Today I was driving back to San Felipe and each time I checked the radio, Chavez was in cadena. Since it was Bolivar's anniversary yesterday I was wondering what was the excuse for a cadena today. It took me several tries to finally realize that it was Chavez at the Nazional Assembly "commemorating" the 10th anniversary of the election of the Constituent Assembly that produced the failed constitution of 1999. I use the word failed deliberately since it has not only not been applied yet, but a lot of what was applied was ill done, and to add insult to injury the constitution of 1999 has been violated too many times to keep count.
Why did I needed several attempts to figure it out? Each time I tuned in, out of curiosity because I had no intention to waste further an afternoon of driving with a Chavez discombobulated rant, he was speaking of Honduras. That is right, Honduras is truly obsessing Chavez as he knows how much he risks losing if Zelaya is not sat again on the throne. In fact, considering how much Chavez is pushing Zelaya it is not enough anymore for Chavez to have Zelaya back in office with some form of compromise; no, now he needs Zelaya back in office, punishing those who overthrew him and pushing a new constitution. If Chavez cannot browbeat a small country like Honduras, what are the chances he can dominate a bigger piece of real estate like, say, Colombia?
It had to be late Saturday night when I finally had the courage to read the summary of Chavez cadena which lasted at least three hours. any one on the rad without CD or Ipod would have been subjected to the cadena everywhere, enough to drive you into an embankment out of despair. I was not disappointed: Chavez simply gave the order to the Nazional Assembly to pass a new enabling law so that he can help it (admire the cynicism) in making sure that by next December as the tenth anniversary of the 1999 constitution is reached there is not a single "counterrevolutionary law" left in the books. That is right, in chavismo imagery any law passed before 1999 is by definition counter revolutionary, even if it treats of, say, the management of a botanical garden. What else could you expect from a president that feels very threatened to the point of paranoia? From a regime busy rewriting history as the only way left for them to hide their incompetence and lack of democratic values? (1)
The explanation for yet a new outburst is that Chavez knows more or less what is going on. With his poll numbers looking South and a possible major embarrassment n Honduras, not only his reelection in 2012 is not a sure thing, but he could well fail to reach the 2/3 parliamentary majority his plans require, amen of a possible outright loss of majority as the opposition seems to be understanding that a united front is THE ONLY way to win in December 2010. Assuming of course that votes are actually counted. The only way for Chavez to preserve a democratic fig leaf is to win 2/3 at the new Nazional Assembly, the only way he can make sure that all the appointees to control institutions are from his side. As soon as an independent inquirer reaches some power you can imagine how fast the whole thing will unravel. Thus a simple majority IS NOT ENOUGH for Chavez.
Even Chavez must be realizing that too many things are escaping his control. The Ledezma hunger strike and subsequent visit to the OAS might have achieved little but as a publicity stunt they were great, the more so when compared to Honduras media fiasco, at least at this writing. That Zelaya is totally worthless cannot have escaped Chavez either, even if it could be convenient for his plans were he succeed in restoring him. In Honduras there is a real opposition willing to fight to the end and with more popular support than most care to admit: it is Latin America after all, and coups are, well, not such a terrible thing when they are nearly bloodless. Zelaya seems woefully unable to handle the situation, increasing daily the risks for Chavez. Remember, Honduras can still call for earlier elections in late October which means that they now need to hold on for only three months, a blink in politics now that the worse has passed.
And to this of course you an add all the other domestic problems that not only are more and more intractable, but are becoming harder to resolve the more Chavez obsesses with Honduras.
Thus this new outburst: Chavez has decided to lock up his reelection, and the one of HIS assembly, by December through enough laws to make sure that it is impossible for the opposition to make a credible electoral bid. Period.
I think it is very fitting that Chavez "celebrates" ten years of a constituent assembly by announcing that he is about to violate the constitution a shit load of times from here to December. The irony is priceless and reminds us that constitutions are only as good as the people who apply them. As such the Venezuelan one, already deeply flawed from the start, is an utter failure.
1) Enabling laws have of course a sinister connotation since Nazi Germany. The use and abuse of Chavez to this figure is not helping.