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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Chavez and Morales: the corporate press speaks

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer write a book entitled "Castro's Final Hour"...in 1992, so I really don't expect too much from him in the way of insightful analysis. But at least he could get his facts straight. From his latest column:
While Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez suffered a huge defeat in the Dec. 2 referendum -- independent election monitors say he lost by a wider margin than officially announced and only accepted his loss under pressure -- he may still make a significant comeback in 2008.
First of all, how would otherwise unidentified "independent election monitors" know that Hugo Chavez "only accepted his loss under pressure"? Were they monitoring his conversations with his inner circle? And how would they know what the "real" results were? Exit polls are illegal in Venezuela, and unreliable anyway. Actually, though, it's easy to disprove both ludicrous claims with one piece of evidence - the election results were reported late on the night of the election (or early the next morning, depending on your time zone). If Chavez was actually being "pressured to accept" the result, or if there was some "fiddling" going on to manipulate the final vote, there's no way the result would have been reported just a few hours after the polls closed.

And finally, for the record, Chavez did suffer a "significant" defeat. He did not suffer a "huge" defeat.

Then we come to Evo Morales and Bolivia. There's actually interesting news from Bolivia. Here's the Miami Herald version:

After 16 tumultuous months of debate, allies of Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales hurriedly approved nearly all of a new constitution Sunday morning in a marathon overnight session.

The proposed constitution grants more power to Bolivia's indigenous majority; abolishes the opposition-led Senate; imposes more state control over natural gas, minerals and other natural resources; and permits presidents to be elected to two consecutive five-year terms, a proposal that Morales' opponents call an authoritarian power grab.

An earlier version of the document had allowed indefinite consecutive presidential reelection.
I love the bit about how two five-year terms constitute an "authoritarian power grab." I'll be waiting to see the corporate media apply that term to the many things George Bush & Co. have done which really constitute an "authoritarian power grab."

Curiously enough though, the Washington Post reports the story differently:

Bolivia's constitutional assembly approved a new charter Sunday that would empower the poor South American nation's indigenous majority and let President Evo Morales run for reelection indefinitely.
Well, I'm sure we'll hear more; there will be a referendum where the people of the country will get to vote and approve the new Constitution. What is it with these South Americans and democracy, anyway? Don't they know that actually letting the people vote on critical issues is dangerous?

Of course, unlike the American Congress and its collection of millionaires, the Bolivian Constitutional Convention was actually filled with "regular" people to begin with:

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