Venezuela's Chavez Stepping up the revolution
In his last speeches, President Hugo Chávez has announced a new stage in “stepping up” his Bolivarian revolution that he failed to mention during his campaign and that he has now begun to outline, revealing what Venezuela can expect in the very short term:
Centralization of power: Chávez wants to consolidate his power by getting Chavista candidates into the mayoralties and state governments. If the regime wins at the upcoming regional elections, what decentralization has been achieved so far would be lost, as these entities would follow the central government line dictated by Chávez as the sole leader.
National Police: The first sign will be the passing of the bill that will centralize all the regional police forces and that would incorporate members of the National Guard into the national force.
Gagging the media: He has asked the National Assembly to pass the Social Responsibility in Radio and Television bill –better known as the “Gag Bill” because of its negative implications for the freedom of expression- as a matter of urgency.
Expropriations: Chávez has indicated that he will apply the Law of Lands and Agrarian Development to its full extent. “We are going after idle land to put it to work. I have said this and that’s how it’s going to be,” he said. There will be a “rural land tax” levied on idle land.
Two new ministries: He has announced the creation of the ministries of Housing and Food.
More control over the judicial system: As one of his achievements, Chávez recently reminded everyone that the new justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and other judges of the Republic are to appointed shortly.
Loyal opposition: Refusal to recognize the Democratic Coordinator. According to Chávez, it’s time to back “more serious” -read more controllable- politicians.
Party discipline: No dissention or divisions will be allowed within the groups supporting him. He says that the Chavista must be revolutionary and Bolivarian. He will not tolerate “Chavismo light.”
Constitutional amendment: Although he has made no announcements, he has already requested a review that could result in an amendment to the Constitution. The passing of any such amendment would be in the hands of the Chavista majority in parliament and will start with the parliamentary session and the 22 outstanding bills, among them the “Foreign Exchange Crimes” bill.
That being the way things are, more announcements can be expected, particularly if account is taken of the fact that the President is taking advantage of his “ratification” in office to speed up his plans.
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