May 07, 2006

Reflections of a Despot


From FoxNews: Chavez Proposes Referendum to Stay President Until 2031.

President Hugo Chavez said that if opposition parties boycott December's presidential election he would call a referendum asking voters to decide whether he should govern Venezuela for the next 25 years.

Speaking Saturday at a stadium packed with supporters in central Lara state, Chavez rejected allegations he was a power-hungry tyrant but said he might seek to extend his rule beyond current term limits if the opposition pulls out of the presidential vote, as it did last year's congressional election. ...

The Venezuelan Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. Chavez is eligible for re-election to another six-year term in December, but if he wins he wouldn't be able to run again in 2012.

It wasn't clear if Chavez, 51, was talking about holding a legally binding vote to eliminate limits on re-election or proposing a plebiscite. Before Chavez took the stage, thousands of his supporters chanted: "Oh, no! Chavez won't go!"

Opposition leaders accuse Chavez, a former paratroop commander first elected in 1998, of becoming increasingly authoritarian and opening dangerous divisions along class lines in Venezuela — the world's fifth largest oil exporter.

Chavez supporters won all 167 seats in the National Assembly on Dec. 4 after major opposition parties boycotted the election, saying they did not trust Venezuela's electoral system or the country's elections council. The opposition has raised doubts about the nation's electoral registry, an electronic voting system and electoral audits conducted by the council.

UPDATE I -- May 8: From Mosnews: Venezuela Signs $2Bln Oil Deal with Russia to Avoid Default on its Contracts. (via Chuck Salvi at HB List)

Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, has struck a $2 billion deal to buy about 100,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Russia until the end of the year, the British Financial Times reported on Friday, April 28.

Venezuela has been forced to turn to its ally Russia, because the Latin American country faces a shortfall in its own production, a person familiar with the deal told the paper. This in turn puts the country in risk of defaulting on contracts with “clients” and “third parties”. Venezuela could incur penalties if it fails to meet its supply contracts. ...

Under President Hugo Chavez, PDVSA’s oil output has declined by about 60 percent, a trend analysts say has accelerated in the past year because of poor technical management. Chavez’s push to extend his influence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean with promises of cheap oil for friends and allies may be overstretching PDVSA’s finances, however. Venezuela currently supplies about 300,000 barrels per day of oil and products to Cuba, Nicaragua and others under favorable long-term financing arrangements.

UPDATE II -- May 9: The Charlotte Capitalist notices that Chavez is not the only one who uses gasoline to loot.

Posted by Forkum at May 7, 2006 05:05 PM