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Is Venezuela still a democracy?

By Aleksander Boyd

London 23 Mar. 04 - I was asked yesterday to write an essay about democracy and frankly I did not know how to start. Which definition did the examiners want? The one utilised by Chavez, Mugabe, Castro and their sycophantic leftist supporters or that contained in encyclopaedias? There seems to be a widespread mental virus which prevents people from understanding the concept, allow me then to commence with the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary:

1. Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them (as in the small republics of antiquity) or by officers elected by them. In mod. use often more vaguely denoting a social state in which all have equal rights, without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege.

Government by the people, mmm… What people? The ones whom have elected the government or the ones whom oppose it? “The sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised directly by them.” That sentence encapsulates a powerful message for purportedly power resides in the people as a whole. However it follows “or by officers elected by them.” I did not elect Hugo Chavez for the presidency of Venezuela, how can he make use of a power that I did not bestow upon him? Then it comes the definite maxim “In mod. use often more vaguely denoting a social state in which all have equal rights, without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege.” A social state in which all have equal rights without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege. I thought it was worth repeating it. So we all have equal rights and there ought not to be any mechanisms in place to prevent us from enjoying them. One must wonder whether Hugo Chavez has heard this before.

Chavistas are able to camp outside the CNE, I am not. Chavistas make constant use of Venezolana de Television to praise their leader, alas I can not praise mine. Chavistas have decided fitting to send 54.000 barrels of the nation’s oil daily to Cuba –for free- contravening the interests of the Republic (theirs and mine) without having consulted me or my representative. Chavistas decided to modify certain laws and statutes in El Calvario, but opposition assemblymen and women can not legislate in Altamira. Chavistas have prohibited me from participating in political matters when deciding that those who live abroad could not sign in the collection drive to trigger the recall referendum to remove Chavez from the presidency. Chavistas, arbitrarily, have placed a burden of debt upon me and the rest of the nation for years to come, the internal debt has been multiplied by 8 (from $2 billion to $16 billion), without giving appropriate consideration to the harm done. Chavistas violate, on a daily basis, the constitution and the rights therein enshrined. Prime example is the top justice of the Supreme Court ignoring precedent, statutes and the constitution to defend an illegal measure taken by the Electoral Council.

Ergo I do believe that there exists arbitrary differences between me and a chavista; I do feel unprivileged; my representative (the Attorney General) has not performed his duties and has failed utterly in defending my interests, as a matter of fact he is just another servile lackey of Hugo Chavez. I have got no power, further there are no institutions in the land willing to side with me in denouncing the abuses of this regime. How can I consider then that the system prevailing in my country is a democracy? I can not.

2. A state or community in which the government is vested in the people as a whole.

In a population of nearly 25 million, at least 3.4 million individuals are not considered part of the “whole.” This begs for the question, is democracy selective? Are the political tendencies of an individual reason enough to render him/her unable to take active part in democracy? Does a democratically elected president have the right to confiscate constitutional precepts and violate the rule of law?

Analysts in Europe believe that there is a democratic deficit in the Union. The “Will of the People,” they maintain, is not fully represented in the European parliament for MPs are not directly elected but rather are appointed by political parties. One must wonder what they would say about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez after realising that all the branches of power are controlled ominously by one man.

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