THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT
Derailing Chávez's power grab
Posted on Sun, Aug. 19, 2007
BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER
Chávez, ... announced last week that he will ask (the) National Assembly to change the constitution and
- extend the presidential term from six to seven years and
- allow him to run indefinitely.
- to end the autonomy of the Central Bank, and to
- create a ``popular militia.''
- ..to reduce the workday to six hours --
(this) will go to the National Assembly, where it is likely to be approved by a near-unanimous vote and must be later ratified in a national referendum.
Here's what should be done:
• The Venezuelan opposition should not repeat its mistake of the 2005 congressional elections, when it boycotted the vote citing Chávez's curtailment of campaigning freedoms,
- more powers to use state resources,
- will control virtually all mass media -- especially after his recent de facto takeover of the independent RCTV television network -- and
- will use the army and public employees to get out the vote in the referendum.
But mounting a campaign ... help Venezuela's opposition stay alive,
.. Chávez's escalating narcissism-Leninism is beginning to irk some of his own supporters.
• The 34-country Organization of American States, the Carter Center and other international election monitoring groups should not repeat ...
This time, they should demand to monitor the process starting several months in advance, and certify that the elections are free, rather than simply certifying the Election Day vote counting.
• Brazil and Paraguay, ... have yet to ratify Venezuela's entry into South America's Mercosur trade union, ... allowing Chávez in now would amount to a tacit green light for others -- like Bolivia and Ecuador -- to impose ''constitutional'' dictatorships.
• The United States ... is spending $34 billion a year on oil imports from Venezuela.
The White House should
- impose a $2 a gallon tax on U.S. gasoline imports from petro dictatorships around the world,
- or a 50 percent tax on Hummers and other needlessly gigantic SUVs,
- or demand Detroit carmakers double the fuel efficiency of American cars.