Hugo Chavez wins third term

So, he’s set for the next six years. I don’t suppose anybody expected anything different.

What does this portend for Venezuela’s future? And for the future of U.S.-Venezuelan relations? One really sore point has been Chavez’ alliance with Castro – but does that still matter if Castro dies? Or does it then matter a whole lot more, because who is or is not allied with Cuba might be a factor in determining what comes next there?

Democracy wins and the poor continue to benefit. Can’t see a thing wrong with that.

Whether the US likes it or not is totally irrelevant. The whole New American Century fantasy is dead and buried in the sands of Iraq.

Economic democracy isn’t the whole story, though. The clampdowns on the political freedoms of anti-Chavistas in Venezuela (many of whom are no poster children for freedom and democracy themselves, of course) are definitely worrying, no matter how nice it is that poor Venezuelans are getting better schools and clinics out of the oil money.

In conjunction with the losses of the midterm elections, this has gotta chap Bush’s butt. And that’s a good thing.

Be that as it may – call me a populist or, better yet, a pragmatist, as I think social revolution is inevitable worldwide – forgive me if I am more concerned with the welfare of literally millions than I am with the “political freedoms” of a few billionaires.

Let them private jet to their favorite spot/private island if they are so unhappy.

Fine, but we’re not just talking about a few billionaires when we talk about the downsides of the Chavez administration. When I say “anti-Chavistas”, I don’t mean only the wealthy aristocrats that led the opposition to Chavez; I mean also members of the media and ordinary people who don’t toe his party line.

This Nation article from April 2005, in a solidly left-wing journal that has praised many of Chavez’ economic reforms, points out some of the pluses and minuses of his regime:

Like I say, I think economic democracy and social justice are fine things. But I don’t want American/Western liberals today to fall into the same pitfall that many of them fell into in the early decades of the Soviet Union, when admiration for increased equality and prosperity blinded them to bureaucratic inefficiency, autocratic ruthlessness and disdain for individual rights. We can approve of many of the Chavista economic reforms and social welfare developments without believing that Chavez’ regime is beyond criticism.

As I’ve said before, I see Chavez as a potential “Castro Lite”: genuine ambition for increasing social democracy and egalitarian prosperity, combined with vast personal egotism, self-indulgent autocracy, and indifference to the rights of those who oppose him. Chavez is not in the Castro class at present, but IMHO you don’t have to be a neocon or a Bush supporter to have some serious doubts about him.

I have quite a different picture of both Chavez and LA as a whole – and I live in a Latin American nation. Perhaps this current article does a better job – not to mention, it saves me a ton of time – explaining my own take on the matter than I could:

Latin America Takes Leftward Swing

So, as I said in my last post, I don’t think Chavez is “Castro-light,” but rather the tip of the iceberg in as much as social equality is but a dream in most of Latin America. Again, pragmatically speaking, in order to change the status-quo, you need leaders like Chavez, Morales, Lula, Ortega, López Obrador et al, in order to effect real change, and not the never-ending hollow promises made by literally hundreds of elite-appointed Yes Men.

Enough with the inequality. Enough with the empty promises. Enough with the ever-increasing classism.

And if those men don’t come through on their promises, on to the next set. Until they find someone who will. Being doomed to poverty prior to even being born is simply inhumane. Something’s gotta to give – and the poor have only their miserable lives to give.

So tell me, RedFury, why does Colombia seem to be the odd man out in all this?

Honestly? Don’t have a clue. They are as corrupt as anyone that’s for sure, their main exports being coke and weed.

If I had gander a guess, it may have to do with Uribe’s heavy-handed security approach. To his credit, he seems to have dislodged the FARC from their near stranglehold of many towns and small cities in Colombia. The Cartel’s are still going strong though. Some kind of pact?

At any rate, international observers have certified this election as fair and square. If anyone had any doubt. And the opposition, for once, has not raised any post-election stink about fraud.

We Yanks could learn a thing or two from those primitive, backward Venezuelans.

Well, maybe, if the fifty states were willing to cede their power to conduct elections to the feds, breaking over 200 years of tradition and altering dozens of laws on several levels of government. Best of luck with that!

And national identity cards, within living memory of the Voting Rights Act? Having those damn _______ (fill in party you hate) in Washington running the whole election directly? I don’t think us Yanks would like to follow the Venezuelans with those little gems.

And we had a thread about the purple-finger thing back in '05.

No need to go quite that far. Senators Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton and Rep. Stephanie Jones introduced the Count Every Vote Act (debated in this thread) in 2005. It doesn’t envision the FEC running all elections, only setting standards all state and county election offices will have to meet. Nothing unconstitutional about it, and nothing from which the states could lawfully withhold their consent or with which they could refuse to cooperate.

There’s nothing objectionable about a national ID card so long as it’s available to the voter for free. Or so I’ve argued before.

Interesting. Problem is here, we don’t have electronic voting machines to worry about having a paper trail with or not. The HAVA is funding new electronic machines which are supposed to come in aaaaaany year now–my Dad’s seen prototypes and he’s not impressed, since they have to be massive with small print to hold the full-face ballot mandated by NY state law.

The national ID card–well, the Israelis and Dutch in that thread didn’t seem too put out by it, but for example, in NY, we don’t even have voter ID cards (you take care of all that stuff when you register and all you have to bring to the polls is a smile and the ability to sign your name under your original signature in the register; altho NY used to issue cards, and their tattered remnants are often waved at us but we can’t use them) so it’s a non-problem already for some voters.

I guess the main issue I have with the CEVA is that it seems to assume that every part of the country is having the same problems; some places have already considered and dealt with such things and would see no need to re-tool, probably at great expense, their tried-and-true methods.

Oh yeah, OP–while I’m glad the election was clean, speaking of tools, IMO Chavez is one, as this Dutch article says. By the way, that’s one of the few articles on “Watching America” that doesn’t make us Yanks want to go out weeping, flogging ourselves, to burn the flag. Seriously, if you’re feeling too cocky, just stop by WA and you’ll feel like dirt in three minutes.