December 3, 2007

Who Will Stand Up For Bolivian Democracy?

I know I promised a detailed critique of Max Boot's op-ed. I'm still working on it.... It's just got kind of long and unwieldy for a blog. Maybe if I break it down and post it as separate blog entries....

In the mean time, let's take a stroll through the two big news items in Latin America this past week.

The biggest item, by far, is that Chavez lost Sunday's constitutional referendum in Venezuela by the slimmest of margins, 51 to 49 percent. (If you don't know what I'm talking about...Chavez proposed major constitutional reforms that would have allowed him to serve unlimited terms as president and consolidate significant political, bureaucratic, and economic power. In short, this would have been the first step towards dictatorship in Venezuela). The defeat of his proposal is good news to defenders of democracy, bad news to lefties that would like to inflict on Venezuela a totalitarian "socialist" system. No doubt that as I type this, Chavez and his cronies are already plotting ways to overcome this set-back and forge ahead with plans to further consolidate power and continue in office past 2012, when Chavez's current term is supposed to expire. Four years can't come soon enough. The opposition in Venezuela should take advantage of this situation, come together, and build momentum to move forward.

One question regarding Chavez's defeat is how will this impact Evo's actions in Bolivia, the second news item of the week. MABB and Pronto have extensive coverage of the unfortunate developments in Bolivia since Thanksgiving, so I won't go into the details here. Bolivia now finds itself in a dangerous position, with the country and society polarized seemingly more than ever. So much so that the failure of the Bolivian state is now an issue should things continue with no amelioration. Evo is undoubtedly following the Chavez blueprint. Indeed, the Venezuelan President is probably the most influential advisor in the Casa Quemada and Evo's ill-conceived actions over the last week likely have Chavez's finger prints all over them. So what does Chavez's defeat on Sunday mean for Evo? Will he see Chavez's defeat and draw the conclusion that his constitutional reforms could meet a similar fate if he does not moderate his position and seek greater consensus? You would hope so.

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