From bad to worse in Venezuela
By A. M. Mora y Leon, The American Thinker
08.11.04 - The great unreported story of the past week was Venezuelan Castrophile President Hugo Chavez's nearly total consolidation of power. Last weekend, in miserable elections that were mostly ignored by dispirited voters, Chavez "won" 21 out of 23 governors' seats. Venezuela's voters were still bitter over the stolen recall referendum last Aug. 15 and concluded that their votes didn't matter. But that consolidation of power is rapidly moving Venezuela, a country that supplies a sixth of the U.S.'s oil, deep into totalitarianism.
Chavez's first move since becoming 'El Supremo' is to settle old scores. Enemy number one is the media. Venezuela has an authentic independent press that freely scrutinizes Chavez's every move, and he's long demanded that they stop. He's a touchy dictator and feels threatened by criticism. So he's long warned them, with dangerous results. Since his consolidation, some leading news outfits, such as Gustavo Cisneros' Venevision, have gone from feisty wildcats to pliant hamsters, practicing self-censorship in the hopes that the censor's blade won't fall upon them. But such appeasement hasn't done them much good. Hugo Chavez has every intention of enacting laws to clamp down on the media, ending the one final weapon the Venezuelans have against their descending night totalitarianism
It's a terrible spectacle indeed. Already the Chavistas control the courts. They control the voter rolls and vote-counting apparatuses. They control the legislature and now the governorships. They control the once-meritocratic state-owned oil company, PdVSA, now running it through ignorant political hacks. They plan Zimbabwe-style expropriations against private property, a threat they will probably carry out. They control the army and are about to absorb the police - whom they don't control. They control the currency through capital controls and have designs on taking over the central bank. They have persecuted non-partisan political organizations like Sumate and now, have begun rounding up and murdering dissident military men. They control every institution in the country.
The last line of defense now is the media. And they want control of that, too. To keep us all in the dark - and it will probably in the end destroy the blogs and English-language media, too. After destroying the media, there won't be much else to take over in Venezuela. The Chicago Tribune writes an excellent summary of the scope of this slowly shutting curtain on events in a totalitarian state. It can only be hoped that the OAS, still smarting from its own disgraceful performance in the Aug. 15 recall referendum, steps up to the plate and demands it be stopped. And if we want to keep knowing what's going on down there, we should, too.
UPDATE: Aleksander Boyd, of Vcrisis (essential reading for those following Venezuela), reports that there is reason to suspect that Chavez may have used assasination to deal with a troublesome opponent.
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