The article linked above injects a little balance and reality into the get-Chavez media/administration/bipartisan frenzy. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the lake of oil Venezuela sits on, nor with the different, albeit imperfect, socioeconomic model Chavez's Venezuela embodies, and which it is exporting all over Latin America, and perhaps beyond. That is, a non-neoliberal, non-neoconservative, anti-"Washington Consensus" model of development and government.
Nope, I'm not naive enough to worship everything Chavez says and does. I am, however, results-oriented, and Chavez's party still seems to be positioning itself to get yet more real results for the majority of its citizens. Do you see any such development in either of the two parties in this Greatest Democracy on the Face of the Earth? You know, the one that has cancelled habeas corpus and engages in unilateral wars of aggression, the supreme international crime?
Yes, it is always possible that Chavez will drift toward truly dictatorial power. One must realize that "anti-Bush" doesn't equal "completely on the side of the angels, all the time." Take Putin, for instance. Simply because he is anti-US imperialism doesn't make him somehow a Jeffersonian democrat. Nor does it excuse his ample crimes, in Chechnya and in Russia. The world is just a tad more complex than "Bush bad; anyone anti-Bush good."
And, yes, there are some aspects of Chavez's administration, and desired constitutional changes, that are worrisome. However, on balance, so far, Venezuela is groping toward a far more sustainable and democratic model than we have here in the US. I am in general not a fan of increasing centralization; thus I, too, am concerned, but not for the reasons we are all battered with on a daily basis by our own corrupt media. Furthermore, despite my distaste for centralization, it's not clear that there is a decentralized way of reforming that (or possibly any) country, given a centralized and powerful opposition. Do you sieze state power (legally, of course) or dismantle or work around the state? An old debate to which I don't have an answer.
By the way, I cannot find an official full list of proposed amendments in English. This is the best I could do. Does not bode well. There's an official version in Spanish, but it consists of the final version of the new constitution if all amendments are passed. Which kinda makes it hard to see what the list of proposed changes are, unless you read Spanish and can compare it to the 1999 constitution. I can't, thus, vouch for the first link in this paragraph.
Some more information:
- A report by Weisbrot of the CEPR on the Venezuelan economy under Chavez.
- Venezuela: still a democracy
- Weisbrot on CSPAN talking about Venezuela. (RealPlayer)
- What is at Stake in Venezuela’s Reform Referendum?
- CIA Operation "Pliers" Uncovered in Venezuela. Yes, yes, I know: it's just a rabid conspiracy theory to think that the CIA would ever intervene in a Latin-American election. I mean, that's never happened before. Silly me.
- Democracy Now's take on it from today's broadcast.
- Further info here. A nice counterbalance to the nonstop propaganda we are blasted with.
But I have no sympathy for you if you simply sit back and consume whatever crap is handed to you with your critical faculties turned off. Especially by an American media system that has amply proved its untrustworthiness over and over again.
There is no alternative to digging, thinking, and judging on your own. Well, aside from being a good little sheep, of course.