William Blum on Chavez’ constitutional reforms

[Excerpted from larger piece here. Also see Blum’s monthly “Anti-Empire Report.”]

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Hugo the demon dictator strikes again

The latest evidence that Hugo Chavez is a dictator, we are told, is that he’s pushing for a constitutional amendment to remove term limits from the presidency. It’s the most contentious provision in his new reform package which has recently been approved by the Venezuelan congress and awaits a public referendum on December 2. The lawmakers traveled nationwide to discuss the proposals with community groups at more than 9,000 public events, rather odd behavior for a dictatorship, as is another of the reformssetting a maximum six-hour workday so workers would have sufficient time for personal development.

The American media and the opposition in Venezuela make it sound as if Chavez is going to be guaranteed office for as long as he wants. What they fail to emphasize, if they mention it at all, is that there’s nothing at all automatic about the processChavez will have to be elected each time. Neither are we enlightened that it’s not unusual for a nation to not have a term limit for its highest office. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, if not all of Europe and much of the rest of the world, do not have such a limit. The United States did not have a term limit on the office of the president during the nation’s first 175 years, until the ratification of the 22nd Amendment in 1951. Were all American presidents prior to that time dictators?

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