The first thing we can say is that whenever the intensity and frequency of cadenas increase, it is an admission by the government that its polling numbers are not good and they must use Chavez himself as the propaganda gun to recover some more favorable numbers. This has been working quite well in the past when Chavez could announce each time a new social program or some presumed revolutionary victory. But as the social programs are not running too well these days and oil production is going down and RCTV is a bitter sore in the popular classes, we may ask ourselves how effective this abuse will be this time. After all, even with chavismo, at some point bis repetita non placent.
Thus I had to rely on newspaper accounts to read what the hell Chavez did a cadena yesterday. They were enough just in the release from El Universal.
Megalomania, when you hold us in your grip!
First, we were treated to what will be one of the main teams of the constitutional changes, indefinite reelection of Chavez. Thus he is presenting himself as the only man capable of directing the country and henceforth he should be allowed to do so. We can even say he is metabolizing it in his organs when he says such silliness:
but I am convinced (...) that these six years for me, for the project that I incarnate, that I push forwards with my bones, my liver, my kidneys, my lungs, my throat, with my nails, the period is not enough.
After such a, literally, visceral statement one is left with no doubt as to the mental state of the beloved leader. Wits, by the way, might notice that there was no mention of Chavez brains...
The referendum lies
Another nice little item I found is this one: if in two years from now someone asks for a recall election and the motion wins, he will go. Yeah, right...
The first question here is why present himself as Venezuela's only hope and assume that in two years he might be gone after all? What is that? A Freudian subconscious uncertainty in his infallibility? An admission of electoral treachery? Or plain delusional B.S.? It is when you read such nonsense that you really understand the need to have journalists, good ones, in front of him and asking him on the spot why such incongruities in his speech. A self assured leader does not even speculate on such things when he is asking for a life presidency! I am pretty sure that neither Napoleon nor Castro ever said such nonsense. Though we do see once again the virtue of cadenas for Chavez, he can talk, talk talk and zero accounting, no straight minded reporter to call him on his flights of fancy. Eventually the feeble minded audience gets wrapped by these contradictions and embraces them.
But there is something better: during the electoral campaign towards the December 2006 election Chavez made one of his important campaign speeches where he promised to call himself for a recall election on his next term. Yes, that is right, as a way to soothe the Venezuelan people, to distract from the fear of six more years of autocracy, to help forget momentarily the apartheid Tascon List as a killer of referenda and democracy, Chavez offered to ask himself for a recall election on his term by December 2010. After yesterday we can be assured that there will be no such referendum in 2010, nor probably ever again if Chavez gets his unlimited reelection.
The world media campaign against Venezuela
Apparently it seems that the US orchestrated negative campaign against Venezuela is so powerful that it dominates even the European press. That is right, all the respectable European newspapers and media and governments have bought into the US argument that closing a TV station for personal vendetta is a bad thing. What is this? huh?
But it gets better: Chavez is sorry that his ambassadors in Europe do not have access to the means to counter such a campaign. What? Venezuelan ambassadors are not allowed to make cadenas in Europe? The nerve of these Europeans!!!!!!
The French case
If the ridicule of the above comment were not enough, we can add another one ridicule with the pretension that the Venezuelan system is just like the French system where presidential reelection is unlimited. True but wrong anyway.
It seems to have all started with Sarkozy writing to Chavez a "friendly letter". I suspect that the new French administration is not quite aware of chavismo and sure enough its first entreat is shamelessly used for propaganda purposes by Chavez. Serves them right. For the record I would like to cite myself when I wrote here that Segolene Royal would have probably had a more principled foreign policy than Sarkozy as the French right has tended to be quite mercenary in its foreign policy. Sarkozy seems to be headed that way, at least in LatAm. Note also that the social democrats of France have rebuked Chavez in ways that the right has never done, that I know of anyway. And then people wonder how come I tend to vote Socialist in France, but I digress...
What Chavez said reflected 1) his complete ignorance of French political history and 2) his willingness to distort anything he can distort to suit his goals.
French presidency was a 7 year term affair established in the constitution of 1871. That constitution was written at a time when France was not sure it would return to a monarchic system or move forward a republican one. Thus the head of state was designed as a weak constitutional monarchy: either a president or a king could take over the job and either one will be equally well controlled by the parliament. That is the way the French system was from 1871 until 1958: a strong parliamentarian system where the head of state, a president it turned out over time, was only good enough to inaugurate exhibits and make colorful state visits outside of the country. The president by the way was elected by the French Congress, not the people!!!
Obviously in such system a president could be president for life: there was no way he could affect much the destinies of the country. In fact this was even implied in a 7 year term which aimed at promoting a certain idea of stability through a symbolic figure/fatherly head.
But in 1958 the constitution was changed and the president got more power. In 1962 the president became elected by the people and the consequence was a slow but continuous shift towards a more presidential system. Today France is a hybrid system: when the president benefits of a parliamentarian majority France is in fact a presidential system. But f a president loses that majority, the new Prime minister from the opposition becomes the real ruler of France. Still, this has been bothersome to the political class and in effort to acknowledge that presidential drift a first reform was voted where Presidential Term and Legislative Terms were given the same time period, five years. And going further, Sarkozy has offered to change further the constitution by giving the president two consecutive terms only.
Chavez failed to mention that about France. Imagine that! But then again Chavez consistently fails to mention such elements as strong institutions, rule of law and separation of powers, institutions that allow French people to sleep tight at night even if their president can be in theory still elected ad infinitum. In fact, even the great De Gaulle was forced out of office and he was certainly of another caliber than Chavez and had achieved quite more.