Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sore losers

You may have read elsewhere that Fidel Castro has written to Hugo Chavez congratulating the Venezuelan strongman for the “dignified” way in which he accepted the defeat of the constitutional referendum.

According to the ailing 81-year-old dictator, Chavez behaved as you would expect from a true Latin American “socialist” - with great dignity and ethics. An example to us all ...

Well, that’s one side of the story.

The other, much more credible side of the story is published today by the Spanish daily El Mundo, which reveals that far from dignified, Chavez went berserk when he was told the preliminary results of the vote.

An incredulous Chavez lashed out at his advisers, who had assured him that the constitutional amendments would get through without any problems – even before a single vote had been cast.

“This can’t be right,” the Venezuelan president yelled at the advisers when they had to admit that in fact, the proposals had been rejected by a majority of voters. “This is an illogical result.”

Which is exactly the type of response you'd expect from a Latin American "socialist" who counts Fidel Castro as his mentor.
What’s more, El Mundo reveals that the results of the vote were delayed by several hours because Chavez refused to concede publicly - until he was “pressured” by senior military advisers to do the right thing and face the cameras.

How is that for dignified and ethical?


Anonymous realpolitik said...

Well, by Castro standards, that was very dignified indeed. Of course, Castro would have never let himself get in such a position, since he has never believed in leaving anything up to what the people really want. It's called totalitarian rule, with a generous helping of egomania for good measure.

3:04 am  
Blogger Walter Lippmann said...

While I hate to repeat myself, what at the current message applies every bit as much to this one. Castro came to power in an armed revolution because Batista had cancelled the previously scheduled democratic elections.

Chavez tried a military coup against a democratically-elected government. That failed and he want to jail. Then he tried to get elected, and he GOT elected.

He's won every vote since then until Saturday. So he loses one round, so what? Venezuela has a functioning democracy. What's to complain about with that?

Chavez Defeat or Blessing?

Much coverage of the recent constitutional amendment referendum in Venezuela has called the results a defeat for Chavez.

But is it really?

Chavez is still in office until 2013. He has plenty of time to implement his proposals through different channels or even revise them and try another referendum. He responded to the results by saying, “for now were unable to do it.”

But more importantly what makes this actually a positive outcome for Chavez is that it proves once and for all that he is NOT a dictator and does not control all branches of government.

It also demonstrates the legitimacy of his mandate and the validity of the many referendums that have turned out in his favor over the past near decade and projects legitimacy onto future electoral contests.

Moreover, it proves that the opposition DOES have peaceful avenues for change. They can no longer justify their violence and sabotage. In fact, Chavez stated that he preferred to concede loss with a “photo finish” than to win by a tiny margin. (49.3% voted with Chavez vs. 51.7% against his proposals).

For Venezuela as a whole it shows that the electorate is sophisticated enough to not just vote on popularity. Chavistas who did not agree with the entire reform package for whatever reason did not just vote yes because of their loyalty to Chavez. This crushes the image concocted by pundits that Chavistas are just mindless fans of the populist superstar. This demonstration further validates his mandate.

Democracy, and Chavez, continues to thrive in Venezuela.

3:39 am  
Anonymous tell me another one said...

History can be so interesting--even more so when it's conveniently rewritten to suit one's argument. Nobody was more opposed to an electoral solution to the Batista problem than Castro. He didn't want to run the risk that an election could replace Batista with someone other than himself, which was of course NOT acceptable, not even if Jose Marti or Antonio Maceo had been available for the job. Castro went so far as to state that he would not recognize the results of any presidential election, NOT EVEN AN HONEST ONE (his words).

Ah, sycophants...they typically try too hard, like people who pile on the sugar, and the result is not so much sweet as sickening.

2:47 am  

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