. In light of this situation I request the Federal Government, together with the European Union partners in Caracas, to pressure for the counting process of the referendum to continue as expected; to force him to behave democratically; and should president Chavez continue to disregard democratic and constitutional principles we must refuse his entry to the European Union and begin with a blockage of external accounts of the Chavez clan.

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