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Venezuela: Competitive Autocracy, the new wave in Latin America?
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, December 29, 2005

Javier Corrales pens an excellent article in the Jan/Feb issue of Foreign Policy magazine about Hugo Chavez’s “new style of authoritarianism”, or “how to be a modern dictator in democracy obsessed world”.

One can only hope that his competitive autocracy will remain confined to Venezuela along with his socialist policies, but, given Latin America's historic propensity for leftist ideology as a replacement for right-wing autocratic rule, it may indeed spread before it dies its deserved death.It is a fascinating look into the details of how Chavez has managed to disguise his authoritarian leftist regime as a democratic republic and, for the moment, seems to be getting away with it. Unfortunately, the Jan/Feb issue to Foreign Policy magazine isn’t online yet, so I’m unable to link, but I will provide some excerpts from the article as I go.

Hugo Chavez’s first try at leading Venezuela came in the form of an attempted coup in 1992 while a lieutenant colonel in the armed forces. Somehow he survived the failed attempt and in 1998, ran successfully for the presidency. Since 1998, he has rewritten the modern dictators handbook for how to establish and maintain an authoritarian regime and make it appear to be a democracy.

Obviously two of the hallmarks of any democratic nation are accountability and limits on power (especially presidential power). Yet Chavez has managed to circumvent both accountability and limits on his power. As a matter of fact, he is in complete control of those institutions which have the constitutional job of limiting his power. How did he do that?
In 1999, he engineered a new constitution that did away with the Senate, thereby reducing from two to one the number of chambers with which he must negotiate. Because Chavez only has a limited majority in this unicameral legislature, he revised the rules of congress so that major legislation can pass with only a simple, rather than two-thirds, majority. Using that rule, Chavez secured congressional approval for an expansion of the Supreme Court from 20 to 32 justices and filled the new posts with unabashed revolucionarios, as Chavistas call themselves.
Not content with controlling both the legislative and judicial branches of the government, Chavez next moved to take control of the military:
Chavez has also become commander in chief twice over. With the traditional army he has achieved unrivaled political control. His 1999 constitution did away with congressional oversight of military affairs, a change that allowed him to purge disloyal generals and promote friendly ones. But commanding one armed force was not enough for Chavez. So, in 2004, he began assembling a parallel army out of urban reservists, whose membership he hopes to expand from 100,000 members to 2 million. In Columbia, 10,000 right-wing para-military forces significantly influenced the course of the domestic war against guerrillas. Two million reservists may mean never having to be in the opposition.
Legislature under control. Check. Supreme Court in his pocket. Check. Military and “reservists” loyal to him. Check.

What would then make his continuation in power almost certain? Unlimited funds and a method of contolling the vote, right?

 
As important, Chavez commands the institute that supervises elections, the National Electoral Council, and the gigantic state-owned oil company, PDVSA, which provides most of the government’s revenues. A Chavez-controlled election body ensures that voting irregularities committed by the state are overlooked. A Chavez-controlled oil industry allows the state to spend at will, which comes in handy during election season.
This, of course, is the system Jimmy Carter endorsed the last time he “monitored” Venezuela’s elections.

Chavez, of course, put the final nail in the coffin of real democratic governance when his desired media laws were passed by his puppet legislature.
As if that weren’t enough, a new media law allows the state to supervise media content, and a revised criminal code permist the state to imprision any citizen for showing “disrespect” toward government officials.
Probably the most ingenious Chavez twist is found in how he handles his political opposition (yes, they are allowed to exist as they come in handy as you’ll see later on):
By compiling and posting on the Internet lists of voters and their political tendencies—including whether they signed a petition for a recall referendum in 2004—Venezuela has achieved reverse accountability. The state is watching and punishing citizens for political actions it disapproves of rather than the other way around.
That’s the state Chavez has managed to construct in his 6 years in power. That’s all fine you say, but how does he think he’ll manage to stay in power if the people of Venezuela finally tire of him?

By using tactics which again are new or have a new application in terms of propping up a dictatorship. Corrales characterizes them as “Polarize and Conquer”. First it is important to note that the primary Chavez constituency among Venezuelans is the poor. But it is also important to recognize that while he has spent lavishly (up to 30% of the GDP in 2004) on initiatives, he’s failed to really make meaningful improvements in poverty, education or equity. Additionally, not all of the poor support him (some polls showing that up to 30+% of the poor don’t approve of his rule). So Chavez has invented a new style of dictatorship which Corrales calls “competitive autocracy”.
A competitive autocrat has enough support to compete in elections, but not enough to overwhelm the opposition. Chavez’s coalition today includes portions of the poor, the bulk of the thoroughly purged military, and many long-marginalized leftist politicians. … Chavez’s opposition is too strong to be overtly repressed and the international consequences of doing so would in any case be prohibitive. So Chavez maintains a semblance of democracy, which requires him to out-smart the opposition. His solution is to antagonize, rather than to ban. Chavez’s electoral success has less to do with what he is doing for the poor than how he handles organized opposition. He has discovered that he can concentrate power more easily in the presence of virulent opposition that with a banned opposition, and in so doing, he his rewriting the manual on how to be a modern-day authoritarian.
This point is instructive for understanding what is happening in Venezuela and has some echoes in some current politics in the US.

But competitive autocracy ala Chavez works as follows:

Attack Political Parties: Chavez found the discontent with the existing parties was both “profound and pervasive” according to Corrales. He exploited that to get elected and then used it further to revise the Venezuelan constitution into one of the most anti-party constitutions in Latin America.

Polarize Society: Here Corrales is really talking about polarizing the political system since it is that system which will keep Chavez in “legitimate” power. The key is to remove the power of the political center, which, in most democratic societies, is numerically large. How is it done?
By provoking one’s opponents into extreme positions. The rise of two extreme poles splits the center: The moderate left becomes appalled by the right and gravitates toward the radical left, and vice versa. The center never disappears entirely, but it melts down to a mangeable size.
That could also be described as a good description of US politics at this point in time.

Spread The Wealth Selectively: Or “Reward Your Friends”. Chavez, who characterizes himself as a populist doesn’t at all use his power or the wealth of the state as one would expect a populist to do. Instead he uses that wealth to benefit citizens who are useful to him. And, by denying his opposition any of the spoils, he further antagonizes and enrages them, pushing them more toward the extreme, which he then uses to his benefit.

Allow The Bureaucracy To Decay, Almost:
Some autocracies, such as Burma’s, seek to become legitimate by establishing order; others, like the Chinese Communist Party, by delivering economic properity. Both types of autocracies need a top-notch bureaucracy. A competitive autocrat like Chavez doesn’t require such competence. He can allow the bureaucracy to decline—with one exception: the offices that count votes.
Corrales then documents the decline of Venezuelan bureaucracy (more than half of Chavez’s cabinet is shuffled every year) while showing how much importance Chavez has vested in ensuring elections are run to his advantage. One indicator is the “brightest and best” are to be found in the ministry of finance, which is also the ministry which runs elections (convenient if you ask me, considering funding and vote counting are one-stop shopping). Nelson Merentes has been the minister of finance for Chavez since he took power and is considered an “electoral whiz”. A trained mathematician, Merentes has engineered a solid system to ensure Chavez’s ‘reelection’ when necessary. Corrales details the machinations and schemes by which this is accomplished in the article. But suffice it to say if Jimmy Carter thought the last elections were fair, the old man was smoking something.

Antagonize A Superpower: Or, in Orwellian terms, invent an enemy to distract and unite your constituency. This is certainly nothing new, that’s for sure, but Chavez has made it an art-form.
All autocrats need international support. Many seek this support by cuddling up to superpowers. The Chavez way is to become a ballistic anti-imperialist. Chavez has yet to save Venezuela from poverty, militarism, corruption, crime, oil dependence, monopoly capitalism, or any other problem the international left cares about. With few social-democratic accomplishments to flaunt, Chavez desperately needs something to captivate the left. He plays the anti-imperialist card because he has nothing else in his hand.

The beauty of the policy is that, in the end, it doesn’t really matter how the United States responds. If the United States looks the other way (as it more or less did prior to 2004), Chavez appears to have won. If the United States overreacts, as it increasingly has in recent months, Chavez proves is point. Aspiring autocrats take note: Trashing the United States is a low-risk, high-return policy for gaining support.
Corrales ends the article by characterizing Chavez’s autocratic style:
Like most fashion designers, Chavez is not a complete original. His style of authoritarianism has influences. His anti-Americanism, for instance, is pure Castro; his use of state resources to reward loyalists and punish critics is quintessential Latin American populism; and his penchant for packing institutions was learned from several market-oriented presidents in the 1990s.

Chavez has absorbed and melded these techniques into a coherent model for modern authoritarianism. The student is not emerging as a teacher, and his syllabus suits today’s post-totalitarian world, in which democracies in developing countries are strong enough to survive traditional coups by old-fashioned dictators but besieged by institutional disarray. From Ecuador to Egypt to Russia there aare vast breeding grounds for competitive authoritarianism.

When President Bush criticized Chavez after November’s Summit of the Americas in Argentina, he may have contented himself with the belief that Chavez was a lone holdout as a wave of democracy sweeps the globe. But Chavez has already learned to surf that wave quite nicely, and other may follow in his wake.
See the recent election of Evo Morales in Bolivia for proof of Corrales’ thesis.

The big question, is can Chavez maintain his grip on power through these methods, or will economic reality, given his socialist bent, finally be his downfall. Rest assured, however, that as long as he can maintain the semblance of democratic elections and avoid overt repression of his political opposition, he will be left free by the rest of the world to pursue whatever goal it is he has in mind for the people of Venezuela. And, of course, given the fact that socialism, on a state level, has never worked anywhere it has been tired, his experiment in Venezuela will most likely end badly for its citizens.

One can only hope that his competitive autocracy will remain confined to Venezuela along with his socialist policies, but, given Latin America's historic propensity for leftist ideology as a replacement for right-wing autocratic rule, it may indeed spread before it dies its deserved death.

Again, all eyes are on Boliva.
 
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What would then make his continuation in power almost certain?
Jimmy Carter.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Excellent article. I’m glad to see I wasnt the only one who noticed the, albeit faint, comparisons to US politics.

The only criticism I would make is that I am not yet entirely convinced that the election of Morales in Bolivia is a prime example of this. The only place where it seems to actually apply is in a certain amount of rhetoric against the United States and a sort of populist politics. The rest of the power controlling strategies implemented by Chavez simply arent in the grasp of Morales to try at this moment, even if he wanted to.

I do admit that I am somewhat concerned about which direction Morales will go, but only time will tell in that regard.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Excellent article. I’m glad to see I wasnt the only one who noticed the, albeit faint, comparisons to US politics.

Oh they’re there all right, but what isn’t there is the political infrastructure Chavez has built which assures his is the loudest voice and the most effective political machine.

The only criticism I would make is that I am not yet entirely convinced that the election of Morales in Bolivia is a prime example of this.

Other than the fact that Morales has called Chavez his "hero", I’m not sure either ;).
Morales counts Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez among his friends, along with leftists in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay who have gained power at the ballot box this decade. After the exit polls were released, an AP reporter at Morales’ home in Cochabamba said he immediately received a phone call from Chavez.
Additionally, I’ve read reports that Chavez helped him out monetarily in the campaign.

And if that weren’t enough, it appears that at least part of the Chavez pattern is evident in some of what Morales has recently said:
The Bush administration has criticized Morales for his close ties to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Cuban president Fidel Castro as well as his opposition to so-called free-trade policies. Morales closed his campaign Thursday by declaring his election would be a: "nightmare for the United States."
See "Antagonize a Superpower".

Then, of course there’s the name of Morales movement -- MAS, or "Movement to Socialism". Who do you suppose he’ll try to pattern his "movement to socialism" after?

Oh ... and you might find this comment on another site interesting:
Evo Morales keeps a picture of Che Guevara in his pocket. The picture is his talisman, and also his north. Bolivia is going the Cuban way, or at least that is what Morales plans.

As a “cocalero” leader he is anti-American by definition. He has been mentored by Castro and Chavez. He wants a constitutional assembly to produce a socialist document. He also wants to nationalize all natural resources and get rid of foreign companies.

You would probably think that he is leading Bolivia to an economic crisis but he has the money to finance any extravagance, courtesy of Venezuela’s oil. Plus coca leaf production may become a major source of windfall money.

If Hugo Chavez is a headache for the US, Morales will be a migraine.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
While he has announced his intentions to nationalize certain natural resources, since his election he has also noted that he will not removing all foreign corporations from the country.

I also attempted to read the MAS party web-site, with the aid of a translator and what little Spanish I know, and they actually seem far more pragmatic than we are giving them credit for.

They at least seem to recognize that part of prosperity for workers means that businesses need to be able to generate wealth for the people to share in... as opposed to American-style socialist who seem interested in nothing more than sucking businesses dry for their own purposes.

Morales is definitely populist, however it is notable that he is of pure indigenous decent in one of the few Latin American nations that have a majority indigenous population... and he is the first President they have had that actually represented that population. He is also firmly against the US WoD, specifically against the coca plant, but that is largely because Coca plays a large role in many aspects of indigenous society. It isnt just used to make cocaine, like we presume here.

Anyways, my contention is not that Morales rhetoric is not similar to those of Chavez and Castro. There really is no contention there. However the kind of rhetoric that people rally behind and the actual direction that their leaders take them in can be two very different things. It is not yet a given that Morales intends to take Bolivia the way of Venuzuela. He could choose to take the country in the much more palatable, although still very much leftist by American standards, of Argentina or Brazil... who have actually been relatively successful.

All we can really do is wait and see which direction he takes.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
While he has announced his intentions to nationalize certain natural resources, since his election he has also noted that he will not removing all foreign corporations from the country.

Neither did Chavez initially. Eventually, however, he did.

Right now, it’s easy (and necessary) for Morales to say such things.

Morales is definitely populist, however it is notable that he is of pure indigenous decent in one of the few Latin American nations that have a majority indigenous population... and he is the first President they have had that actually represented that population.

Agreed. And, if he usese the Chavez spoils system (using the nationalized gas industry funds), which seems to be working well there, he can also assure a large voting bloc come reelection time.

He is also firmly against the US WoD, specifically against the coca plant, but that is largely because Coca plays a large role in many aspects of indigenous society. It isnt just used to make cocaine, like we presume here.

Except, of course, that the size of the annual crop far exceedes any "indigenous" use.

Look, it’s their country and they can grow what they wish, as far as I’m concerned, but I’m not going to buy the line that all the coca grown is for internal consumption.

It is not yet a given that Morales intends to take Bolivia the way of Venuzuela. He could choose to take the country in the much more palatable, although still very much leftist by American standards, of Argentina or Brazil... who have actually been relatively successful.

Or Cuba. His VP is a "Marxist intellectual" and he has a thing for Che.

You’re right, it’s way to early to say which way he’ll go, and that’s precisely why I ended the piece with "all eyes are on Boliva".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
You guys all sound like tired corporate colonialists, because you are too lazy to go to Venezuela, or Bolivia, you just say, (through a translator) "Gosh, What are those brown people doing down there?!". Anti-Americanism is not "pure Castro", Anti-Americanism is the most effctive campaign path to elected office in the world, right now. Spain, check. Germany, check. Bolivia, check, etc. Why don’t you visit Venezuela? Inform yourselves before spouting CIA; energy industry cliches that in many cases fit the American president more snuggly than his counterpart in Venezuela.
or visit www.venezuelanalysis.com and free your mind so you can "free your market".please.
 
Written By: jf
URL: http://
Great article, but the political system you described sounds exactly like Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich style politics.

It was the republicans with their "southern strategy" who decided to demonise the democrat party as an un-american, anti-white party. Who can ever forget those Willie Horton ads, or that Jesse Helms ad with the white man who lost his job to a black (blacks were only 12% of the population at the time).

It is that same faction of the republican party who are creating enemies out of the illegal slave like Mexican labor force. My only hope is that it drives the Mexican people away from Fox, and towards a president with a Bolivarian outlook.

It seems like the real gripe of that article is that Chavez has succesfully used the confrontational racial/class, urban/rural, conflict politics that Americans have succesfully used since the rise of Nixon.

Thank you.
 
Written By: Antonio Ortiz
URL: http://
Great article, but the political system you described sounds exactly like Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich style politics.

The echos of American politics was duly noted in the article. Perhaps you missed them.

What should also be noted is what Chavez has done is far beyond anything done in American electoral politics on either side, and that was the point made by detailing how he’s accomplished an almost stealth dictatorship in Venezuela.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
What you Americans don’t realize is that South America is sick and tired of your atrocities. Look back in history and see what you have done to just about every country, how you have killed and stolen from them and assassinated thousands of innocent people. Your government is responsible for many crimes and you expect people in South America to love you? only those puppets you have put in power that have sold their souls to the devil are there to serve you. And they are decreasing rapidly.

Chavez represents hope to the people and this is now all over South America, Bolivia just did it, next will be Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and El Salvador.

Soon enough they only friendly nation to the US will be Colombia and that won’t last, Colombian people want change also, Africa and Asia will follow the Socialism of the 21st century.

Your corrupt capitalistic system is as bad as communism, only a few get super rich while the majority gets screwed, if the US is so mighty and so powerful why are there 40 million poor people in the USA?? You might have money and weapons but you are ruled by the most inhumane people on earth.

Most Americans are ignorant of the atrocities their government do worldwide, that is why they don’t understand why they are hated around the globe. And then Bush come on TV and tells them, it’s because the world is jealous about our freedom. What freedom? Patriot act took care of that for you, and now they are spying on you, how free are you, need a vacation? Scratch Cuba of the list, you are not allowed to go there!
What freedom you enjoy!
 
Written By: Orlando
URL: http://
What you Americans don’t realize is that South America is sick and tired of your atrocities.

And, frankly, America couldn’t care less about what you are sick and tired of, Orlando.

This post isn’t about America. It’s about Venezuela and the bill of goods Chavez is selling its citizens all the while perverting the democratic process and leading Venezuela down the primrose path to economic ruin through socialism.

Why not face the fact that America has nothing to do with the subversion of democracy in Venezuela or it’s predictable results ... Hugo Chavez does.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
For what it is worth, I fully understand and respect why many Latin Americans are upset with the United States and its policies. That Chavez likes to antagonize the United States is honestly the least of my concerns.

My biggest concern over Chavez is the way that his policies have taken Venuzuela into economic decline and how the situation of the poor in that country has only stagnated since he came to power. My concern is that, as McQ notes, he is turning the country into a pseudo-Democratic autocracy.

Beleive it or not, some people are actually concerned about the harm that Chavez is doing to his own country and to his own people. I cant speak for everyone else, but my issues with Chavez have little to do with his rhetoric and posture towards the United States. I dont really care about that.

It is easy for people to rally behind a leader who is ultimately bad for the country, just because some ’evil’ external force makes it popular to do so. The United States has (IMO) certainly seen its own share of stupidity come forth from rallying behind the current administration, under the convenient guise of uniting behind an overblown terrorist threat. It certainly isnt only Chavez who can utilize an external bogeyman in order to rally internal support while advancing ultimately negative policies.

(Note to Bush supporters: Lets not get into a drawn out argument over my issues with the administration, please. If it makes you more comfortable, subtitute the people who rally behind ultimately negative policies under the guise of socialism that are advanced using the external bogeyman of the evil capitalist. Just understand the point that I am attempting to convey.)
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Your corrupt capitalistic system is as bad as communism, only a few get super rich while the majority gets screwed, if the US is so mighty and so powerful why are there 40 million poor people in the USA??
I agree with many of your points considering American foreign policy, Orlando, but I cant neccesarily agree with this comment. For all of our many faults, its pretty hard to argue that the United States dosent have a strong and prosperous middle class.

As one of those 40 million ’poor people’ in the US, at least on paper, I can tell you it isnt neccesarily that bad. I should also note the millions of illegal immigrants that we get from Latin American countries who come here because being a poor American is better than being poor in their home country.

I have no problem with people recognizing the bad aspects of the United States, but to dismiss the positive aspects is simply irrational and wrong.

For what its worth, I only wish the best for the people of Latin American. I just hope that in your somewhat justified backlash against the United States, that you dont ultimately just hurt yourself in the process. We have a saying in English for this:

Dont cut off the nose to spite the face.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
McQ, have you ever been to Venezuela? everything you are mentioning is a repeat of what the Venezuelan oposition (RIP)says. You and Corrales are nothing but a mercenary pens, paid to lie.

Chavez has decrease poverty (the only time poverty increased during chavez mandate was due to the cue your government backed and the sabotage of the oil industry)go to Venezuela and find out reality. But again I think you know the truth but your job is to lie and misinform Americans just like CNN, NY Times, all that trash controlled by the Bush cronies.

2006 is going to be great, the National Assembly will approve all sorts of laws that will benefit the country.

Mr Resensteel,

Why the hipocrasy about illegal immigrants?? I wish they will all return to their countries and see who will do your dirty jobs. Afterall many of them are exploited, isn’t that what make your society wealthy, prosper on behave of others, isn’t that the American way of life.

The reason why these people immigrate is because their countries are devastated by free trade and they can’t compete with the transnational which are heavily subsidized by your government.

Go ahead a build your wall, don’t forget how much you critisized the Berlin Wall under communism, but it is ok if jews and Americans do it. After all you are own by zionist jews and that is why you are in Iraq assessinating muslims and stealing oil.

 
Written By: Orlando
URL: http://
Go ahead a build your wall, don’t forget how much you critisized the Berlin Wall under communism, but it is ok if jews and Americans do it. After all you are own by zionist jews and that is why you are in Iraq assessinating muslims and stealing oil.

This is how upsidedown Orlando’s thinking is. First of all the Berlin Wall was built to keep its people in and not out. I doubt China would consider its Great Wall a national shame.

The rest is just... sad if you’ve actually swallowed that.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
Although Orlando’s mindset does raise some concern. Chavez is hoping to tap into a Hispanic Nationalism that could spread across the Southern continent and into the Northern continent into possibly Mexico. There’s just something deja vu like (think 1930’s Europe) about Chavez and his subversion of a government as well as having a significant (if not majority) segment of strong popular support.

If Chavez or someone Chavez-like does manage such a feat, it brings us back to the issue of illegal immigration.

Many people dismissed any parrallels between the unassimulated Muslim communities of France and England and the unassimulated illegal Hispanic communities of the US. Hypothetically faced with a pan-American Hispanic movement, is such a sentiment still warranted?

Note: by assimulation I don’t mean a cultural assimulation but rather having your first loyalty to be your new country and all its people rather than your country of descent.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
Actually, Orlando, Latino immigrants to the United States are assimilating into the middle class... just like every other wave of immigrants that this country has ever had. Farmers in border states are complaining about labor shortages right now, because most of the illegal immigrants who once worked for them are opting to work in the much more lucrative construction industry.

Latino immigrants in the United States are doing quite well for themselves, which is why they continue to come here en masse.

I am also failing to see where any of my comments can be construed as hipocrasy regarding illegal immigration, or where I ever mentioned anything about building any sort of wall. Care to point out where I said anything to that effect?
2006 is going to be great, the National Assembly will approve all sorts of laws that will benefit the country.
Well, good luck with that. I hope it works out. My warning, however, still stands. I would highly suggest not engaging in policies for the sole purpose of spiting America, but doing so in order to improve your own country. Trust me, we’ve seen what kind of stuff can pass when bad policies are advanced due to the nebulous threat of some external bogeyman.

Re: The Venezuelan economy and poverty in 2005

According to the website you posted, venezuelanalysis.com, there has been strong economic growth in 2005 and a decrease in certain measures of poverty. Presuming the information on this site is true for a moment, keep this in mind: The recent strong growth seems to be primarily a factor of increased worldwide oil prices. I have found no accounts whatsoever, even on this pro-Chavez site, that there have been any signifigant improvements in diversifying the economy beyond the lucrative oil sector.

It is going to take a lot more than expensive oil to see economic advance that will truly create a strong middle class and benefit the poor of a country. One need look no further than oil-rich Saudi Arabia to see this in action.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
John:
Many people dismissed any parrallels between the unassimulated Muslim communities of France and England and the unassimulated illegal Hispanic communities of the US. Hypothetically faced with a pan-American Hispanic movement, is such a sentiment still warranted?
Honestly, I’m not particularly worried about this. By most accounts I have read Hispanic assimilation is advancing similar to most other waves of immigration into this country. As opposed to being a homogenous and polarized prescence, hispanic voters are fairly well split between party lines. There is little indication that we are going to see a persistant ghettoized underclass that we have seen with Muslims in places like France.

The only reason why the assimilation seems so slow, in my estimation, is that geographic proximity puts us in the unusual situation of having a constant flow of new hispanic immigrants... whereas previous migrations came in discrete waves.

There do appear to be certain examples where immigrant populations are remaining segregated and unassimilated, but that hardly seems to be the dominant trend overall.

It should also be noted that part of the problem with French immigrants are economic in nature. We have a much lower structural unemployment rate than European nations, and unlike in Europe our immigrants (illicit and otherwise) dont tend to have the same amount of problems in securing jobs.

At this point I dont really see much of a compelling reason to beleive that we wont see the same pattern of assimilation as we have previously seen with Italian, Irish, and various other mass American migrations.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
McQ, have you ever been to Venezuela? everything you are mentioning is a repeat of what the Venezuelan oposition (RIP)says. You and Corrales are nothing but a mercenary pens, paid to lie.

Orlando, why not just address the facts contained in the article instead of all this dancing around. Where I have or haven’t been is irrelevant.

If they’re lies, then you’ll have no difficulty refuting them. To this point, all we’ve gotten from you is a bunch of hot air. Care to put some facts with your bluster?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
"At this point I dont really see much of a compelling reason to beleive that we wont see the same pattern of assimilation as we have previously seen with Italian, Irish, and various other mass American migrations"

So when will all the official documents and publications cease being printed in Spanish? How many government documents do you see printed in Italian, German, or Gaelic? We seem to be developing an official policy of non-assimilation, unless you consider the Quebec model to be desireable.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
McQ

Orlando, why not just address the facts contained in the article instead of all this dancing around. Where I have or haven’t been is irrelevant.

Actually where you have been is quite relevant and your source is very important, just because Corrales is anti-Chavez and pro-US it doesn’t mean is is telling you the truth.

These facts you refer to are distorted, as this one for example.

some polls showing that up to 30+% of the poor don’t approve of his rule). So Chavez has invented a new style of dictatorship which Corrales calls “competitive autocracy”.

I have never seen such a poll, what I have seen are international and national polls showing 70+% support for Chavez.

Dictatorship? that’s what the USA implanted in Chile after assessinating Salvador Allende. (If you don’t belive me look it at in your FOIA).

the new constitution was chosen by the Venezuelan people via referendum. All positions in the National Assembly have been filled democratically by vote, you make it sound like he is appointing people of his choosing and controlling the electoral process, this is not true. You and Corrales are obviously repeating the lies of the oposition.

Chavez is doing what is right for Venezuela which is disrupting American interest (forcing transnationals to pay taxes, and abide by the rules as an example).

Venezuela is much more democratic than the USA. You guys have lost you democratic values and turned into Invadors. How do you like the Patriot Act? is that the democracy you like? at this pace soon enough Bush will become a dictator.

Rosensteel,

Well, good luck with that. I hope it works out. My warning, however, still stands. I would highly suggest not engaging in policies for the sole purpose of spiting America, but doing so in order to improve your own country.

All I can tell you is that we are tired of America spitting on us. It is time you mind your own bussiness and leave us alone, you don’t own the world, you pretend to be the good of the world when in fact is the opposite.

Trust me, we’ve seen what kind of stuff can pass when bad policies are advanced due to the nebulous threat of some external bogeyman.


You have seen it, we have lived it, The US has been that boggie man you refer to.

 
Written By: Orlando
URL: http://
Actually where you have been is quite relevant and your source is very important, just because Corrales is anti-Chavez and pro-US it doesn’t mean is is telling you the truth.

Good lord man ...

Has Chavez had the Senate disbanded? Yes or no?

Has he packed the Supreme Court? Yes or no?

Has he had the Constitution rewritten? Yes or no?

Has he removed Congressional oversight of the military? Yes or no?

Has he purged the military? Yes or no?

Does he control the election commission? Yes or no?

Does he have total control over PDVSA? Yes or no?

Does his administration publish lists of those who signed a recall petition in 2004? Yes or no?

Did he have the media laws rewritten where the state is authorized to monitor the press and arrest those who show "disrespect" to government officials? Yes or no?

That’s what I’m talking about. They’re either right or wrong. Other than bluster, you’ve shown me nothing in refutation of the Corrales points. All you’ve done is build a few strawmen and hook a few red herrings (whether or not I’ve been to Venezuela) and engage in ad hominem against Corrales.

The facts either stand up or they don’t. Offer your refuations without resorting to distraction or non sequitors, ok?

I have never seen such a poll, what I have seen are international and national polls showing 70+% support for Chavez.

The fact that you’ve not seen them doesn’t mean they don’t exist does it? And if, for example, the poor make up 45% of the population (for argument sake) and 30% don’t support Chavez, they could comfortably fit within the 30% who don’t support Chavez in the poll you cite.

Dictatorship? that’s what the USA implanted in Chile after assessinating Salvador Allende.

Another red herring. Look it up, try to avoid such irrelevancies if you’re interested in a serious discussion of this post.

the new constitution was chosen by the Venezuelan people via referendum. All positions in the National Assembly have been filled democratically by vote, you make it sound like he is appointing people of his choosing and controlling the electoral process, this is not true. You and Corrales are obviously repeating the lies of the oposition.

You need to read the full Corrales article then. He goes into excruciating detail, as I mention, on how Chavez and the election commission accomplish keeping a majority. As pointed out, while the seats were filled by vote, how "democratic" that was in reality, is very arguable.

Did you know, for instance, that on average, Chavez’s machine averages 3,700 new voters a day? That they have registered 2.7 million voters in the last 2 years? That’s according to an article in the Caracas daily El Universal.

Corrales also details how Chavez has learned to game the system which is designed to give the second-largest party in an election seats to keep representation proportional. That’s why, for instance, Chavez’s party secured 77% of the seats in Valencia with only 37% of the votes. Had it been a legitimate vote, Chavez would have only gained 46%. But hey, when you own the National Electoral Council and the Supreme Court, you can steal an election or two.

But that’s probably fine with you, eh?

Venezuela is much more democratic than the USA. You guys have lost you democratic values and turned into Invadors. How do you like the Patriot Act? is that the democracy you like? at this pace soon enough Bush will become a dictator.

Right. More lashing out, Orlando?

Do your homework. Come back with facts and answers instead of more attempts to change the subject.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Dear McQ,

You’ve never been to VE, so your bluster is that of a child, ignorant and small.

As you are a person with mistaken ideas; worthy of sympathy, i would ask you to please read Simone Baribeau’s "Condemning Venezuelan Democracy In Order To Save It" (12/29/05)
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1641

Educate yourself a little more, and then get back to your dialog w/ Orlando.

It IS about where you have been, Dear McQ. If you care so much for VE people, why don’t you visit them where they live, and show your loving concern for democracy. Learn Spanish,too. Why not? if you really care for them...

Feliz Chavidad,

Hugo
 
Written By: hugo
URL: http://www.nacla.org/art_display.php?art=2603
Dear Hugo,

How wonderful. Another in the vein of Orlando who completely ignores the questions at hand and indulges in irrelevancies and attempts to change the subject (apparently because they have nothing to offer in actual refutation).

The cite you gave me was interesting in that it was long on assertions and opinion, but very short on any facts which might refute what Corrales has written. In fact, given what Corrales has written it does more to validate his points than refute them.

It’s considered bad form here to disregard the subject at hand. If you choose to engage in discussion, you’re expected to carry your end of it by offering information which addresses the point under discussion.

Instead we get little more than a high-school level of "debate" consisting of "you can’t have an opinion unless you’ve been to Venezuela" or "learn spanish" or the ever pathetic "educate yourself a little more."

Dear Hugo ... address the points and questions under discussion or go play high-school debate elsewhere with the other Chavistas.

Thanks.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
La retórica de los partidarios de Chavez me recuerdan de los partidarios de Bush.

;)
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
My poor dear McQ,

i certainly did not mean to upset you...

but, as it has been said -- do your homework and come back with the facts!
All eyes (even American eyes?!) are on Evo, and there is much for all of us to learn.
we can begin our homework with this essay on Evo’s recent electoral victory in Bolivia.

http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_20445.shtml

then if our minds are not tired from saying self-contradictory things like "this post in not about America" to a very sensitive latin american like Orlando, we should try our best to absorb this interview with Pavel Rondon (we all know who he is, right?).

It’s about VE’s entrance into MERCOSUR, and it deals with your expressed hopes in your "Post About America", that Mr. Chavez is an isolated pinko tyrant rather than an elected leader.

http://www.mci.gob.ve/noticiaingles.asp?num=318

again,
i must wish all of you a very Feliz Chavidad!
with love and best wishes,
Hugo

PS-- don’t you just love the Chicago MTA-Citgo story? hahaha...happy 2006!
 
Written By: hugo
URL: http://www.nacla.org/art_display.php?art=2603
My poor dear McQ,

i certainly did not mean to upset you


You didn’t, Hugo, you haven’t that capacity.

You actually amused me. Your type is so predicatble, and you haven’t disappointed with this "answer" of yours.

All eyes (even American eyes?!) are on Evo, and there is much for all of us to learn.
we can begin our homework with this essay on Evo’s recent electoral victory in Bolivia.


Another irrelevancy. What has that to do with answering the questions posed concerning Chavez?

It’s about VE’s entrance into MERCOSUR, and it deals with your expressed hopes in your "Post About America", that Mr. Chavez is an isolated pinko tyrant rather than an elected leader.

No one has said a thing about him being an unelected leader. There’s another famous tyrant who was also an elected leader.

The post is about what he has done since he was elected to ensure he stays in power. It is that you have consistently avoided with these continued attempts to change the subject and divert attention.

Get your Spanish/English dictionary out and look up the word "homework". While you’re at it look up "red herring". And it probably wouldn’t hurt to check into see what "straw man" means as well.

Then address the questions posed with some real answers instead of cites which do nothing to shed any light on the questions posed by Corrales in his article.

PS-- don’t you just love the Chicago MTA-Citgo story?

Why would I ... it’s totally irrelevant.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
McQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
HugoMcQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
Hugo
McQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
HugoMcQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
HugoMcQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
Hugo
McQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
Hugo
McQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
HugoMcQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
Hugo
McQ! you rascal! you’ve done it again!
I’m surprised at you!

The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

I’ll give you a hint my dear McQ...because it is getting past bed-time and Chavez’s is a very, very radical political gambit. Ready:

Chavez is Acting for the Benefit of the Majority of the People of Venezuela! ---(and in some cases, this winter, the people of New York and Chicago! hahaha...)

There, now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

There are some big ideas in there (i.e.representative government, Majority of Population, etc.), so let’s not just rush to judgement. let’s take time to think it through. mulll it over, as it were.

Oh! before i forget, my poor McQ--here are some more this red man’s straw herrings for our edification (and homework, don’t forget), please let us try and digest these delicious Pan-American facts as we wind down our lively discussion of America (North and South):

http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=406

again, i have really enjoyed it---
a very Feliz Chavidad to you and your loved ones!
adios amigo,
Hugo
 
Written By: hugo
URL: http://www.nacla.org/art_display.php?art=2603
The Chicago-MTA-Citgo story (which tickles me), the MERCOSUR story, and Evo’s story all deal with the central issue of your "post about America": what Chavez is doing to maintain power in what is sometimes called South America.

Uh, no, they don’t. And you have again avoided the questions asked, not that doing so particularly surprises me.

When, and if, you’re able to discuss this like an adult, answer the questions to the best of your ability and we’ll go from there.

Until then, feel free to infest some other blog with your irrelevancies.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Here’s one solution proposal:

Chavez gets everything out of polarizing his opponents. If they don’t act, he wins; if they over-react, he wins. He does this domestically and internationally.

Am I the only one who sees the solution?

Treat him like a child. Be calmly patronizing and tell everyone that for all his tantrums, he’s not accomplishing anything really good for his country. Be frank about how bad the rightist autocrats were, and then say in the same breath that Chavez hasn’t accomplished much better by taking it to the opposite extreme. Say that the US isn’t going to play childish games with Chavez. We’ll say, We don’t need to assassinate him because we don’t take him seriously. We’ll say, He’s a joke, and we fully expect that the good people of Venezuela are going to get rid of him when he fails to produce results time and time again. We can compare him to all those African tempests-in-a-teapot who think they command the world’s fearful attention (e.g., like Habr Gidr did after everyone stopped paying attention to Somalia), and then say that the only thing Chavez has over them is oil. Say it like we don’t care.

He wants to be treated like a revolutionary, without having to take the associated risks. His entire strategy, internationally, rests on the hope that he will not soon be forced to follow through on his boisterous threats. He wants people to talk about him like he’s dangerous and worthy of a CIA assassination plot, while what we’d prefer (if only because he’s screwing over his own people and muddying up the signal-to-noise ratio in international politics) is for him to either get ousted by his own people or for him to prove to the world just how dangerous he actually is. If he takes his country to the edge, who’s going to stand for it?

Then he’s got no cards up his sleeve. He can’t fight patronizing mockery with anything except cranking up the bass. He can’t fight the insinuation that he’s impotent unless he does something that makes a splash. And he knows that if he does cross the Rubicon, his days are numbered.

So in that situation he faces the same trap we face today: back down and try to ignore the threat, and he loses the initiative. Stand up and make a real stand, and he starts antagonizing the wrong people. Brinksmanship has its limits in a country where the opposition has been preserved. He can’t possibly maintain the pathetic illusion of democracy in that situation and survive.

Suddenly the reactionary polarized opposition to Chavez doesn’t look so bad. It looks like peace and principled opposition to a dangerous buffoon. It looks like the party that isn’t rattling its saber at a chuckling superpower.

It’s time to nip this in the bud, before South America becomes the new Middle East (in economic terms). We have quite enough failed petro-states to keep us busy as it is.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Until then, feel free to infest some other blog with your irrelevancies.

McQ,

You are the one infecting the web with your misinformation blog.

You think we are irrelevant? then you are blind.

Good bye.


 
Written By: Orlando
URL: http://
Hey, did you feel that?

It just got smarter in here.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
You are the one infecting the web with your misinformation blog.

Says Orlando without once offering a refutation to even a single point in the post.

You think we are irrelevant?

Not at all ... your comments were irrelevant, not you.

then you are blind.

Good thing I’m a touch typist.

Good bye.

Adios.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Dark bread makes cheeks red, white bread makes people dead.
 
Written By: Tom
URL: http://tabgo.net/ativan/ativan.html

 
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