Constitutional Changes in Venezula – Erosion of Democracy?

26 Oct

Students have protested against Hugo Chavez who are making constitutional changes that they feel will seriously endanger civil liberties. The protestors are particularly worried about proposed changes which include detention without trial during a declared state of emergency. The constitutional changes, will however, be subjected to a popular referendum later in December 2nd. This is a large exercise considering that up to 67 constitutional amendments are debated and voted upon that would allow the government more control over the Central Bank, create new types of cooperative property and extend presidential terms from six to seven years; and even letting Chavez to run again in 2012.

Students also claimed that their protests are being stopped from reaching the National Assembly while pro-Chavez supporters are able to stage demonstrations without restrictions. Student leader Stalin Gonzalez, who was quoted on an Associated Press report, “Clashes break out at Venezuela protest”, dated October 23, said, “It’s clear proof of political discrimination.”

While Chavez has claimed that these changes are necessary to speed up socialist reforms in the country, proposed changes such as extending Presidential terms and allowing Chavez to run for unlimited terms will erode democratic values and destroy safeguards in preventing the country from sliding into authoritarianism. Detention without trial is an often used political tool by dictators to silence dissent and hold on to power.

The transition to socialism cannot mean replacing it with a political system which effectively prevents people from exercising their democratic rights. It appears, based on news reports, that the constitutional changes as advocated by Chavez is heading right for that slippery slope.

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One Response to “Constitutional Changes in Venezula – Erosion of Democracy?”

  1. jwala December 11, 2007 at 1:18 pm #

    if simplicity is power than u master it….i have been trying to cover this article but everytime i read any article it gave me a hazy picture of the entire situation…keep it up

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