First, any person who attempts to stay in power for ever is dangeous. No limits for reelection, at least in Latinamerica, is extremely problematic from the democracy point of view. I'm not just talking about Chavez. I would apply the same reasoning for Uribe, esp. now that some Uribe's supportes are trying to reform the Constitution to allow him to run for another term. And I thought exactly the same with Menem in Argentina. I don't take seriously the argument "it's what people want". People may want many things (some good, some bad). The political system is just better off when presidents cannot stay for ever in power.
Respecting sovereignty is the mother of all democratic principles. The truth is if Venezuelans vote in favour of Chavez's constitutional reforms, that is pure and simple Democracy whether you like it or not. Its their sovereign right to do so. Further, the process is undeniably democratic. You disagree with the principle of electing a president without term limits, but whose decision is that to make? Those of Venezuelans, not yours.
You can hate the result, but you can't say its "undemocratic". Your argument is similar to the argument the Americans used when they overthrew Salvador Allende in Chile - the people democratically voted for someone they didn't like and suddenly it wasn't "real democracy" just because he was a communist.
Second, I assume you really don't know the political climate in Venezuela. THe opposition leaders are constantly haraseed, people who marches are beaten up, the State is messing up badly with private schools. It so funny to some some people from the left ignoring the beating up of students who demonstrate against their government. I'd love to see the reactions if Sarkozy did the same.
Honey, I used to work for the Embassy of Venezuela and Ive been to Venezuela several times.
Exactly how many proven acts of beating up of students are you talking about? Very few, I imagine, the amount of beating up that would naturally happen in any country when marches are going on and things get out of hand.
As for the harassment, the key to understanding Venezuela is understanding the level of Class tension that has existed there for decades. The opposition , which represents the upper class, and most university students pertain to this class, hate Chavez, whereas the rest of the country, the poorer class, loves him. There's no real middle class to compromise the two.
In such a country, clashes are unavoidable.
The thing that matters is that Chavez is allowing these marches to go on, like any democratic leader would. Its nothing at all like what is happening in Burma, where people are being imprisoned without trial and getting tortured and killed by the government, although the Opposition in Venezuela talk as if that were exactly the case.
Theyre just being shrill.
Third, the creator of the thread did not say "Chavez is a dictator".What he says is that Venezuela is heading for a dictatorship, which is quite different. In my view, he's clearly right. Venezuela is heading for a typical Latinamerican dictatorship, with a combination of extreme left and extreme right ideology (Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican writter, is right when he defines Chavez as a tropical Mussolini). The time will say who was right.
"Heading for a dictatorship" what is that supposed to mean? Presenting reforms for the people of Venezuela to vote on democratically is a certain path to dictatorship? What makes you think he would stage a coup if he loses the referendum...??? Your own little opinion?? Pfff, you may think you are being rational but the truth is youve long equated Chavez with being a dictator a long time ago and are trying to match reality to your heavily biased ideas.
Funny, for a man who espouses such hardy principles of democracy, the concept of "innocent till proven guily" has cleanly gone over your head. There isn't a single thing Chavez has done to step out of the bounds of reasonable democracy in submitting his proposals to the people. A true dictator wouldnt have even bothered holding a referendum.