disrespects the President of the Republic, or whomeveris fulfilling his duties, will be punished with six to 30months in prison if the offense is serious, and half that
if it is light.” Journalists who “expose another person tocontempt or public hatred” can receive a prison
sentence of one to three years.
The new code also specifies, incredibly, that anyonecharged with these crimes will not be entitled to legaldue process.
The crime of “civil rebellion” in Venezuela carries a
minimum 12-year and maximum 25-year sentence. Sowhat if Argentina had such a statute when PresidentChavez led violent protests there, in Mar del Plataduring the Summit of the Americas, with out of controlprotestors throwing rocks and bottles, and burning U.S.flags?
Self-serving agendas are the earmarks of adictatorship. Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U.S.soldier killed in Iraq, hailed Chavez last week in
Venezuela, stating: “I admire him for his resolve
government and it’s meddling.” Too,Sheehan has called her son’s killers in Iraq “freedomfighters.”
Chavez responded by saying, “Down with the U.S.
empire! It must be said in the entire world, down with
Idols bearing gifts through oil wealth attract influence.As well, assisting financially strapped countries, such asArgentina and Cuba with debt assistance may look goodin photo opportunities and buy favors. However a piedpiper who perilously gathers all state power in his ownhands is hardly a prophet.
The United Nations Population Fund says that some 222million people are poor in Latin America and the
Caribbean, over 43 percent of the region’s population,
with 96 million living in extreme poverty. And freemarket policies are not popular in situations where
diverse income gaps make an area the world’s least
What is particularly disturbing about unchecked powerin the leadership of Venezuela is the manner in whichvast wealth from oil revenue can be used as bait to gaincompliance or favors. By extension, what is to prevent
a nation’s infrastructure (stockpiled production, oil
facilities and related mechanisms) from being