Thursday, June 10, 2004

Is Venezuela a democracy?
A post in progress

Thursday 10, June 2004

With the announcement of a Recall Election in Venezuela we are witnessing a certain metamorphosis in some of the pseudo opinion makers around the media. For some of them, the fact that Chavez has accepted to run in a Recall Election is a proof that he is a democrat. Never mind that he had been forced into accepting such a thing, that the road to reach such an election is paved with violence, corruption, blackmail and what not. Never mind that August 15 is still far away and that a lot of water will go under that democracy bridge, enough water to sweep it away. Still, this does not stop the publication of ludicrous articles such as Weisbrot accusing the Washington post on lying about political prisoners in Venezuela when every body here knows that a couple of dozen people are sought or held with no trial in sight just because they acted on political grounds. Is he that ill informed? Is he lying himself? Then again he would not be the only one.

Thus I have decided to make a little table where I compare what a democracy should be, what Venezuela currently is and what an authoritarian regime is. The reader will be able to decide where does Venezuela falls.

Note: this post will be an open post. If people can come up with additional aspects to compare I will include them and eventually repost the whole list. Suggestions for a better presentation are of course welcome.

  Democratic regimesVenezuelaAuthoritarian regimes
Institutional and legal aspects,
that could be easily verified by curious international observers
independent and autonomous judicial poweryesnono
impartial inquisitory proceduresusuallynono
timely administration of justiceusuallynono
clear separation between legislative and executive powerusuallynono
national budgetary accountabilityyesnono
 freedom of the pressyesyesno
civilian control over the armyyesnono
army is a political actornosomewhatyes
respect for private propertyusuallynono
general accounting of government actions at the national levelusuallyvery limitednone
general accounting for governmental actions at the international levelyessomewhatsomewhat
Practical Aspects,
real life situations from the above that might not be as obvious for the international observer but that are common knowledge among Venezuelan citizens
fair electionsyesmaybeno
pressure on public employees depending on their political opinionsrareyesyes
political blackmail for governmental favors, jobspossibleyesyes
clean electionsyesmaybeno
effectivity of the press when denouncing governmental abuseyesnonot applicable
safety for journalists doing their jobyesnono
"cadenas", inadequate use of private networks air time by the government for political benefitnoyesyes
freedom of travelyesyespartial
freedom to tradeusuallyrestrictedvariable
influence on the political opposition on the application of some public policiesfrequentnonot applicable
corruptionexists, but sanctionedrampantusual
political prisonersrarelyyesyes
equality in front of the lawgenerallysomewhatno
equal access to to public servicesusuallylimitationsno
private property protectionyes, or with compensationvery limitedno
 personal security outside of political activitya goalvery lowvariable
personal security within political activityusuallyweaknone

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