Threats in Venezuela

Por Venezuela Real - 15 de Noviembre, 2006, 20:17, Categoría: Electorales

Editorial
Miami Herald
November 15, 2006

OUR OPINION: CHAVEZ'S ELECTION ABUSE VIOLATES DEMOCRATIC PREMISES

Imagine an election where government revenues are used to buy campaign ads and government workers are threatened with dismissal if they vote for the wrong candidate. These practices would be illegal in any self-respecting democracy -- and they also violate the very premise of free elections. Yet this is the heavy-handed scenario that exists in Venezuela today.

This evidence of President Hugo Chávez's abuse of power comes only weeks before the Dec. 3 presidential election. A blurry video provided by opposition members shows the head of the state oil company, PDVSA, threatening workers at a meeting. ''Here we are helping Chávez, who is our leader, who is the maximum leader of this revolution,'' Rafael Ramírez says.  "And we are going to do all that we have to do in order to
help our president. And whoever doesn't feel comfortable with this idea should give up his job.''
Afterward, Mr. Chávez reinforced Mr. Ramírez's threat, noting that other government workers, like the military, were revolutionary, too. ''PDVSA workers are in the revolution, and whoever is not, it's better they go somewhere else,'' Mr. Chavez said.  "Let them go to Miami.''

Mr. Chávez already controls Venezuela's Supreme Court, National Assembly and electoral council. He has sweeping power over Venezuela's media. He is using all this power to secure an electoral victory against opposition candidate Manuel Rosales.

While it's not unusual for incumbents to use their power to win elections in any country, Mr. Chávez has destroyed the institutions that, in most democratic countries, act as a check on executive abuse.
The Organization of American States should take a close look at this election. It isn't a free, fair or democratic process when the opposition has no chance of winning.





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