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Venezuela's Emperor is naked and kicking

By Aleksander Boyd

Marbella 10.11.07 | Gone are the days when we struggled to explain to interested parties what Hugo Chavez meant for Venezuela's democracy. For the first time in many years international news correspondents based in Venezuela are actually reporting what's going on. Newswires and pictures depicting the caudillo's supporters shooting unarmed students are making the rounds. Nowadays very few people fall for the official propaganda, editors in some news sources even place single quotes when citing verbatim from Chavez or his officials, mocking its preposterousness.

The deterioration of Chavez's image is of his own making, his deep pockets can't buy talented enough PR people to spin his authoritarian actions. Everyone knows that he led a coup d'etat after conspiring for decades. Equally the fact that he's fixated on reforming the constitution in order to remain in power for life is not lost, neither it is that he is the only official in Venezuela that can aspire to it. His thoughts in this respect are telling "I won't allow the emergence of caudillos..." Chavez concluded. Ergo there can be only one caudillo in Venezuela.

Sugarcoating the reform by throwing some populist measures, such as reducing working hours in a country with so much poverty, only reflects the sheer disrespect he has for the less fortunate. Ignoring rulings from the Supreme Court contrarian to indefinite re-election demonstrates how little regard Chavez has for rule of law.

Still I have no doubts that when voting comes the reform will 'pass.' No international observers have been invited to the event. The media is almost in its entirety under the president's thumb and so are all branches of power, including the electoral council. Scarcity of eggs, milk, sugar and other basic food products will be solved a fortnight before the vote and Chavez will appear on TV saying that he had to, personally, counter hoarders and see that the country's shelves are stocked.

The traditional opposition has been relegated, eclipsed by the student movement, alas the students seem to be as ill equipped to successfully confront the caudillo as their predecessors. Their main proposal, which is to delay the referendum on the reform and summon a constituent assembly, only plays in the establishment's favour, for it shows a disposition to continue playing by the regime's rules in a game already fixed. Statements from former savior and ally General Raul Baduel against the reform, calling people out to vote NO, are nothing but a red herring as is the pretended lively dissent that exists within chavismo. And yet Venezuelans still believe in fake prophets.

Common wisdom outside Venezuela is that Hugo Chavez is not only a danger to his country but to the region. He's naked. If only his foes in the country could read him as clearly...

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