This blogger has been writing for quite a while that the radicalization of chavismo through 2005 and 2006 obeyed mostly to the need of Chavez to place himself as the heir of a visibly ailing Castro. There would be some democratic pretense until, at the very late, the "renewal" of December 2006; but then on Venezuela would become an all out authoritarian regime. Even the new name of "socialsit republic" and other constitutional changes are openly floated around.
The script not only is happening as predicted, but it is even speeding up. Coming back from his journey to radical lands where Chavez has cast his lot against democracy, he is met with the disease of Castro (or death?). There is no time to waste and radicalization of the regime must start without even waiting for the symbolic election of December. Chavez must assume the leadership of the radical left in the Americas before Castro "officially" dies. This is a ncessary step for him to assume a leadership of sorts in the world since his pals (such as Ahminadejad, Lukashenko or the Korean weirdo) are even less palatable than he is.
This is all quite well explained in this Veneconomy editorial of yesterday, posted below, which I cannot help to be tickled pink as it confirms so many of the things I have been writing about.
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On returning from his wanderings in the eastern part of the world – where he forged ties with some of the most extremist regimes of the day- and after receiving the news of the “retirement” of his mentor Fidel Castro, President Hugo Chávez once again gave his cabinet a shaking.
This time the shakeup denotes a speeding up in the radicalization of the “revolutionary” process of which he is the leader, an intensification that many analysts expected would not occur until after December 3, 2006.
This putting the foot down on the process’ accelerator can be explained on two fronts:
The first front with an eye on the situation abroad: The absence of Castro, regardless of whether it’s temporary or permanent, demands that Chávez make show of his strengths to his Latin American peers, the Empire, and his new Eastern allies, prove to them that he, as the continent’s most radical radical, is the logical heir to the Caribbean dictator. This is an essential move for achieving the Bolivarian dream of a multipolar world with Chávez at its head.
This explains the appointment of Nicolás Maduro as the Republic’s Foreign Minister, a chess piece who definitely has zero credentials for a job as a diplomat, but, in compensation for this “weakness,” has a long track record as a radical soldier and died-in-the-wool supporter of the process. Apart from that, he is fully identified with the anti-Semitism that the Venezuelan Head of State is now hoisting before the world. So, Maduro will be an ideal, obedient spokesman prepared to attack anyone he is ordered to attack by the Commander-in-Chief without diplomatic scruples of any kind.
The second is the domestic front: The President believes he will come out the winner from the presidential elections in December, so, as he sees it, there is no longer any point in waiting to move his pieces and fine tune his strategy for consolidating his 21st socialism at home. There is no longer any need to dissemble.
As part of this offensive we have the appointment to the Ministry of Basic Industries and Mining of the diehard radical trade unionist, former member of the Bolivarian Workers Force and, until now, chief of the MVR bench in the National Assembly, José Khan. This revolutionary fits in perfectly with plan to collectivize currently being implementing in Guayana. Khan, like Maduro, can be perceived as a man who made it up from the bottom and be counted on to take the message of social horizontality implicit in the process.
It remains to be seen who will replace Maduro as Parliamentary Chairman, where the task will surely be to focus on pushing through approval of the laws they still need to complete the Bolivarian legal web, among them the Antitrust Law, which will control the NGOs, the National Police Law, and the Education Law.
Also pending are the new appointments in ministries and government agencies that will more clearly define the flight plan for the radicalization of his process.