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Chavez – Is the Worst Yet to Come?

One of the most common characteristics of the authoritarian personalities who end up becoming dictators is their refusal to see themselves as fallible human beings, capable of mistakes or misjudgements. Hugo Chavez is not yet a dictator but he is … Read More

By / December 4, 2007

One of the most common characteristics of the authoritarian personalities who end up becoming dictators is their refusal to see themselves as fallible human beings, capable of mistakes or misjudgements. Hugo Chavez is not yet a dictator but he is behaviour has created justifiable concern that he may be heading in that direction. His acceptance of defeat in the referendum indicates he is willing to play by some of the rules of democracy but his reaction to that loss is yet more evidence of his disturbed personal and political personality. 

Because, in his search for blame, Chavez points the finger at almost everyone except himself. Unable to accept that maybe, just maybe, people felt that term limits are a sensible part of the checks and balances of a democracy, unwilling to consider that his demagogic rhetoric about no-voting "traitors", "fascists" and "mental retards" who were "voting for Bush" smacked of both desperation and lack of respect for the Venezuelan people, Il Presidente is now pointing the finger closer to home.

 

"Chavez, who met government advisors and military commanders outside Caracas to wait for the results, said congress hindered the plan's passage by splitting it into two blocks, the Caracas- based daily reported, citing the unidentified witnesses. Chavez also said his Venezuelan Unified Socialist Party lacked leadership, Nacional reported.

 

So congress and the party to blame – hmm, when a generalissimo starts to attack his own party and a congress it controls, you sense that there may be trouble on the horizon.

And of course, it is not just his closest political allies who are to blame: "Maybe the nation needs to mature more before we construct socialism," he said.

In both cases, Chavez, who has followed the classic authoritarian-demagogic approach of creating an external foreign threat, a fantastical fear of invasion, is indicating that only he is capable of carrying the country on the path towards ‘socialism'. The party and congress can't be trusted and the people are immature – no wonder he finds it so important to centralise power in his own hands and keep it until "until the last bone of my skeleton dries up."

The danger in all of this is, of course, that after a period of licking his wounds, Chavez comes back determined to press on with his authoritarian agenda (he has already said the proposals are halted only "for now") but also with little or no respect for his allies who he now views with suspicion, especially as some key figures switched to the No vote during the campaign. 

Chavez certainly believes he represents ‘the people" (in the crude communist sense of the term) and it is only a short step from his current rhetoric to start to view any political obstacles as "anti-people".

Add to the mix an opposition emboldened by their triumph and increasingly led by the radical and active student movement (as opposed to compromised old-school politicians) and there is potential for some very hot days indeed in Venezuela. 

Those who view Chavez's reluctant acceptance of the ‘No' as proof that he is a democrat and not a dictator are only half right – he is still not yet a dictator.

(Footnote: One wonders what contortions the Cuban media had to go through in reporting the Chavez defeat. After all, the line from US sympathisers "Look, he is a democrat!" doesn't quite work as well in Cuba does it? "It was a 'veni, vidi, vinci' of dignity and ethics," said Castro. Well Fidel, when are you going to offer the Cuban people a vote on, well, anything?)

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