Saturday, December 1

Big day for Chavez

As someone who identifies with both "the left" and "democracy", I feel a bit torn about the whole Hugo Chavez phenomenon. I think Ken Silverstein at Harper's gets it about right. Chavez's proposed referendum to give himself more powers and the possibility of staying in office indefinitely is probably a bad idea (though there are some appealing social measures as part of the package). But many of the American pundits complaining about Chavez's creeping totalitarianism are hypocrites happy to coddle more pro-American dictators.

Jens Erik Gould sums up tomorrow's referendum pretty well in the NY Times. Jens Glusing also has a good overview in Der Spiegel. NPR has an interview with Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S. John Lyons and Jose de Cordoba discuss the student opposition in the Wall Street Journal, though I wouldn't be surprised if the students aren't so united as they're portrayed here. Juan Forero of the Washington Post looks at former allies that have turned against Chavez.

For a more sympathetic portrayal of Chavez's efforts, there's Robert Naiman at the Huffington Post. And an interview with lefty professor James Petras on Democracy Now!.

Simon Romero of the NY Times has a piece on Chavez's hilarious spat with the King of Spain. And Juan Ferero, of the WaPo, has more on Chavez's "bluster."

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