The Mix

Freaky Friday: Venezuela edition

The ole' switcheroo.
All week, I've been discussing Hugo Chavez' Venezuela with a couple of readers, notably Brunowe. In my last post, I argued that we wouldn't be discussing whether Chavez was a small 'd' democrat if not for the fact that he was trying to radically restructure Venezuela's economic and social arrangements - a move that will cost the country's traditional elite power and control over the economy - and calling him "anti-democratic" was more a standard-issue strategy to discredit him than it is a charge reflective of the reality on the ground. I also suggested out that Brunowe was relying too heavily on information from Freedomworks, an organization that Mark Ames conveniently exposed on today's front page.

Brunowe turns out to be Bill Bruno, a reader from Astoria New York, and he's responded to that last post. I figured that turnabout being fair play and all, I'd give him the blog post this time, and I'd take him to task in the comments. If you're just joining in, you'll get more out of Bill's post if you read the previous one, as he responds to specifics.

So, without further ado, reader Bill Bruno on Hugo Chavez:

First, I should say that I don't consider Chavez a tyrant or a dictator. I think he is a genuine populist who, however, has an authoritarian streak, although I think my prior statement: "that he has no vision that goes beyond he himself being the leader" was excessive. I suppose I would say he is a democrat, with reservations.

Chavez's court packing is a little more wide-ranging than what FDR did. Chavez's plan allows him to remove and assign justices with a simple majority, en masse and immediately, in additional to adding 12 new justices. FDR's plan, although not the wisest thing he did, would have allowed him to add a Justice for every sitting one over the age of 70 who didn't retire. Chavez's changes are a heavier blow to the independence of the judiciary.
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.
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