Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dictatorship or not? Redefining our terms of endearment

This post is not a reply to my esteemed colleague Juan Cristobal, but he certainly demands, unwillingly perhaps, that we all clarify our terms before entering our new life under Internet censorship and official dictatorship.

As far as this blogger is concerned we have been under a dictatorship for quite a while, in fact, as soon as Chavez refused to recognize the 2007 referendum result by making up laws in direct violation to the people's will and constitutional requirements.  That he was already, since 2003, ruling as an autocrat is one thing, but we needed to be clearer about an actual date at which he left the constitution to call him in earnest a dictator.  At the very latest Chavez became a pre-dictator in 2007 when he refused to recognize the referendum results and started enacting laws whose principles had been clearly rejected at the polls.  Maybe it is nitpicking of my part but for me, truly, Chavez as a dictator started in February 2004 when for the first time the Nazional Guard brutally shot protesters for no real reason.  Of course all of these considerations are under Venezuelan understanding of the constitution where minor violations by the big boss are not looked upon as fully damning.  Dictatorship in Venezuela can be defined as the time when the violations are just too many.  In a truly democratic, rule of law, country, Chavez would have been declared a dictator when he forced an unconstitutional referendum in 1999 to change the constitution.

What has changed this two past months is that it is now official, that the regime assumes openly its dictatorial nature, even its forthcoming neo-totalitarian bent.  True, Globovison is on the air still, but that is not the point.  The point is two fold:

1. Chavez will now rule unencumbered for the next 18 months.  This exorbitant power will cease a mere few months before the 2012 scheduled elections.  During that time he will have generous power to decide on all, from the mundane to the divine, without anyone being able to to even attempt control.  As such the opposition will be cornered from the start of the electoral campaign which for all practical purposes has already started.  The aim is to make it impossible for the opposition to win the 2012 election.  The electoral cheating will take place right now, not on election day.

2.  The second point is that under his new powers Chavez  will be able to create and define crime at will, thus making normal democratic attitudes and actions a political crime.  This is really the change that we saw happening these past few weeks, a grave aggravation of the running dictatorship.  We must note that among the attributions given to him by the Nazional Assembly there are matters of national security, penal matters and redistribution of political land boundaries.  In other words, any opposition mayor or governor can simply be "redistricted out" and if he fights back can be declared a criminal for not respecting the "law".  Along all of the people that will defend him or protest other laws.

The comparison I made of that specific enabling law with the one of Hitler in 1933 does indeed stand.  If it is true that Chavez is far from having committed crimes seen in totalitarian states, now he is on the slope to perpetrate them.  By the way, I personally consider the Tascon list a totalitarian crime already, which makes the Chavez dictatorship odd in that it became totalitarian before it became a dictatorship.  As far as I am concerned the crime of Juan Cristobal for which he sort of needed to apologize was not the use of Nazi terminology to describe Chavez actions,  but to use the wrong one: Kristallnacht does not apply, yet.

In other words, being in the XXI century, we cannot go back easily to the gorilla model of years past, which makes dictatorships easily identifiable.  But make no mistake, the one that started officially this week is a bona fide dictatorship because it serves the very purpose of a dictatorship: perpetuate a cast in power.

And of course this implies violence, lots of it.


  1. Juan Cristobal8:46 PM

    I don't find anything in your post that I disagree with, which can only mean I'm not reading it carefully enough!

    Seriously, thanks for the response. I think we agree on a lot of things.

  2. I think the potential for major violence was greater some years back when some in the army could have risen up against him causing a civil war.

    At this point after so much purging Chavez's control over the Army seems uncontested.In addition he has his armed militia in the barrios.The opposition on the other hand is totally disarmed and not practicing any military maneuvers.The most we could expect is for some small pockets of resistance to appear.

    It is probable that there will be increasing repression with more and more people being jailed and some killed.

  3. JC

    My apologies! Next time I'll try to be more controversial.

  4. "In a truly democratic, rule of law, country, Chavez would have been declared a dictator when he forced an unconstitutional referendum in 1999 to change the constitution."

    This. x10. x100. x1000. I think old man Uslar Pietri was bothered the most by this. Of course that's not to say the constitution of '61 wasn't violated throughout it's 40 year existence, but I always associate change of constitution with those caudillos that needed a new piece of paper to wipe their asses with.

  5. Anonymous6:37 AM

    The time to leave Venezuela with anything of substance was several years ago.

    Now you will be lucky to get out with the shirt on your back.

    Venezuela is just another example of where the socialist road leads.

    The golden twin cities of Despotisim, and Misery.

  6. Anonymous7:25 AM

    Chavez would have been declared a dictator when he forced an unconstitutional referendum in 1999 to change the constitution.

    this is what I've been saying all along, but because I'm a simpleton and hold no macro vergatronic Phd's in whatever...I was dismissed.
    glad to see we were on the same lenght.

    the dissolution of Congress and CSJ back in 1999 to enable the "constituyente" was as illegal as they come.
    in my view, the Govt has been an "illegal" one since that date....whatever happened afterwards shouldn't come as any surprise.


  7. Correfoc, Good one!

    A strong belief in authority figures( like those in power or with more education or more status),and the status quo (the usual ways of doing something) is widespread.However in countries with a propensity to authoritarian regimes more people succumb to rigid beliefs.Basically it comes from an under- reliance on one's own ability to make decisions- a lack of inner confidence if you will, and a concomitant hatred or fear of differences that allow opinions not certifiably 'expert 'or common.

    Authoritarianism starts with a simple over reliance on experts.Here you see people always quoting others rather than writing in their own words.Here we see people who prefer to be backed up by groups or important others, rather than stand alone etc.

    Then when authoritarianism progresses we find extremely doctrinaire types who follow the official rules of everything so rigidly that the rules begin to lose any meaning at all.

    After this we might see a highly distrustful individual who projects his own lack of confidence onto the world and sees mostly bad intentions in others.

    The gradation goes on and on til we arrive at some point to full- fledged paranoia.This is what happened in Hitler's Germany.It is what Chavismo is founded on.

    But before we can fix our societies authoritarianism, we have to fix ourselves, and transform every authoritarian thought into inner confidence, and acceptance of differences rather than sticking to the status quo and rigid consensus groupthink

    Every voice is potentially the right voice whether it is acknowledged by society or not.


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