December 2, 2007
Reuters News Service is reporting that Venezuela’s Socialist Leader, Hugo Chavez, is winning in today’s vote for his “referendums” that appear to be a power grab and set him up as Dictator for life.
Leopoldo Lopez, a popular Mayor and from Chavez’s opposition said, "According to our information, it is a statistical tie," citing his skepticism of the vote. Sources claim the voter turnout to be very low, which must come as a surprise to Luis Vicente Leon, head of Venezuela’s Datanalisis, who did the polling and who said that the number of Venezuelans who say they will not vote had shrunk from a majority of voters to around 40 percent last week.
Chavez, a fierce critic of the United States and close ally of Communist Cuba, had vowed earlier to defy polls that showed him lagging behind the opposition, to win a referendum that will allow him to rule for as long as he wishes.
Earlier polling showed Forty-nine percent of likely voters opposed Chavez's referendums of constitutional changes that will expand his powers as President.
Chavez has stated he desires to turn Venezuela into a Socialist State patterned after Dictator Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Self described "full-time revolutionary," Marlene Vanegas, 70, said, "The reform is very important for the country, we want to support our president, he was sent to us by God."
José Miguel Vivanco, America’s director at Human Rights Watch, stated in October that a proposed amendment would, “allow President Chavez to invoke a state of emergency to justify suspending certain rights that are untouchable under international law.” That would include the right to the presumption of innocence and to a fair trial; the right to an attorney; the right against self-incrimination; the right of a defendant to know the charges and evidence against him; and the right against double jeopardy.
Venezuelans say they have no trouble finding work under Chavez’s rule and his push for Socialism. What they seem to have trouble finding are the basic staples for life, food especially. Gustavo Arteaga, a Venezuelan construction worker says, "It takes a miracle to find milk," as he stood in line outside a store for two hours.
Storeowners claim Chavez’s price controls are so low they force them to sell at a loss, discouraging investment in the basic necessities. Government sources claim the problem is caused by growing demand by poor citizens who benefit from social programs, exaggerated media hype and food hoarding by unscrupulous businesses.
Ismael Perez, of the opposition group Conindustria, said, “businesses fear holding sufficient inventories due to an anti-hoarding law,” highlighted by government seizure of 25 tons of Nestles powdered milk. Lino Alves manager of Cueva de Iria, a bakery says, "Everything relating to flour and sugar is a problem. We call our providers and they say they don't have any. We only have enough milk to put in coffee."
Due to the inevitable Black Market that springs up under such tight restrictions on prices, one Venezuelan reported paying $12 for a can of powdered milk, regulated at $6. Jose Ferrer called the price an “insult,” but added, "I have to buy it for my kids, there is no other way."
Chavez has instituted a chain of government-subsidized supermarkets, but they too have been hit by food shortages.
Earlier in the year Chavez decided not to renew broadcasting licenses for station he accuses of supporting a coup against him. Human Rights Watch called the move “a misuse of the state’s regulatory authority to punish a media outlet for its criticism of the government.”
An Editorial at the Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal reminds us “Chavez fired the National Electoral Council (CNE) and named his own version, which presided over a crooked and non-transparent August 2004 recall referendum.” Former President Carter and the Bush Administration State Department both gave their blessings to this obvious election fraud.
Earlier Chavez purged the military after it refused to fire on protestors and briefly removed him from power in 2002. Ignoring the pleas of labor unions, human rights activists and religious leaders, Senator Chris Dodd (D. Conn) and Joseph P. Kennedy II voiced support for Chavez in exchange for discounts on oil to “benefit America’s poor.”
In spite of a "huge and peaceful 'no' rally" this past Thursday in Caracas; Chavez’s government sources today report that he is easily winning his reforms. Perhaps we are seeing an instance of the disputed quote often attributed to fellow Communist, Joseph Stalin, “It does not matter if you vote or how you may vote, what matters is who counts the votes.”
UPDATE: Fox News reporting the Venezuelan governmant claiming the vote is surrently too close to call. Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez claiming that results seen by election monitors "indicate the 'no' vote is going to win." CNN and Reuters reporting similar results.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Posted by Lew Waters at 6:41 PM