Simon Bolívar, Venezuela’s founding father after whom Hugo Chaves named his “revolution” and renamed the country, said in 1819: “Nothing is as dangerous as allowing the same citizen to remain in power for a long time… That’s the origin of usurpation and tyranny”. Chaves’ take on that? He’s getting presidential term limits abolished.
In an election last weekend, 55 percent of voters approved a referendum allowing Chavez to run for office again. And again, and again…
He’s already been in power for what can be considered a long time and has in practice erased the separation of powers, which is not only foundational to a democracy but is definitely necessary to deter high-level corruption.
Not surprisingly, media reports show that kickbacks, bribes and secret payoffs have become a feature of the Venezuelan government (including, it seems, the referendum campaign itself where state resources were used to drive votes).
One clear demonstration is the case of a Venezuelan American man instructed by Chaves’ government to smuggle US$800,000 into Buenos Aires, destined to Argentinian political allies.
The New York Times published an analysis about how abolishing term limits is not enough and how Chaves’ plans face serious challenges, particularly from oil prices and an opposition that is not going away.
Unfortunately, there no longer are any real obstacles to corruption in Venezuela. If only Chaves listened to Bolívar instead of just setting chairs aside for his ghost in political meetings…
— Hazel Feigenblatt