Chavez in Full view.(COMMENTARY)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

Chavez in Full view.(COMMENTARY)

Byline: Constantine C. Menges, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The recent events in Venezuela were dramatic. Yet much of the discussion in the United States began and ended with the fact that President Hugo Chavez had been democratically elected in 1998. Ignored were his record of anti-democratic governance since taking office in 1999, his alliances with terrorist partner states like Cuba, Iraq and Iran, his sponsorship of state terrorism and the implications of these facts for the future.

On April 9-10, hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters from pro-democratic political parties, labor unions, and business and civic associations marched in the Venezuelan capital to show their opposition to the latest anti-democratic actions of Mr. Chavez.

In response, Mr. Chavez mobilized his paramilitary armed thugs, the "Bolivarian Circles," and they were televised shooting the unarmed protesters, killing and wounding more than 100 while others sped around Caracas on motorcycles looking for journalists to attack. Mr. Chavez also sent armed supporters to close down television stations reporting of the protests.

When Mr. Chavez ordered the military to use force to halt the peaceful demonstrations, 30 senior officers refused to obey. They said Mr. Chavez had violated "democratic principles" and that they would no longer recognize his authority because they wanted to "avoid more spilling of blood and the destruction of our brave people and their institutions." From their point of view, those military leaders were joining a broad-based civic movement calling for the end of an emerging Chavez dictatorship, just as had occurred in 1945 and again in 1958 when a civil-military coalition removed a dictator and Venezuela began its four decades as a political democracy.

Understanding the reasons all the pro-democratic groups in Venezuela oppose Mr. Chavez requires a brief review of his anti-democratic actions, which have been little noted outside of Venezuela.

Mr. Chavez moved Venezuela through four principal phases. First, the use of illegal and pseudo-legal means to invalidate the existing constitution (in force since 1961) and have a new constitution written by his supporters (1999). Second, under the new constitution, having himself eligible to be president for two six-year terms and obtaining a unicameral legislature that would give him dominant federal powers (2000). Third, beginning his "social revolution" by using presidential decrees in the fall of 2001 to begin confiscating private property.

The fourth phase began in January when Mr. Chavez established the Political Command of the Revolution under his direct control to supervise the "Bolivarian Circles," an armed militia of Chavez supporters who would intimidate and if necessary seek to defeat the political-civic opposition and the Venezuelan armed forces. This was intended to assure his indefinite continuation in power.

In a March television appearance, Mr. Chavez announced his decision to allocate $150 million from the federal budget to his armed thugs. This was illegal because the legislature had not given its approval.

The pseudo-legal ending of the existing democratic political system began in April 1999 when Mr. Chavez called a referendum to decide whether a Constituent Assembly should be convened to write a new constitution for Venezuela. The major democratic parties did not feel there was any need for a new constitution, but demoralized and intimidated, they made virtually no effort to contest the issue. The lack of citizen support for a new constitution was seen in the fact that only 39 percent of the Venezuelan electorate voted in the referendum.

In July 1999, elections were held to choose the delegates for the Constituent Assembly. Chavez supporters were confident, active and intimidating, while those representing the pro-democratic parties were fearful and only beginning to return to political activity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Chavez in Full view.(COMMENTARY)


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.