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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:11 AM
Original message
Colombia: Vote Sought to Permit 3rd Presidential Term
Source: NY Times/Reuters

July 23, 2008
Colombia: Vote Sought to Permit 3rd Presidential Term

Supporters of President lvaro Uribe of Colombia are pushing for a referendum that would permit him to run for a third term to continue his fight against Marxist guerrillas. Polls indicate that if Mr. Uribe were to run for re-election in 2010, he would easily win. But he is limited to two terms. To permit him to legally seek a third term, Congress would have to approve a referendum and voters would then have to agree to change the Constitution. We plan to introduce the bill before September, once we have gathered five million signatures supporting the referendum, said Senator Carlos Garca, the leader of the Party of National Social Unity, which backs Mr. Uribe.

Read more:

Previously posted by DU'er magbana:

COLOMBIA: URIBE Wants to Repeat 2006 Election Amid a Bribery Scandal
Colombia's Uribe calls for vote

President Alvaro Uribe gestures during a speech in Bogota, 26 June 2008
Mr Uribe and his government have denied offering bribes to lawmakers

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has called for a referendum to determine if there should be a new presidential poll amid a bribery scandal.

The move comes after the Supreme Court called for an investigation into the legality of his re-election in 2006.

A former politician had been convicted of taking a bribe to support the constitutional reform that granted Mr Uribe an unprecedented second term.

Mr Uribe enjoys a high popularity rating in Colombia.

"I am going to convene Congress so that it can produce as swiftly as possible legislation on a referendum, that would call the people to repeat the 2006 presidential election," Mr Uribe said in a nationally broadcast radio and television address.

"The right path has to be democratic rule," he said.
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Dogtown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:45 AM
Response to Original message
1. bushista!
fascists are emboldened all over the planet.
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:46 AM
Response to Original message
2. When Uribe does it, it's "Democracy in Action!"
When Chavez does it, he's a tyrant and a dictator. Go figure.
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druidity33 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:48 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. excellent point! K&R nt
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pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Here at DU the sentiment is likely the opposite. When Chavez does it,
it's "Democracy in Action!" When Uribe does it, he's a tyrant and a dictator. Go figure.

A discussion of the wisdom extending the number of terms a president can serve never seems to happen. It is most often: "If it is OUR guy, then the more terms the better. If it is THEIR guy, how dare he want another term in office."
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endarkenment Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:42 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. I simply want to see those who denounced Chavez as a dictator
for trying to do exactly this also denounce Uribe. I actually have no problem with Colombia repealing its term limits and re-electing Uribe as long as that is done through a fair and open electoral process. I continue to think that Uribe is a rightwingtard thug, but if the people of Colombia want a rightwingtard thug with ties to death squads and the cocaine mafia as their president, that is their business.

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pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:33 AM
Response to Reply #6
15. That's fine. I simply want to point out that we always want those who complain
about OUR guy to admit to their hypocrisy when THEIR guy does the same thing. I will admit that I am not much prone to admit my own hypocrisy when I complain about THEIR guy and the MY guy goes and does the same thing. (In this situation, if I had blasted Uribe for seeking a third term, then excused MY guy for doing the same thing - presumably because it is "different" when my guy does it.)

I lived in the Philippines in the seventies when Marcos declared martial law after two terms as president. It causes me to worry when any president, constitutionally limited to two terms, decides that he is the only one who can run the country, so that the constitution needs to be amended so that he can stay in power. I wonder how many presidents who have succeeded in acquiring third terms in such a manner ended up staying in office indefinitely (what's wrong with a fourth term or a fifth term or, in the case of Mugabe, an eighth term?) since the love of power is a hard thing to let go of.
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plasticsundance Donating Member (786 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:12 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. And the investigation into the paramilitaries in Colombia ...
and the Colombian Congress' involvement into paramilitaries? How's that going? You know, the investigation where Uribe is intimidating the Colombian Judicial branch into closing down the investigations into the matter.

I think we're all well aware of the ill-informed Chavez DUers posting what amounts to non-information.
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plasticsundance Donating Member (786 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:58 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. Oopsy daisie ... my bad ...
I think we're all well aware of the ill-informed Chavez DUers posting what amounts to non-information.

I meant - I think we're all well aware of the ill-informed Chavez opposers at DU posting what amounts to non-information.
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:00 AM
Response to Reply #4
11. from a conservative perspective... sure
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
34. I was just about to mention that.
I don't like Chavez but Uribe doesn't seem much better at all, despite what the corporate media says.
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endarkenment Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:37 AM
Response to Original message
5. I expect the Capitalista Gang to come forward to denounce
Uribe as a dictator. It would be the only honorable thing to do.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:51 AM
Response to Original message
7. Oh my God! He wants to be dictator for life!
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:39 AM
Response to Original message
9. Tyrant! Dictator! 'PRESIDENT FOR LIFE!' Oh, oops....
This is 'our' guy. You can tell because nearly forty union leaders were tortured and murdered this year alone by rightwing death squads closely tied to the Colombian government and military, and 'we' are larding them with $5.5 BILLION in military aid as a reward. Brutal oppression = democracy. Natch. Freedom = the freedom to loot (--Donald Rumsfeld*).

And, hey, this time Uribe's going to let the people vote on it--like Hugo Chavez did.

That's better than what Uribe did last time (bribed legislators to extend his term--one of them is in jail for it). Colombia is IMPROVING! Colombia is IMPROVING! Colombia is IMPROVING, IMPROVING, IMPROVING! Only 39 union leaders slaughtered. Wow! The "surge" is working! And since they are running out of union leaders, leftist candidates**, community organizers, small peasant farmers, human rights workers and journalists to kill, this vote will be real peaceful--like the votes they have in Venezuela, where nobody gets tortured and killed for voting against the government.

So, not to worry! Uribe being a tyrant, a dictator, and 'president for life' won't mean that Colombia is not a democracy, cuz 'everybody' will vote for him except the poor cowering in their hovels, who fear a bullet through the head, and what do they know about freedom and democracy? They're just stupid peasants like the voters in Venezuela who are bleeding those paragons of freedom and democracy at Exxon Mobil of the profits needed to buy U.S. Congresses, and wasting it on education and medical care and loans to small business and roads and bridges and hospitals and the Venezuelan Children's Orchestra! Gawd! What a waste of voting machines!

Heh, heh.


*"The Smart Way to Beat Tyrants Like Chvez," by Donald Rumsfeld, 12/1/07

**29 political candidates murdered in Colombia last year, almost twice as many as were murdered in 2003.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:26 AM
Response to Reply #9
14. Now that I've got that off my chest (Bushite propaganda drives me nuts),
I want to mention the larger picture in South America, re Uribe engineering a third term.

Recently, the presidents of Venezuela and Brazil have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to tug Uribe away from the Bushites and from the most extreme fascist elements in the Colombia military, and into the orbit of the new South American "Common Market"--UNASUR. Colombia's Uribe and Hugo Chavez met in Caracas the other week to "bury the hatchet" and announce several joint ventures (including a new railroad between their countries). Chavez then visited the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa (who is aggrieved against Uribe--see below) to convince him to re-establish diplomatic relations with Colombia. Meanwhile, Lula da Silva met with Uribe to discuss Brazil's proposed common defense (in the context of the "Common Market"). Advances in South American economic and political integration have often hinged upon fraternal pressure on countries that the Bush Junta were bribing and bullying with U.S.-dominated "free trade," World Bank loans, and militarization funds ("war on drugs"). In several instances, fraternal pressure has worked (Uruguay, Paraguay--in fact, in Paraguay it resulted in a strong leftist being elected president this year, overturning 61 years of fascist rule). In one it didn't (Peru--but Peruvian voters will likely take care of that in the next election). The advantages of integration are very great; the downsides of Bushite policy are nakedly apparent, everywhere.

Why would Chavez and da Silva care a crap about Uribe, and try to bolster him up--after what he did to Chavez and to the president of Ecuador, re the successful leftist hostage negotiations with the FARC? (--with U.S./Bush help, he bombed/raided Ecuador and killed the chief FARC hostage negotiator, who was about to release Ingrid Betancourt, in Ecuador, in March.) Chavez has done this before--tried to befriend Uribe after some Uribe treachery--to my surprise. Well, a NAME got attached to this question last week when Uribe met with Chavez: Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos. Santos publicly criticized the Uribe-Chavez meeting. Chavez reacted (told Uribe to reign in his defense minister). And Uribe issued a statement basically telling Santos to shut up.

Chavez described Santos as a "threat." I think the threat is an all-out military dictatorship in Colombia, with Colombia used as a launching pad for a Rumsfeldian plan to instigate fascist secessionist civil war in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia (splitting the oil-rich provinces off into fascist mini-states in control of the oil). There is plenty of evidence for this Bushite scheme, which I won't go into here--except to mention that the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has talked about it publicly; it is an in-progress Bushite scheme currently in Bolivia; and the Bushites have reconstituted the U.S. 4th Fleet in the Caribbean, which will be roaming off the coast of Venezuela this summer (near the Venezuelan coastal state of Zulia, where all the oil is; Zulia is adjacent to Colombia, and Zulia's fascists have already met with Colombia officials to discuss secession).

Exxon Mobil (the U.S.) can't win fair and honest elections in South America. And South America's many leftist governments are unified enough now that they are not easy to topple in the traditional ways (i.e., the Bush-supported rightwing military coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, or the crippling oil professionals' strike just after that, or the assassination plot against Chavez hatched within the Colombian military--that sort of thing). Those tactics have not worked. Thus, the plan to foment civil war and secession in the oil-rich states. At the least, it will cause major trouble--destabilization, a drain on the resources of leftist governments (as it is doing in Bolivia). At best--from the Bushite point of view--it will gain them fascist control of major oil reserves, and deny benefit of those profits to the poor majorities of the oil-rich countries and to their governments, which are using the profits for social justice programs and to promote South American integration and self-determination.

It would be a major coup for Rumsfeld & co., for instance, for the fascist plotters in Zulia to declare their "independence" from the Chavez government, and for Bush (now) or Obama (later--yup, quite likely) to lend U.S. military support to their cause. With Colombian military/paramilitary collusion, Blackwater and other mercenary involvement, arming of local fascists, and U.S. military backup, it is not at all outside the realm of feasibility. They would then invite Exxon Mobil back in, and revert to the 10/90 split of the profits that the oil giants had before Chavez. It would cripple the Chavez government, and, at the least, cause great turmoil.

In his Dec 07 op-ed in the Washington Post*, Donald Rumsfeld urges just this: "Swift action" by the U.S. in support of "friends and allies" in South America. The Bushites don't have any "friends and allies" in South America, except for the fascist thugs and drug traffickers running Colombia, and the fascist cells within leftist democracies, plotting coups and secessions. I think this is what Rumsfeld meant by "swift action"--U.S. military action in support of secessionists.

Colombia is the odd man out, in South America--a fascist, Bush-supported dinosaur in the midst of the overwhelmingly leftist trend all over the continent. It is important, therefore, that the forms of democracy be preserved in Colombia, so that there is some accountability, some hope for change, and avenues of trade and communication. If Colombia were to shut down under a military dictatorship, funded by the U.S. ($5.5 BILLION so far), and Colombian economic policy were to be run from Washington DC (if Congress passes the Colombia/U.S. "free trade" deal), this would not only pose a serious security threat to Colombia's neighbors, and to all of South America (and Central America), but it also could mean serious economic impacts: for instance, corporate biofuels from Colombia (where union leaders are regularly murdered, and the environment trashed) could be dumped on the market at cheap prices, destroying the more labor- and environment-friendly markets of Brazil and other leftist countries (where there is more accountability to the people).

This is exactly what Donald Rumsfeld proposes in that same op-ed*--the Colombia/U.S. "free trade" deal as economic warfare.

The U.S. is a stumbling giant, with a $10 trillion deficit and a crumbling middle class, and is fast becoming the biggest "banana republic" on earth. It not in Colombia's interest to remain a client state of the U.S. Santos could force it to be. He and the Colombian military (and paramilitaries) are the most direct beneficiaries of the U.S. $5.5 BILLION, with much reason to resist integration with the rest of South America (--although blowback--the Colombian military turning around and defending South American interests-- would certainly parallel other Bush Cartel disasters). Continued (if tentative) civilian control of Colombia is the best circumstance that can be hoped for, presently, for eventual integration of Colombia and the greater good of the continent.

This is why Lula da Silva and Hugo Chavez are extending a hand to Uribe, despite all his treachery, and his ties to death squads and drug trafficking, election fraud and other fascist activities and crimes. He is better than Santos. (Analogy: Who would you rather have as president of the U.S.--Bush or Rumsfeld?)


*"The Smart Way to Beat Tyrants Like Chvez," by Donald Rumsfeld, 12/1/07
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
12. Well... if the Majority Does Choose This, Then It's Democratic
it will be interesting to watch to see what Colombia decides as a whole, I hope..
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 01:48 PM
Response to Reply #12
20. Who knows how the majority would vote, if the death squads (euphemistically called paramilitaries)
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 01:49 PM by Judi Lynn
STAYED OUT of the voting places! There are more than enough reports on their heavy presence there to convince anyone, once he sees the evidence:
COLOMBIA: "Mark Him on the Ballot - The One Wearing Glasses"
By Constanza Vieira

The odd thing was that in both the 2002 and 2006 elections, despite the fact that the villagers had already decided to vote for Uribe, the far-right paramilitaries, who had committed a number of murders since 1998, when they appeared in the region that was previously dominated by the leftwing guerrillas, pressured the local residents to vote for Uribe anyway.

The paramilitaries did not kill people to pressure the rest to vote for Uribe, as they did in other communities, but merely used "threats," said L.

"If you don't vote for Uribe, you know what the consequences will be," the villagers were told ominously.

And on election day, they breathed down voters necks: "This is the candidate youre going to vote for. Youre going to put your mark by this one. The one wearing glasses," they would say, pointing to Uribes photo on the ballot, L. recalled.

"One (of the paramilitaries) was on the precinct board, another one was standing next to the table, and another was a little way off, all of them watching to see if you voted for Uribe," she added, referring to the less than subtle way that the death squads commanded by drug traffickers and allies of the army ensured that L.s village voted en masse for the current president in both elections.

"We form part of a municipality where there is corruption, from the mayor to town councillors, the police, the army and the justice officials -- in a word, everyone. They are just one single corrupt mass. So what are you supposed to do?" said L., who added that the paramilitaries "control everything."


So, if the right-wing decides against bribing the senators again this time to secure Uribe's re-election, and puts it up to the vote of the people, there will still be the death squads hovering over the voting booths! In the past, they have been reported actually going right into the booths themselves WITH the voters to help them vote!
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. But Of Course, Judi....
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 02:14 PM by fascisthunter
when I say majority I mean a majority who freely decides without the right wing using the tactics you just outlined.

Something tells me it won't be a free fair decision, that's why I said I will watch this with interest to see what happens.

I come to DU for information but I also come here for comraderie with other Progressives and Democrats. That is after all why this web site was created so we Progressives could get together and get away from right wing garbage, yet they come here as well and all too often are allowed to pollute DU with lies and spin. Why it's tolerated is a complete mystery to me. If it weren't for you and a handful of others, I probably wouldn't come here at all, because their crap would go mainly unchallenged. If I wanted to read right wing propaganda I would just turn on Fox or any other right wing fascist controlled media outlet.

Thank you for what you do.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #21
26. You're undoubtedly speaking for all of the progressive and Democrats.
Without hesitation, we all migrated here believing this was going to be the place the name suggests, where we would be among like-minded people, PERIOD.

Places catering to, you know, the, uh, uh, uh, " the intelligencia," were already available, elsewhere.

If it weren't for you, and other true progressives, Democrats, I wouldn't be interested, I'll tell you that! Like you, if I wanted to wallow among bulging-eyed, overheated, over-focused, information-deprived, mouth-breathing gentlemen and gentlewomen, I would definitely know where to start looking. (It's sad when enough of them collect here that it seems we've come to the wrong place! Fortunately that doesn't happen too often.)

Thank you for your presence here. I always, ALWAYS make sure not to miss your posts.
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:47 PM
Response to Reply #26
28. Thank You Judi...
I hope some day to shake your hand for helping me understand what's going on in South America.

Off topic, but I was watching a program called "behind bars abroad"?, where two US citizens were jailed for carrying lots of coke through customs in an air port, most of which they didn't know about. What amazed me, was how kind her inmates and gaurds were. They both were released after two+ years in jail due to an angel... I forget her name now, but from what I remember, she is an attorney who helps foreigners who get up caught up in drug trafficing.

One of the two went back to Ecuadore to visit the inmates and the guards....! She went on to be a humanitarian and I believe she is now in Africa doing good deeds for the poor. Amazing story...

People do influence others... you too are a great influence here on DU. I now spend free time reading about South America.

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Wow! I saw some of a program exactly like that, too! Could be the same one.
They treated them with complete respect. It was as though their stay there was simply as if they were staying there because they had been told they must until they had fulfilled the orders of the court and could go home.

There was NO stigma attached to them, they were so relaxed, and calm. I remember feeling completely perplexed about this. No doubt you've seen MSNBC's new night-time and weekend passion, "All Prisoners All The Time" shows, which reminds one of nothing more than the old days in England when they opened the looney bin, "Bedlam" to the public on weekends, and charged them fees so they could walk through, as if at a side-show, or a zoo, and see all the funny nutty people. At some point in England, they had an awakening and realized this was exploiting the infirm, the helpless people there, and they ended the practise.)

It was very thought-provoking, as the program pointed out directly, by showing, that there is ANOTHER way to deal with non-violent people who are caught in non-violent crimes.

I didn't get to see the entire show. I'm glad you provided the later information.

As for reading more, wanting to know more, you've got company. I know this is a new experience for MANY of us.
We are some of the people who somehow have discovered just enough to learn how massive the lies are we have been fed. Once you really know this, you CAN'T go back, can you? You can never return to that state of deep ignorance in which you languished before small facts started breaking through the fog!

I can't begin to imagine how stupid people have to be to fight so wildly to maintain the lies the propagandists have thoughtfully crafted for their own interests. I imagine we get some professional truth fighters, disinformation spewers here from time to time. Nothing else would explain it. People are not naturally that stupid!
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. I Was Wrong about the Title, Judi
it's called "Locked Up Abroad".

Here's a link:

Here's a clip of the show:

Those two were very fortunate...
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. Thanks for posting this site. It's very helpful, absolutely.
I can't remember the people in the partial program I saw, as I didn't see the beginning, saw only some from the jail, and the inmates, and their conversations. This looks like a good one. I'll bet it gets re-run. All the cable shows get looped around a lot.

Thanks. :hi:
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. First Time for me was That Show
Not bad...

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WriteDown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:05 AM
Response to Original message
13. Bad when Chavez does it...
bad when Uribe does it. Bad when anybody does this.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. How about FDR--who ran for and won FOUR terms in office...
and died in his fourth term? (He was "president for life.")

It was a U.S. Republican scheme in the 1950s, to ram through a 2-term limit on the president, so that no "New Deal" would ever be possible again, and so they could begin to dismantle the one they've hated so much.

Most of our Founders opposed term limits as undemocratic. They felt that the people should be able to vote for whomever they wish to hold public office.

And in fair and honest, and transparent, conditions, why shouldn't they?

The trouble is, in Colombia, political leftists, union leaders and other community organizers are routinely murdered, creating conditions of extreme intimidation against voters, and opposition candidates and organizers. 29 political candidates were murdered in last year's elections. Further, the FARC guerrillas still control 20% to 30% of Colombia. These are by no means fair and honest, and transparent, conditions.

Venezuela, by contrast, has NO political murders. The opposition operates freely, says what it likes, runs candidates, organizes street protests, and sometimes wins--for instance, they narrowly defeated the Chavistas' recent proposal of 69 constitutional amendments, one of which was to remove the term limit on presidents. Chavez and his government took the defeat gracefully, and moved on (although they would have been within their rights to challenge it--it was so close). And Venezuela's vote counting system puts our own to shame, for its transparency.

So, I can say, with confidence, that, whatever Venezuelan voters are voting on, it is more than likely a true expression of the will of the people. I think that what the people were expressing in the constitutional referendum was their objection to the confusion of 69 amendments, on many different issues--including, for instance, equal rights for gays and women (in a Catholic country, with particularly rightwing clergy). It was an up or down vote on the package of amendments. About 10% of normally pro-Chavez voters voted no, or sat on their hands. But, whatever they were objecting to, there is simply no question that everyone was free to discuss it, without fear, and the vote counting was TRANSPARENT.

If the Chavistas come back with a one-issue amendment on the term limit, for a vote of the people--which they very well might do--then we will see clearly what Venezuelans think of terms limits, and whether they want Chavez to run again. The Bushites have poured millions of U.S taxpayer dollars (through USAID-NED and other budgets) into rightwing groups in Venezuela. We are funding and organizing the opposition there. Venezuela's democratic institutions have been strong enough to elect and re-elect Chavez as president, to turn back a U.S.-supported recall election against him, and to elect a pro-Chavez legislature as well--despite relentless Bushite hostility and plotting. That says a lot about Venezuela's democracy. It is not perfect. But it is in good working order.

The dangers of long presidencies--or long time rule by one party--are obvious: entrenched power, corruption, tyranny. In the many countries with no term limit on the president (like our own used to be), the benefits of long rule (such as FDR having time to implement the New Deal) must be weighed against the downsides: possible abuse of power, and political dependence on one personality. There have been no serious charges of abuse of power against Chavez (they have all been debunked, to my satisfaction--mere Bushite, rightwing propaganda). But he has been criticized--by left and right--for "cult of personality" politics. What happens to the Bolivarian Revolution without Chavez?

One test of how serious this danger is in Venezuela, is the Chavez government's efforts at widespread citizen participation. They cannot be faulted on this score. They've done everything they can to increase citizen participation--from their strenuous efforts to eliminate illiteracy to giving away power over federal funds to local communities to their printing and distribution of millions of copies of the Constitution. It's pretty clear to me that Chavez is as much the product of a vast, successful, GRASS ROOTS social justice movement, as he is a leader of it. He holds power because of this movement. He has not seized power over it. And, indeed, he would be powerless today--and possibly dead--if the people of Venezuela had not rescued him from the 2002 coup attempt.

Yes, "personality" has always been a problem in politics. It has been since the dawn of humanity. It is not going to go away. What are the "checks and balances" is the question to ask? How is personal ambition constrained by law? And also, what does a popular leader seek, or, if he/she seeks more power, what is it for?

FDR was a strong leader. Was that bad? The left needs strong leaders to counter the entrenched power of what FDR called "organized money." That's how I see Chavez. He is ambitious, visionary and powerful. And he has been running a beneficial government for ten years, with scrupulous adherence to the rule of law. A strong leader? Yes. A tyrant? No. Should he continue? I don't know. That's up to the Venezuelan voters.

In Uribe's case, however, I don't trust their election system. I don't think it's possible to know what most Colombians want. But I do see one advantage of a Uribe third term--even if it's achieved by crooked means. It's better than a military dictatorship--which is a real threat in Colombia.
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WriteDown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. You do realize that FDR was the ONLY president....
to serve more that 2 terms? It was a gentleman's agreement that presidents would only serve 2 terms prior to the 22nd amendment. I think a few may have tried such as grant. I'm pretty sure even ancient Greece and Rome had term limits too.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #18
35. And thank God he COULD! FDR had two enormous crises to solve, the Great Depression
and then the simultaneous, massive aggression of two imperial powers on different sides of the planet. The country was in financial ruin when he was first elected--from exactly the same sort of heartless, treasonous looting by the filthy rich and market speculators that the Bush Junta has encouraged. The country desperately needed FDR's "New Deal" programs and his whiplash over "organized money" (as FDR called it), and the voters gave him time to implement these policies, and were able to do so because there was no term limit. Meanwhile, Hitler was running rampant over Europe, England was near collapse and Japan attacked Peal Harbor. The courage that faced down "organized money" ("Organized money hates me--and I welcome their hatred!" --Franklin Delano Roosevelt) then was brought to bear in a multi-front war that had to be won, or democracy and progressive government might well have passed out of this world.

The only comparable crisis ever faced by the U.S. was the civil war--and a bullet settled that term limit issue. Reconstruction might have worked, had Lincoln continued in office--and not left us with a putrid legacy of segregation and the Ku Klux Klan that it took another 100 years to undo.

South America faces a great crisis--comparable to the Great Depression--as the result of decades of brutal suppression of democracy, and the last two decades of "neo-liberalism" (looting and plundering of the poor all over South and Central America). This is the sort of situation in which term limits on a good, strong, popularly elected leader may be bad--because term limits may prevent sufficient recovery measures and they favor the entrenched rich, who just pass the presidency back and forth among pretend opposition parties. And that WAS the situation in South America, prior to the election of all of these leftist governments--entrenched economic and political power, with no entre whatsoever for the the poor MAJORITY.

That was the situation faced by Chavez, when he was first elected.

That is the situation that Evo Morales currently faces.

That is the situation of the newly elected president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa.

That is the situation of the newly elected president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo.

This is the situation of the newly elected president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.

It is an endemic situation in South and Central America, that these new, or relatively new, leftist governments are addressing with fundamental, structural, constitutional changes, reorienting government toward the interests of the MAJORITY. They need TIME to do this. The rich have money and entrenched power. The poor need TIME--to unravel that entrenched power of the rich, and create a more balanced, equitable society.

And when you add in the Bush Junta's extreme hostility to these DEMOCRATIC governments, and their continual plotting, destabilization efforts, funding of rightwing groups and war schemes, the new South American leaders face a DOUBLE crisis, much like the one faced by FDR.

If Obama turns out to be a real reformer--like FDR--I would favor removing the term limit on him. I don't think he is a real reformer. But we shall see. The Bushites have inflicted so much damage on our government, our economy and our society--much like the damage inflicted by Harding, Coolidge and Hoover--that it will take decades to recover from it, if we ever do. If we find the right leader to lead us out of this horror, why should we not be able to re-elect him or her as many times as we wish?

That is the key to the term limits discussion--fair, honest, TRANSPARENT elections. If we had the latter, we would have never suffered Bush, nor would we be beset with fears that he and Cheney won't leave the White House. They've made our election system even worse--totally non-transparent, run by Bushite corporations with 'TRADE SECRET' code! Jeez. What stupids we have been! But if we are ever to climb out of this nightmare, and find ourselves a president with vision like FDR and who believes in the rule of law, I say KEEP 'IM!

Venezuela has transparent elections--a vote counting system that puts our own to shame. The opposition is free to say whatever they want, run candidates for office, hold street demonstrations, raise money, buy ads, and, indeed, controls about 75% of the news media, which relentlessly rants against the Chavez government (much like the press did against FDR). Colombia has rampant death squads who tortured and murdered 39 union leaders this year alone. 29 political candidates were murdered last year, in the Colombian by-elections. Colombia's election system is riddled with fear and intimidation. It is not likely to produce an accurate result as to what Colombians think of the presidential term limit, or anything else.

The two situations are very different. There are many solid reasons to trust Venezuela's election results, and not to trust Colombia's.

To me, this is crucial. If Venezuelans have a clear vote on the presidential term limit (not mixed in with 68 other issues--some of them very controversial--as it was before), and they say yes, fine. Chavez can run again, and we can believe the results. But Uribe's term limit--after he already bribed legislators to extend his term of office--and given conditions in Colombia? I wouldn't trust that result. It could be true (for instance, if Colombians fear an outright military dictatorship, they might flock to Uribe and want him to run again). But we have no way of knowing for sure what the will of the Colombian voters is.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:24 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. Thank god you took the time to write this out. Going to re-read this later tonight. Truly valuable

If only it would encourage some of the quick take artists to start trying to understand what it is they're attempting to discuss!
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WriteDown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 09:13 AM
Response to Reply #35
39. I remember someone else who was a die-hard proponent
of repealing the 22nd amendment, Ronald Reagan. So the Civil War is the only comparable crisis? I'd say the birth or the country under George Washington trumps that and he only stayed two terms(setting the precedent). You could also make an argument that the cold war and the threat of nuclear annihilation could have been used by Reagan to stay 3 or 4 terms. Sorry, I don't bend the rules based on idealogy. Term limits are a good idea. By the way, you should travel throughout those countries in Latin America that you are spouting off about. I have and I can say that there are no good parties to be praised. Nicaraugua in particular is an amazing country and I could recommend a little open air restaurant near the jungle.
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pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Changing constitutions to allow a president to run for a third term is almost always a bad
idea. The president, and his supporters, spread the message that only he can protect the country and/or continue the policies of his party and administration.

There must, apparently, be no other senior party politician (vice president, senator, governor, etc.) or up and coming younger person with similar political views that can be trusted to whom the country can be trusted. (Heck, even Putin was able to find such a person in Russia. How hard can it be?) And if there is no "qualified" successor now, it is unlikely there will be after his third term, or the fourth, etc., so the president becomes a "president for life".

While there may be the occasional benevolent "president for life" my guess is that history is strewn with many, many more who simply got used to power and didn't want to give it up. Most of us would believe that FDR was a benevolent one (though the constitution didn't have to be changed, just the tradition of two term limits), but most would agree that Mugabe is not someone who is doing wonders for Zimbabwe.

Unfortunately I think there have been many more "Mugabes" (well maybe not quite as bad as him - that's a tall order - but interested more in power than in the welfare of their citizens) than "FDRs" in the history of presidents who successfully achieved terms beyond the limit in force at the time they assumed office. It would be interesting to see a historical analysis of how many such presidents went on to become classical dictators and how many eventually left office due to electoral decisions.

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cobalt1999 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #13
19. Agree.
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bdamomma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
22. oh please do not give our regime any ideas please.
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Freddie Stubbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:16 PM
Response to Original message
23. Sounds like he is trying to pull a Chavez
Hopefully the voters of Colombia will make the same smart choice that Venezuela's voters did.
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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Chavez is going to give it another go as well, voters be damned
but as opposed to Chavez, Uribe is likely to win. not saying that's a good thing to serve multiple terms, just a prediction.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #24
38. "Voters be damned"? Chavez put his term limit to a VOTE OF THE PEOPLE!
And when he lost that vote, very narrowly, he didn't challenge it (--although he would have been within his rights to do so, it was so close--50.7% vs 49.3%), accepted it gracefully and moved on. (You think the rightwing in Venezuela wouldn't have screamed "fraud! fraud!" and tied up the country with controversy, challenges, protests and 24/7 corporate 'news' screeching, if the situation had been reversed, and they had lost by such a close vote?)

The Chavistas, however, loaded 69 amendments into that referendum, including equal rights for gays and women (in a Catholic country with a particularly rightwing clergy--and boy, did the rightwing opposition make hay out of THAT issue!). So it was not clear why 10% of the voters--normally pro-Chavez (previous votes and approval run about 60%)--voted no or abstained. Chavez didn't suffer a drop in popularity. It might have been sheer confusion--too many issues. Some voters mentioned that (in accounts I read). It might have been the equal rights amendment. (The rightwing ran ads saying that the government was going to take children away from their mothers, if it passed.) But it was not a clear plebiscite on the presidential term limit, as Bushites and Freepers would like people to believe. I would say, however, that it could be seen as a vote to slow down the pace of socialist change (which Chavez wanted to accelerate, and made that clear in speeches). But I think that with 69 issues, all different, many of them significant, it is very difficult to tell.

I would really like to know, actually, what the Venezuelan voters think of the presidential term limit--especially in view of how progressive change has happened in Venezuela, with a leader like Chavez emerging, who cuts a colorful figure on the world stage, and has been such a bold thinker and organizer, pulling the whole continent together on an agenda of social justice and Latin American self-determination. Are they worried about an overly-powerful president, or Chavez being "increasingly authoritarian" (as the rightwing constantly asserts)?

I've seen "personality politics" criticized by some on the left, with regard to Chavez. The left, of course, favors participatory democracy, maximum citizen participation and (some on the left) "no leaders." Chavez holds power on the basis of social movements. Exxon Mobil, Halliburton and the super-rich certainly don't empower him. So, what is--and what should be--the relationship between a popular, elected leader and the people and causes he serves?

It could be said that Chavez is not enough of autocrat! A political leader of his savvy probably should have put the kabosh on the equal rights amendment, this time around. He may have been overly responsive to grass roots pressure groups, and gave in on that one--thus killing the whole package (which included things like a shorter work week, and social security for the informal workers).

As any politician, or political observer, will tell you, when you have a close vote--such as the vote on the 69 amendment referendum (only a 1% difference between yes and no), you re-group and try again. There is no reason for the Chavistas to give up on any of those proposals. If they had been resoundingly defeated, then they obviously need some serious re-thinking. But they were very narrowly defeated--with voters complaining of confusion as well. That translates: Try again, with the issues laid out one at a time, for more public discussion.

It is totally remarkable that all of these issues are put to a vote of the people in Venezuela. We don't have such rights--no national referendum on issues of vital concern, and also no presidential recall provision (don't we wish!). Here, all issues have to go through highly corrupt, highly pro-corporate and pro-rich, channels of entrenched power, and the result, for instance, is that we have 70% of the American people opposed to the war on Iraq; we vote, and Congress does the opposite--it ESCALATES the war!

Neither Venezuela's system, nor the Chavez government, carries the message "voters be damned." The system and the current government are weighted far the other way--toward ordinary citizens and voters, who not only discussed, helped write and voted on the current Constitution, and regularly evaluate and vote on the president, of course--and can recall him, if they wish--and evaluate and vote on all members of the national legislature and other offices, but then, in addition, discuss and vote on specific amendments to the Constitution, giving voters extraordinary power over policy.

It is in the U.S. that "the voters be damned" is the prevailing attitude of the government and the political establishment--not in Venezuela. And it is in Colombia where, if you raise your head in a leftist cause, you might get it shot off--which rather dampens free discussion. The U.S. and Colombian political establishments are well suited to each other, and it is no wonder that they collude to undermine, attack and destroy real democracy in Venezuela and other South American countries. The question, I think, is whether democracy--real democracy--with free and open discussion, no fear, and maximum citizen participation, can defend itself successfully against fascist/corporate attack including the threat posed by massive U.S./Colombian military spending and war planning. This was the dilemma of FDR. This is Chavez's dilemma. This is often the dilemma of real democracies.

In that regard, Chavez showed himself to be a very adept leader, indeed, in his successful effort to prevent a war between Colombia and Ecuador this March (for which Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, called Chavez "the great peacemaker"). There is a fine balance between a nation's need for strong leadership--whether on national security, or on social policy--and the processes of democracy and self-rule--a balance that has been all but destroyed by the Bushites in the U.S.(with the collusion of both party leaderships), and that has been ravaged by brutal violence in Colombia. Venezuela has clearly been more successful than either of these in maintaining that balance: strong leadership vs. democracy. But it is always, always a question in societies that aim at self-rule. It is never settled. It is an on-going dynamic. And it is fascinating--and heartening--watching another society struggle with it, while our own seems to have given up and fallen into tyranny.

I will be very interested in what the Venezuelan voters have to say about the presidential term limit, if they are given a clear and simple referendum on that issue. It will be a plebiscite not so much on Chavez--who has always been popular--as on the balance-of-power issue. I think that South American societies are pioneering the democratic methods for recovery from global corporate predator-induced economic devastation and collapse. They are well ahead of us on this necessity, and provide a tutorial on how we might recover, here in the U.S. I know there is one basic fact that facilitates recovery there, and retards it here--and that is TRANSPARENT vote counting. They have it. We've lost it. That may be the crucial difference.

But if we can recover transparent vote counting, what then? How do we structure our recovery from the Bush Junta? For instance, do we cripple the presidency--hobble it with new restrictions--due to the Bushites' great abuse of power? What do we do to curtail global corporate predator power--dismantle them, ban them from our shores? And how do we re-assert public control over our public TV/radio airwaves, and achieve wide-spectrum political discussion and real journalism?

These and many other vital issues are being worked out, between leaders and voters, in South America, right now. We should be paying close attention, and we should not be satisfied with dismissive statements, like "the voters be damned" or (oft-heard) "Chavez is a 'dictator'" (or wants to become a "dictator"). The rightwing threw crap like that at FDR, too--and it was equally groundless. And you know what he said?

"Organized money hates me--and I welcome their hatred." --Franklin Delano Roosevelt

That is the heart of the matter.

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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 10:24 AM
Response to Reply #38
40. Uribistas won't understand the value of Chavez democracy
the only democracy they know is bribery.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. It may be difficult because unlike Venezuela, Colombia's systems
aren't clean.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. Where do you think the international observers would stand, if they only allowed them,
when the paramilitaries (insanely misleading word for "death squads") squeeze into the booths with the voters?

Makes you wonder.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:22 PM
Response to Original message
30. Sorry to be morbid, folks, but here's an interesting item:
Date: 17 Jul 2008
Recently opened organic fertilizer plant employs 30 Colombian men and women demobilized from illegal armed groups
Adriana Correa, IOM Colombia

Colombia - The second of 10 planned organic fertilizer plants, which will provide employment to 300 men and women demobilized from illegal armed groups, recently opened in the city of Medelln.

The plants raise earthworms to produce solid and liquid humus, a brown or black organic substance consisting of partially or wholly decayed vegetable or animal matter that provides nutrients for plants and increases the ability of soil to retain water.

The 2,500 square metre plant treats up to 3.5 tonnes of organic waste per day, which translates into a monthly production of 40 tonnes of solid humus and 3,000 liters of liquid humus, all of which will purchased by Biprocol Company.

Biprocol Company is implementing the project under the coordination of Colombia's High Commission for Reintegration (ACR), with technical support from IOM, and funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Mayor's Office of Medelln.

The employees receive government assistance for education, health care and psychosocial support, while they are training to become technicians in earthworm raising.

At the plant's opening ceremony, Andrs Gonzalez, General Manager of Biprocol, said he is proud that the private sector, the government and international organizations have a chance to work together to create employment for Colombians who believe in contributing to a peaceful country.

The Presidential High Commissioner for Reintegration, Frank Pearl, added that these joint endeavours lead to the successful economic reintegration of demobilized persons who need support in order to fully reintegrate and become autonomous citizens.

From November 2003 to August 2006, more than 31,000 members of the illegal self-defense groups had demobilized as a result of a peace process with the Colombian government. IOM provides its support to the government of Colombia for the reintegration process of these men and women as they transition into civilian life.



If there had been some decent jobs open in Colombia (that means NOT working as slaves for multinationals) these people wouldn't have had to join the death squads in the FIRST PLACE!

My question is, do you think any of them will come up with the bright idea of digging up some of those mass graves into which their right-wing death squad commanders had them dump the bodies of Colombian villagers and farmers they terrorized, often torturing, before they killed them?

God only knows THAT would provide one hell of a lot of fertilizer for the crops the new multinationals will be growing on the land the death squads stole when they drove the previous owners away, and sent them into a state of displacement, second only to Sudan as the world's largest humanitarian crisis (which has been carefully left OUT of the information our own media shares with us).
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robcon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
37. It's seems the South American style to try to overrule their constitutions
Uribe (Colombia), Chavez (Venezuela) and Menem (Argentina) have all tried to make an exception for themselves on term limits.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 10:24 AM
Response to Reply #37
41. "...all tried to make an exception for themselves."
That is an over-simplification, which glides past significant differences in the way these three sought/are seeking extended terms of office--and also why (to serve what interests?).

In the case of Uribe, he did not put the matter to a vote of the people, but rather bribed legislators (one of whom is now in jail for it) in a backroom deal to give him a second term. The voters never had any say in the matter. Chavez, by contrast, put the matter to a vote of the people, in a highly transparent election system that has been certified by the Carter Center, the OAS, and EU election monitoring groups; and lost the vote very narrowly, in a referendum with 69 different issues in one package (including equal rights for gays and women--in a Catholic country with rightwing clergy). It is not clear that voters were voting down a removal of the presidential term limit, but, in any case, it was out there, to be discussed and voted on without fear.

Both Chavez and Uribe want to re-introduce the issue for a popular vote, but the two voting systems on not equivalent as to fair and honest elections. Last year, 29 candidates for public office in Colombia were murdered, and 39 union leaders have been murdered--some of them tortured--by Colombia's rightwing paramilitary death squads, this year alone. How can any election be considered fair and honest in that circumstance? Colombia's election system is riddled with fear and intimidation.

I think that voters should have the say on this issue. (We didn't in the U.S.--the 2-term limit on the president was rammed through by the Republicans in the 1950s, specifically to prevent a "New Deal" from ever happening again; most of our Founders opposed term limits as undemocratic). I would like to see Venezuelan voters vote on this--as a clear and simple issue. Although the Bushites have poured millions of dollars into funding, organizing and training rightwing groups in Venezuela--through USAID-NED and other budgets--that is the only cloud over Venezuelan elections. They are otherwise fair, honest and transparent, and the results are trustworthy. That is not the case in Colombia. I would not trust results of a Colombian election.

As for Menem, he got an extended term through political haggling and the purpose was to push U.S.-dictated "neo-liberal" policies that were an utter disaster for Argentina. Which brings me to the question of whose interests will be served by a Chavez third term and by a Uribe third term. In the case of Chavez, we have a clear parallel to FDR and the "New Deal." The U.S. economy was in ruin--from similar rightwing/corporate crapola about "free markets" that destroyed Argentina, recently--and many a second- and third-world economy--is destroying the U.S. economy now, and did so in the 1910s-1920s, causing a worldwide, catastrophic depression. Chavez wants a third term to continue his reforms, which benefit the poor, and have so far resulted in a nearly 10% growth rate in Venezuela (with the most growth in the private sector), and which also have regional implications (South American integration, the South American "Common Market," etc.).

And, frankly, it is not all that clear what a Uribe third term would be about--because Uribe is caught between the U.S. and its $5.5 BILLION in military aid to Colombia, and the Bush-proposed "free trade" deal, on the one hand, and the overwhelmingly leftist trend--and active pursuit of economic/political integration--in the rest of the continent. Colombian military violence against civilians, the rightwing death squads, and drug/weapons trafficking--all tolerated by the political establishment, with many of Uribe's cohorts, and Uribe himself, implicated--do not bode well for Colombia's future. But there is another threat in Colombia--the threat of an outright military dictatorship. Either thing--a third Uribe term, or a military dictatorship--will serve the interest of the rich and of Exxon Mobil et al. But a third Uribe term might at least preserve the forms of democracy, with the hope of a future clean-up of this cauldron of corruption, and the hope that South American integration will help that process along. If Venezuela and Colombia are building a railroad together, and engaged in other such projects, Colombia will benefit, and will become less likely to seek benefit through economic or military warfare.

In fact, it's quite interesting that, when Chavez and Uribe met recently, to sign these accords, they were criticized by Colombian Defense Minister Santos, who is the leader of the most extreme fascists and militarists in Colombia. Upshot: Uribe seems to be the better of two bad choices.

In Venezuela, it is clear--from fact after fact after fact after fact after fact (do I have to state them all again?)--that a third term for Chavez will not harm Venezuelan democracy, and could be very beneficial. The downside would be too much dependence on one politician--like the U.S. with FDR. That guy dies, what happens to your "New Deal"? (The rightwing starts unraveling it--that's what happens.) But this is a rather commonplace hazard of democracy.

South America has been so wracked and ruined by U.S. global corporate predators, that one of its first orders of business is stability, and Chavez and Uribe are not the only current leaders seeking extended terms of office (a stability measure). Bolivia and Ecuador are seeking similar arrangements, and we might see even more of this, in other countries, before the decade is out. It's ridiculous to say they are all "dictators." They are not--nor was FDR. The chief questions are: Are extended terms achieved honestly and democratically? And who benefits?
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robcon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 06:03 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. Wow, it's hard to react to someone so "in the tank" for Chavez.
Takes the cake.
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angstlessk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-26-08 08:39 AM
Response to Reply #42
43. try 'reacting' as intelligently as the poster to whom you wish to 'react'
not just some idiotic cliche that means nothing except you do not like Chavez for some unknown reason??
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robcon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-26-08 08:58 AM
Response to Reply #43
44. Whereas Uribe is trying to set up a referendum, and you deny it.
See the OP. Try to think without letting your gushing for Chavez get in the way of logic. I know it's hard for you, but just tttrrryyy.

I think the South American inclination to overrule constitutions is awful. You think it's awful except when Chavez is involved. Sucks to be you.
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