Chavez Is Ruling By Decree Archives

January 15, 2007

Geezers, Putschistas & Other LA Stories


In the olden days, the purpose of op-eds was to sit opposite the editorial page and presumably present an alternative view of world affairs than you’d get from that same bunch of geezers who spout the conventional wisdom week in and week out.

The Los Angeles Times seems to be following the lead of crap-tastic opinion pages like the Washington Post with a new take on the old concept: fresh faces that pretty much back the geezers up. Sort of a win-win for those directly involved. The kids get some ink and the geezers look all wise and incontrovertible.

Today, the Times serves up Alexandra Starr, a freelance writer and “former Organization of American States fellow.” Her thesis is that Chavez is only in it for the power (just like, she writes, basically every other president in Venezuelan history), that Venezuelan voters are only in it for the handouts (they, she knows, will turn on him just like all other Venezuelan electorates). Starr is basically saying what 96% of LA Times opinion pieces have said in the last eight years. (We’re not making that number up—there was a study.)

Continue reading "Geezers, Putschistas & Other LA Stories" »

January 16, 2007


In less than 1400 words, Venezuelan-American turned Venezuelan-again writer Eva Golinger clarifies all your questions about recent controversies.

January 18, 2007

Bush Administration Opposes Executive Powers. For Others.

These are the kinds of stories that Voice of America lives for. For those unfamiliar, VOA is the how the U.S. shows the world how journalism is done. Mostly by beaming the views of the administration to other countries, and paying off journalists to act as the Voice of America. Quasi-psuedo-officially-like.

Today, VOA is hot on the Chavez trail. The story opens with the lede “Venezuela's National Assembly has given its initial approval to a measure that would grant President Hugo Chavez the power to rule by decree for 18 months.”

Wow. Stunning. Chavez is going to be the sole arbiter of Venezuelan law for the next year and a half? The rest of the story doesn’t go into any specifics, but we’re left with an impression. The truth, of course, is rather more complex. In fact:

> The Venezuelan Assembly has actually only opened up hearings on the proposed law.

> If approved, the president would be limited in what it could “decree.” Basically overseeing the functions of executive branch agencies. Pretty much the rights that U.S. presidents have always had.

> These powers are already granted by the Venezuelan constitution. And

> This ain’t the first time they’ve been exercised. In fact, the last president of Venezuela activated these powers too.

But I suppose all that sissy “context” is just un-American.

Context Is For Sissies

As we noted below, complexity is for antiamericanterroristfagboys.

And so: AP, UPI , and the ever-crazy NewMax.

January 23, 2007

Great Press Connections Help

So this kind of exaggerated “rule by decree” meme isn’t exactly whipping up the opposition in Venezuela, but that hasn’t stopped Associated Press from posting a major international story out of the, sweartogod, “400 to 500 protesters ,” standing “in a Caracas plaza” today. For real, guys?

Say what you will about the Venezuelan opposition, those guys can organize a massive street presence for the issues that matter to them. This demo, in contrast, is about the size of a pro-terrorist rally staged by the crazy Cubo-Venezuelan community in Miami the other day.

UPDATE: The AP story went wide Wednesday, under even more exxagerated headline, "Throngs in Venezuela Protest Chavez Plan." Throngs!

January 29, 2007

'Enabling' a False Perception

So the Christian Science Monitor notes that Venezuela’s National Assembly will vote tomorrow on the so-called Enabling Law, which they say will grant Chavez “broad powers to pass laws by decree for 18 months.”

Well not exactly. It will be a fun experiment to see whether the ensuing press coverage will note that the measure is limited, Constitutional, and kind of a habit in Venezuela. Similar steps were taken in 1974, 1984, and 1993. My article on the issue, and the press around it, is available here.

Chavez to Be Bestowed with Superhuman Powers


The afternoon reports have hit the wires, and they are extreme.

Remember that enabling law, the one that was used throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, and wasn’t really mentioned in the international press at the time? This time around, it’s apparently going to allow the Venezuelan government to “remake society by presidential decree.” I mean…

Our Associated Press reporter goes to a protest march to sniff out the most high-octane quotes possible. He finds a woman who “can't tolerate Chavez's admirers—even within her own family.” To her, this is the path to communism and dictatorship. Another interviewee, a “son of a Polish concentration camp survivor” (!) explains that Venezuela is now facing totalitarianism.

Yeah, AP eventually quotes fervent Chavez supporters, too. But even they are pretty darned hyperbolic in their support.

But can’t we just get a little context? Oh! Mine is here.

January 30, 2007

Bush to Rule By Decree. America Yawns

The New York Times today reports that the US prez just signed an executive order shifting power to the executive branch in the areas of “public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.”

So what’s the dif between this and what’s happening this week in Venezuela? A few big ones come to mind:

--The president granted this power to himself with an executive order. In Venezuela, certain powers stand to be shifted through a vote in the legislature.

--Venezuela’s decision included weeks of public debate and massive international press scrutiny. Oh, and the Rule of Law. Here at home, the directive was passed quietly last week, and was only reported today for the first time.

--Venezuela’s proposed law is temporary; Bush's power to Rule by Decree will stand until the president decides to overturn his own power, or when hell freezes over. Whichever comes second.

Funnily enough, the Times finds nobody to describe this as totalitarianism, communism or dictatorship. They must’ve been on a tight deadline or something. They did have time to interview a Columbia University professor, who helpfully explains it for us:

"Having lost control of Congress," Mr. Strauss said, "the president is doing what he can to increase his control of the executive branch."

Update: We should note that while the rest of the world press was mesmerized by all the raucous public discussion over Venezuela’s proposed law, it was the diligence of a smaller news outlet that actually caught our own leader getting sneaky. Last week, The New Standard broke this story, and the New York Times played catch-up many days later. Thanks, New Standard, America is grateful, in a materialistic, apathetic sort of way.

January 31, 2007

Celebrity Death Match: Bush Administration


. . .the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, Thomas Shannon, said the law isn't an issue for the United States.

``The enabling law isn't anything new in Venezuela. It's something valid under the constitution,'' Tom Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, told reporters in Colombia.

``As with any tool of democracy, it depends how it is used,'' he added. ``At the end of the day, it's not a question for the United States or for other countries, but for Venezuela.''

In an unprecedented lapse of sanity a Bush Administration official speaks truth to power in a statement that conflicts directly with that of his boss. Only one will survive.

February 1, 2007

Cool Heads Prevail in Land Across the Sea

Thinking more about this posting from yesterday, how crazy bad is the press coverage of Venezuela when the State Department emerges as the voice of reason in this debate? Crazy-crazy bad.

Well thank God for the Guardian. This venerable British standard bearer runs a reasonable and illuminating column on the whole “Rule By Decree” deal. And with a headline that slyly alludes to the great Scott Baio, well, what more could you ask for?

February 2, 2007

The Counter Spin Zone

My mama always said I had a face for radio! My Counter Spin interview will be broadcast next week on over 100 stations across the US and Canada. We discuss Venezuela and the mixed up media messages here in the U.S. You can see if when and where it will be airing in your hometown here. Or if you are an impatient type, you can listen to it right now, here.

The Venezuela discussion starts at the 20-minute mark. But the first half of the show is a tribute to the great Molly Ivins, so check out the whole thing if you can.

February 5, 2007

The Ass Bead Game

Regular readers of the Miami Herald will be surprised to hear that columnist Andres Oppenheimer is ranting against Venezuela. Haha!

Today he waxes hyperbolic about Hugo Chavez (really!), calling him a “narcissist-Leninist elected dictator,” in his super non-narcissistically-titled Oppenheimer Report.

But his essay makes a big non-narcissistic error by saying that the so-called “Rule By Decree” law will enable Venezuela’s president “to sign sweeping economic and political laws, including one allowing for his indefinite reelection.” Not to sound all narcissistically knowledgeable or anything, but that ain’t the case.

For the record, an end to term limits in Venezuela is prohibited under the law. If Venezuelans want to do this, they have to vote on it in a national referendum.

We’re not sure if this knowledge would bring the author pain or happiness, but that sort of worldly introspection is better left to the Goldmund-Leninist types anyway.

Department of Credit Where Credit is Due

Yeah, he’s made some inaccurate statements, but we have to give Andres Oppenheimer some props for pointing out a long-missed fact:

In Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe got extraordinary powers from Congress in 2001 to expand his military powers in 2002 to negotiate with paramilitary groups, and in 2004 to sign decrees with the rank of laws to rule on administrative matters. Critics say Uribe is the strongest president Colombia has had in recent history.

Holy crap! America’s bestest ally in South America has been Ruling by Decree throughout the 21st century. Who knew? I mean, besides the Colombians, who’ve long had to live with Latin America’s worst murder rate and human rights record, and now, it turns out, with its most authoritarian government, too.

I must have been drunk in the early ‘00s to have missed all the reports of the Colombian dictatorship/terrorist state in the making.

February 8, 2007

“I’m a Prick, and My Editor Made Me Do This”

You can tell a lot about the character of a journalist by the way they correct their own errors.

Apparently the VIO requested a correction of Andres Oppenheimer’s allegation the other day that the so-called “Rule By Decree” law allows Chavez “to sign sweeping economic and political laws, including one allowing for his indefinite reelection.” And so, today we get this:

Post script: The Venezuela Information Office, which according to its website is funded by the Venezuelan government, says I incorrectly stated in my last column that a new ''enabling law'' will allow President Hugo Chávez to, among other things, call a referendum to change the Constitution and allow his indefinite reelection. Indeed, Chávez has repeatedly said he will do that, but this is unrelated to the new law.

So, he uses his retraction to get a little dig in against those who pointed it out. And, he totally misrepresents his original statement. If he’d mentioned the referendum in the first place, nobody would have been asking for a retraction. Now, I’m no psychoanalyst, but this “correction” sheds a little light on Mr. Oppenheimer’s personality.

How old are we, dude, twelve?

February 9, 2007

Isn’t the Washington Post Supposed to be Doing This Sort of Thing?

This week, Gregory Wilpert published the first in a series of nuanced analyses of the major press storylines on Venezuela. He bites off a big topic--the so-called “Rule by Decree” law--and chews it to its tootsie-roll center. This is a must-read for anyone interested in what’s really happening in the BoRev.

February 14, 2007

Department of Corrections: LA Times

Are you paying attention, Miami Herald? Today the LA Times shows the State Department’s favorite newspaper how to write a correction:

Venezuela: An editorial Saturday said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was expected to use his newly granted powers to make law by decree to abolish presidential term limits. Although Chavez has stated his intention to seek an end to term limits, he does not have the power to do so on his own; such a change would require a national referendum.

February 18, 2007

Kinda-Sorta Balance

The Los Angels Times condescends to allow the Venezuelan government tell its side of the story. But only in the online edition.

February 19, 2007

A Pop Quiz

Question: Which South American president gags newspapers from reporting on corruption, jails journalists without trial, gives himself the power to rule by decree, overrides Supreme Court decisions by fiat, refers to human rights monitors as “political agitators in the service of terrorism,” and amends the Constitution to allow himself a new term?

Answer: Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe. Last week Condoleezza Rice praised Uribe’s “commitment to social, economic and judicial reform that she hoped would improve the lives of all Colombians” as the U.S. pledged an additional 3.9 billion dollars in “aid” to South America’s most repressive regime.

Just sayin'.

May 1, 2007

Everyone’s Doing It

You may have missed this in the non-flurry of press apathy last week, but Peru’s Congress granted Alan Garcia powers to rule by decree for the next six months. But don’t worry! He won’t use it against multinational oil interests. Just peasant farmers and trade unions and “criminals,” however he defines them.

About Chavez Is Ruling By Decree

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to BoRev.Net in the Chavez Is Ruling By Decree category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Chavez is Crazy is the previous category.

Closing Media Outlets is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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