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No More Term Limits for Venezuela’s Chavez

Posted on Feb 15, 2009
Flickr / openDemocracy

Hugo Chavez can remain Venezuela’s president until he dies, gets bored or loses the job in an election, now that a referendum dropping term limits has succeeded. Chavez was facing mandatory retirement in 2012. An earlier attempt to extend his time in office failed. International election observers pronounced the process free and fair.


With 94% of votes counted, 54% backed an end to term limits, a National Electoral Council official said.

Mr Chavez has said he needs to stay in office beyond the end of his second term in 2012 so he can secure what he calls Venezuela’s socialist revolution.

Critics say that would concentrate too much power in the presidency.

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By dan, February 19, 2009 at 12:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

how about recognizing the human condition if you give a man an inch he will take a mile. i would just warn the Venezuelan people not to continue to vote power over to their dearly beloved leader.

i bet this is not the last power grab by Chavez. you guys make out Chavez to be so virtuous. on the world stage he has shown himself to be hateful and pompous.

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By PatrickHenry, February 17, 2009 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment

I support Chavez as I supported and still support Castro.

The true winner of survivor island.

The U.S. governments failure to engage these close neighbors is shameful if only highlighted by our “covert” failures.

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By KDelphi, February 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

Viva Chavez! I wish USAns had the balls to have a Chavez…From Venezuelan Daily News Roundup:

US calls Venezuelan referendum democratic
The Associated Press
February 17, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP)—The Obama administration says the referendum that cleared the way for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to run for re-election was democratic. It was rare praise for a U.S. antagonist after years of criticism from the Bush administration.

U.S. State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid (DOO gud) noted “troubling reports of intimidation.” But he added Tuesday that “for the most part this was a process that was fully consistent with democratic process.”

Chavez captured more than 54 percent of the vote, according to preliminary tallies of 94 percent of results. The win allows him to run for a third term.

Asked whether that was a result the United States welcomes, Duguid said the issue “was a matter for the Venezuelan people.”

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By Quinty, February 17, 2009 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

NotSoFast -

Palin, Blagojovich, what’s sad about such candidates is that if the American people ever elected either one of them, not once but thrice! for president, our judgment would be so pitifully poor as to make democracy itself suspect. In Chavez’s case, at least he’s working for the Venezuelan people. The poor, having cut poverty nearly in half in Venezuela.

True, he may finally have had enough of the huge countervailing pressures against his regime he has democratically put up with these past eight years. Which makes the US lack of support all the more sad, since we have not shown any sympathy for his progressive reforms. Which would have lessened the pressures on him.

As for terms limits, well, that’s another debate in itself.

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By NotSoFast, February 17, 2009 at 1:02 am Link to this comment

Seems pretty simple to me.  If you just want power for your people, however you define them—victim/poor, in Hugo’s case—and you are willing to hold onto that power at any cost, then in the end we aren’t talking about principles, just your lust for power.  In which case I don’t really care who’s on top.  Usually the most ruthless wins that game. 

But if you do care about democracy, then you’ve got to want term limits.  It’s one of many important defenses against corruption, dynasty, and, yes, the tyranny of the masses. 

What?  You’d be okay with President Palin doing away with term limits if she could command a simple majority?  No?  Then don’t be a hypocrite.  Call this what it is: a very serious erosion of democracy, a bad sign for Venezeula’s future, and yet another example of socialism collapsing into power for the few in the name of the many.

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By CJ, February 16, 2009 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

Excellent, Quinty; quite right. But Chavez is complicated, which is better than simple-minded? (Dubyah for the latter)

But Chavez is portrayed as clownish buffoon, even by some on what passes for (North) American left. PBS’s Frontline did its (“unbiased,” of course) take on “Ugo.” He did that shtick before the U.N. General Assembly awhile back. Chavez is WAY funnier than Bill Maher and Ann Coulter. Once finished with Venezuelan Presidency, he could hook-up with network up north to do late-night comedy. Plus, he sings and dances and stuff.

I think he’s suspect not least for evidencing happiness, that thing our thing promised but has yet to deliver. I forgot, our thing promises only the PURSUIT of happiness, not the reality. Same as our thing promises that one MIGHT attain the dream, providing…much nonsense. Anything but guarantee of egalitarianism. (Isn’t that why Tom Paine went to France? I could be wrong.) Which could be delivered were it not the very promise that stands in the way of delivery. (Well, can’t have riches without far more stuck in poverty. Law of capitalist economics. Henceforth to be known—yes egotistically—as CJ’s Law. Since not once in all my readings have I encountered this patent axiom flatly presented for the obvious axiom it is. Many beat around the bush, but never quite state it right out.)

So just this evening, the delightful Kitty Pilgrim (filling in for old Lou back on the farm, presumably, or wherever he goes when not available) once again assailed Chavez for being “anti-American.” (Yes, her actual words, I promise.) She went on to explain of how he once referred to Dub as “devil.” Indeed, which I guess makes me “anti-American” since I agreed with Chavez at the time. I could smell sulfur all the way from the left coast.

The flaw in Kitty’s “reasoning” is obvious; demonization the ongoing objective. Pretty much in the case of any (small “d”) democrat. Lou and Kitty and Wolf and Jack and Keith and Chris and Rachel and all in employ of Murdock would be Walter—Lippmann, not Cronkite. Cons and libs both.

Just reading up on the 22nd Amendment, passed in the wake of FDR, who managed to get done one or two things, though not so much according to recent revisionist history. Hawks keep claiming that it was really WWII that got the New Deal done. (Meaning, apparently: LET’S GET IT ON!)

Then there was rumor that Clinton was interested in seeing 22nd repealed. (He discovered another possibility. Didn’t work out, but nice try.)

Maybe term limits really are a good idea under certain circumstances; e.g., in the U.S. where elections tend to be fraudulent. Maybe otherwise too, though otherwise they seem anti-democratic if/when democracy extends only so far as electing (paid-off) representatives ostensibly on behalf of the people. That is, short of participatory democracy, whereby there’d be no such thing as terms, since there’d then be no such thing as holding political office.

Chavez DID accept previous defeat, but then gave it another shot. This time getting what he wanted. Which makes him no different than Bill Clinton, except that Bill did not get what he wanted. That and the fact that Clinton was never so entertaining as Chavez, minimal (not minimal-IST) sax hardly adequate.

And far as I know, Chavez has yet to attack another country (not even Grenada, or…Caymans? The one attack upon which I might just fully support), though no doubt Lou and Kitty, and pretty much all the rest in American big media will continue to pray he’ll attack anyplace other than the Caymans, or do something else really, really, really bad. TV clowns worry so much!

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By jmcfadden, February 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President Hugo Chavez is only standing up against US imperialism. I support him 100%. The American empire is dying and it’s long past time for real “self-determination of nations” with no US interference, unlike the hollow promise of President Woodrow Wilson in 1917.
I wish we had a Hugo Chavez in the USA! It’s time to put a socialist in the White House!

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By diamond, February 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

Go, Lula go! If it’s good enough for Britain (the home of parliamentary democracy) I can’t see why it isn’t good enough for Chavez and the poor he’s trying to lift out of poverty and into the 21st century. If Bush had spent his time doing the same thing instead of betraying his own people and meddling in the Middle East the whole world would be better off.

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By PatrickHenry, February 16, 2009 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

Reminds me of the muti-term senators and representatives we have here in the good old U.S.

With the wives, husbands and kids elected once the 10 term legislator is gone, many districts are more akin to mini dynasties than democracies.

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By Quinty, February 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

If the US were at all serious about “democracy” in Venezuela our government would have gladly allied itself with Chavez’s attempts to better life for the poor.

Instead, the US allied itself with the so-called “oligarchs.” If the US were serious about human rights it would have explained to the oligarchs who held power that while we, the US, see them as our friends, attempting to make life better for the Venezuelan poor has a great deal of importance to us. And that we hope they, the oligarchs, can understand. And that for that reason we would to try to help President Chavez in his noble cause.

Instead, well….. our media dismisses him as a “dictator,” we send in the CIA, and for straying off the range we lump him with the “axis of evil.”

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By Bubba, February 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

Well done, Venezuela!

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By ender, February 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

The US gov’t has supported at least two coup attempts against Chavez as well as several assassignation tries.  Chavez hass an unusual record for a socialist leader in that he was in the military and has strong ties to them even though they supported US puppet dictators in the past.

Without Chavez or someone equally able to play hardball, Venzuela would soon be in the hands of another US puppet Dictator.

The thing about dictators is they are much cheaper to buy off to exploit a nations resources, than a democratically elected socialist that views the oil as the peoples property and wealth, not the wealth of a ruling elite kept in power by the US and a brutal military.

Congratulations Chavez, Venzuela and Up the Revolution!!!!

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By Crimes of the State Blog, February 16, 2009 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

You go, Hugo.

No, Chavez is not a dictator.  That is why he is vehemently opposed by the US reich wing (and their neoliberal hawks like Obama).  If he was a dictator, he would be embraced with money and arms, given a tour of the white house.  The US foreign policy establishment loves dictators.  They love death squads.  They love torture carried out by their client dictators.  They love state terror inflicted upon any indigenous populations which oppose US hegemony. 

Chavez stands in opposition to US hegemony.  That is why he is despised here.  He has taken his own country’s natural resources (oil and gas) and used the profits for the betterment of Venezuelans, not for corporate scumbags intimately connected to US rulers.

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By KDelphi, February 16, 2009 at 11:33 am Link to this comment

I would surmise that the people of Venezuela feel that it is much better than US Imperialism and the imposition of the US Chicago School neo-liberalism…

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By godistwaddle, February 16, 2009 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

Term limits are a dreadful idea—imposed by the right wing to keep the people’s choice under restriction.  The two-term limit of the Merkin presidency was a Republican idea.  They hated FDR; they HATE common people; they REALLY hate unionized workers.  If the people wish to vote for Chavez into eternity, why should they not be allowed to?

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By Whitney Green, February 16, 2009 at 10:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I cannot imagine that doing away with term limits is a good idea.  This appears to be a decided step away from democratic values, and may inspire other fragile democracies to do the same. 

Would love to hear from the Editors of Truthdig as to their take on this referendum…..

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By NotSoFast, February 16, 2009 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

I hope most TD readers are outraged by this power grab.  If you are able to think objectively you will agree that this is not good for Venezuela or the American left.  Yes I know, he’s reduced poverty, increased literacy, and America has been a bad colonial power, etc., etc.  But whether your dictator is benign or not, he is still a dictator.  Yes, I know he was ELECTED, how can he be a dictator?  Well, he’s a POPULAR dictator.  Luckily he doesn’t yet need to resort to too much overt oppression to stay in power.  The term “President” should not apply to someone who can stay in power as long as they want.  Here is how you recognize a president.  A president doesn’t silence the opposition.  A president doesn’t use government funds to stay in power.  A president has term limits.  A president doesn’t monopolize the state media to promote their personality. 

If you want a shining light of progressive politics, look elsewhere please, or risk losing all legitimacy.

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By Verne Arnold, February 16, 2009 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

Hugo Chavez has broken from the corrupt model of past American administrations and reduced poverty in his country dramatically. Viva Chavez; he’s showing the U.S. for what it is: A corrupt, imperialistic, fascistic, destroyer of lives, looking to dominate the world.
The stuff of despots from time immemorial. Time for a new model of a united world valuing the human condition. So, what’s your solution?

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By s3n, February 16, 2009 at 2:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Who needs an unfair election, if you can remove the powers of anyone you don’t like who gets elected, or otherwise prevent them from taking office?

Your article here is followed by a few “related stories” links. I don’t see any reporting on him doing that or threatening to send in the tanks the last time the people were voting there. Oversight?

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By 1twenty1, February 15, 2009 at 10:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whoopie!  No term limits!  g.w. bush eat your heart out!

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