File this under dog bites man

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Hugo Chávez took a surprisingly moderate tone in Saturday’s State of the Union address. He even went out of his way to shake the hand of opposition deputies.

Some are claiming this shows he is no dictator. To which I say: bollocks. Dictators shake the hands of democrats all the time. One handshake does not a democracy make. This is non-news, a veritable caliche.

Do you want to make a serious attempt to shore up your democratic credentials? Return the Enabling Law right now. Or better yet, free Maria Lourdes Afiuni, recently profiled in this story in The Guardian.

Anything else is just phony rhetoric.

1 COMMENT

  1. It’s sad that people in the outside will see this side of Chavez,the respectful democratic gentleman,and think “wait the news are so biased,he’s a democrat alright! down with imperialism!”. But you got an ex?guerilla on the NA presidency with about 10 dead bodies on his record,ex student activists that gave guns to violent groups working as “journalists on the state run media(the ugly girl in vtv),you have the TSJ sendind people to jail for money(i don’t need proof) and ex? terrorist members working around,along witht he Armed Forces threatening to overthrow the next government,and probably true accusations of drug deals by drug lords. Also,the presidennt family is richand they want you not have a pool in your house,and ration electricity and water(in maracaibo).

    So Juan Cristobal, where do you recommend i migrate to?
    big ol USA or somewhere else? =D

  2. I was surprised too when I picked up the newspaper and read about Chavez’s apparent bout of sanity. Foreign media reported that Hugo Chavez stated that he would study rescinding the enabling law by May. What he really said was something along the lines of “terminaremos legislando para mayo” which basically meant that he would push everything through by May instead of waiting 18 months. Sometimes I think large media outlets fail miserably at basic reading comprehension.

  3. Well, I wrote about the same thing. Chávez was calling for a dialogue when he got back to power in 2002. The farce lasted for less than 2 weeks. I linked to several articles then where he started again to say there was going to be no dialogue with the bourgeoisie.
    That pitiful thug was just scared to see for the first time in many years people in front of him who are not ready to lick his boots. He is afraid as hell of a real dialogue, much more of a real debate.
    The alternative forces should keep challenging him now to accept, among other things, to be question at the Assembly as any other head of state with possibility of indefinite reelection has to do (as in parliamentarian systems because presidential systems for good reason do not allow for indefinite re-election but for Cuba, Vietnam, Surinam and Egypt)

  4. I think the significant thing about the Chavez tone is that it opens a rhetorical window of opportunity for the opposition. Something like “we finally forced him to behave like a civilized human being and to recognize his many failures.”

    • Juan, again: don’t get too excited about this. This is NOT a victory and it is NOT a defeat. This is just a step in a chess game.
      Once we learn to see it that way we will act better. It does not mean we should not be optimistic, it just means we should not be running to count things as plus or minus, we must keep playing. This was exactly what he said on 14 April 2002.
      The guy was just scared to see so many people LIVE who could react in a way he was not prepare. Remember Hard Talk? The journalist commented how Stone had to calm him down several times so that Chávez did not stand up in fury or did something foolish. Estamos hablando de un gamberro, de un bruto. We are talking about the guy who cut off the head of a dead donkey and placed it in front of the house of a girl who had rejected him when he was a young man.
      The same guy who has a good memory to nest stories upon stories in endless monologues is not capable of a real debate or dialogue, so he did a preemptive strike. That’s all.

      I found Borges sent a good tweet to Chavezcandanga right after that.
      Debería seguir y seguir y no cejar hasta que Chávez pierda los estribos y quede mal.

  5. This doesn´t change anything. The guy has an agenda, and that speach was part of it. I feel he fooled no one outside, I actually feel he fooled more people inside, which is a shame that people still fall for this crap “a estas alturas del juego”…

  6. 12 years of yelling,calling to hate,violence,threatening and NOW that he knows hes losing popularity he’s calling for dialogue?
    Actually,i would expect more of this weird attitude.Remember he’s not used to talking to large crowds.Only to himself.Even if there’s alarge group of hundreds of thousands,hes not used to people reacting,talking back,debating,challenging or just conversating.
    Now he does not know what to do.he knows that if he starts yelling to the deputies the rest of the sheeple will follow and it’ll be humiliating for them,and a loss for him.
    Now he will act like a calm,serene,almost submissive man when faced to….reality.
    And since it wont work,because it never has before,e will use it to demonize the oppo.
    Saying he was open to debate,offering a window,a chance to change and create bonds,common interests,but the ugly imperial rich opposition refused.
    Because the unites states told them to.
    because they want the country in flames.
    because they will bring the end of Venezuela.
    because they will give the countries resources to the empire.
    And the worst part is,it will probably work.Just part of his populist agenda to split society and well,simply Cubanize us.

    can you imagine in the future having a chavista neiborgh you don’t like?
    And one time the neiborgh spies on you and tapes a conversation you had over the phone.And you feel like you’re being followed,you are.
    And then you get a visit from the Policia Bolivariana.

    Has any of you heard the soft cuban accent chavez developed?
    he’s like a kid.A powerful kid.

  7. Kepler i still don’t understand why they keep on going about the empire and it’s imminent defeat,wich will eventually come,and it will not be because of Chavez’s 21st century socialism.
    I mean,really?I guess the “boycott”(stop depending on some stuff)will cause “damage” up to some extent.Or so to speak

    Broken english much i believe but you get the idea.

    • My guess:

      1) they are like Jehova witnesses, they simply believe no matter what: the end is nigh, the signs are here, this is unique, we hadn’t seen this before and so on. I sometimes take a look at a Basque commie’s blog (he writes interesting stuff on archaeology). That guy does have a reasonable knowledge of world history and should know better and still he believes in the same kind of crap.

      More so someone like Soto or Chávez, with an almost non-existent knowledge of world history, to put it mildly.

      2) they are telling their humble followers that if we do not unite (i.e. if we do not do what they want us to do), we are traitors and we are contributing to Venezuela’s fall because we are selling it off to the US Americans.

  8. Thanks for your reference to Justice Afiuni. Outside of Venezuela, I think her case makes the deepest dent in Chavez’s pretence of being a democrat.

    I have a summary of her legal situation, complete with atrocities, here: jeffryhouse.blogspot.com

  9. Chávez has made the same move before, remember 11A?. There is nothing really new in his call for dialogue and moderation (although one should read moderation from the other side, not his). The key issue for the opposition is to stay on the attack, relentlessly go after his faults and those of his regime in the same fashion that has worked for them; if they buy his rhetoric we are doomed…

  10. Socialism is NOT and CANNOT be a peaceful or tolerant objective: If the aim is to gain ownership of the means of production for the State, it means the rest of society, all individuals are: A) despoiled (or paid off and expatriated) B) left with NO choice in economic activity C) Not able to lead independent lives (only one employer available, for example)

    Besides, being of the mistrustful persuasion, I believe that the real ideas of a public figure are expressed in the most radical of their utterances, when not under pressure (for example campaigning, or after being returned to power, or when the poll numbers sink). And that once something really ugly comes out their mouth, only a full recant and renunciation, a complete abjuration (with some self-lashing and some walking on the knees for good measure) can undo the damage and restore the benefit of doubt.

    We have heard Hugo and chavismo to exaggeration. The file of outrageous, intolerant, megalomaniac and plain hateful statements is almost infinite. The day I believe Hugo and chavismo wants to coexist is the day they renounce and curse Socialism as an objective with a million mea culpa for all they did in trying to bring it about.

  11. Can you say: Damage Control?
    Not only has the OAS condemned Chávez’ power grab, but The Guardian, that widely-read pinkoid rag, publishes on the day before Chávez’ State of the Union address, the article on Afiuni by Rory Carroll, an earlier dreamer.

    It stands to reason that Chávez set aside his military garb, took his meds, and put on his “I-am-a-reasonable-man, a democratic leader” costume on Saturday.

    Before long, it’ll be business as usual. The business of complete impunity.

    • “pinkoid rag”?

      I believe there are good and bad articles in The Guardian, specially the printed version. They have complete loonies like that ex-USSR agent Gott and pendejos sin fronteras write rubbish in the digital version in “comments for free”. We have good reason to think that is absolute rubbish.
      But that is very comparable with the loonies in standard US/British newspapers who write Israel is above international law and justify ethnic cleansing based on some religious writing plus some belief in a US manifest destiny. And they are not the majority there, but you have them as occassional guests as well. The problem is we are very sensitive with some regions (our own country) and loonies like Gott and tarifados as Weisbrot are writing about it.

      As for Rory Carrol being an earlier dreamer, I am not so sure about that:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/rorycarroll+world/venezuela?page=16

    • The Guardian has historically had a more liberal editorial line than say, the Daily Tory-graph or the Daily Fail, but their Latin America correspondent has been an enemy of Hugo Chavez pretty much since 2002. Rory Carroll is singularly responsible, in my opinion, for presenting the view in the British press that Chavez is more than just some far-off Latin American president with odd views. If you watch the documentary The Hugo Chavez Show you can see some of Carroll’s questions during a press conference. The guy really does not let up on El Comandante despite the fact that his Spanish was poor at the time.

    • Gee, I remember Rory Carroll a little differently, at least way back when. Then I just lost interest in reading his works later on.

      On the guardian site, I rechecked a few of Carroll’s earlier articles, in the online vault, as of Sep. 2006. Nothing about these articles screams: I’m going for the jugular, here; am not letting up on Hugo Chávez. They are, instead, softy-softy, modestly incisive. But I’ll give Carroll one thing. He’s rather fair.

      Now that you mention it, ElJef, I do remember Carroll’s question(s) to Chávez on an Aló Presi show, and how he was rebuffed, if memory serves.

      But in the main, Carroll’s efforts are perhaps of the school “piano, piano, si va lontano.”

    • In other words, Syd, you’re comfortable passing sweeping judgments about a journalists whose work you admit you don’t really know anything about…lindo!

    • not really. but if you, masked avenger, want to rewrite comments and exaggerate the points of others, including mine, to suit your agenda, be my guest. Your efforts are transparent, in spite of your ‘sinbolas’ handle.

    • Sinbolas: care to read the 2006 articles from Rory Carroll, published in the Guardian, and inform us all, just where exactly do you see this journalist never letting up on el mico? Your action, or inaction, will speak volumes.

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