Notice to Chavistas: You can stop trying to come up with excuses for Hugo Chavez’s decree requiring Venezuelans to comply with requests for information from the secret police or pro-Chavez community groups.
The New York Times reports:
On the same day Colombia said it had captured a Venezuelan national guard officer carrying 40,000 AK-47 assault rifle cartridges believed to be intended for leftist guerrillas, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said Saturday he would withdraw a decree overhauling intelligence policies that he had made earlier that week.
The rare reversal by Mr. Chávez came amid intensifying criticism in Venezuela from human rights groups.
Amid festering tension with Colombia, including claims that Colombian paramilitaries were fomenting destabilization plots, President Chávez quietly unveiled his intelligence law in late May, which would have abolished the DISIP secret police and DIM military intelligence, replacing them with new intelligence and counterintelligence agencies.
But in a rare act of self-criticism on Saturday, Mr. Chávez acknowledged the ire that his intelligence overhaul had provoked among legal scholars and human rights groups, which said Mr. Chávez was attempting to introduce a police state by forcing judges to cooperate with intelligence services and criminalizing dissent.
“Where we made mistakes we must accept that and not defend the indefensible,” Mr. Chávez said at a campaign rally in Zulia State for gubernatorial and mayoral candidates from his Socialist party. “There is no dictatorship here,” he continued. “No one here is coerced into saying more than they want to say.”
I’m pleased Chavez is still capable of responding to public pressure and reversing himself when he does especially stupid things. But he’s really making it hard for some of his erstwhile enthusiasts, who are perfectly glad to defend whatever Chavez does, up until the moment El Presidente himself declares it indefensible. Stephen Lendman at the pro-Chavez website venezuelananalysis.com posted a long apologia for the decree:
It’s long overdue and urgently needed given the Bush administration’s tenure winding down and its determination in its remaining months to end the Bolivarian project and crush its participatory democracy.
It will insure greater “national security” and protect against “imperialist attacks” as Chavez explained. It’s to preserve Bolivarianism against persistent attempts to destroy it. It’s to serve all Venezuelans, advance a new 21st century vision, and put people ahead of privilege. It’s to counter Bush administration efforts to restore neoliberalism, return the old order, and destroy social justice in the region’s most model democracy.
Let’s see if Lendman will now denounce Chavez for caving in to criticism of the “urgently needed” law. Is it no less urgently needed now, Stephen?
Update: And now Chavez seems to be cutting his losses with FARC too:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged Colombian rebels on Sunday to lay down their weapons, unilaterally free dozens of hostages and put an end to a decades-long armed struggle against Colombia’s government.
Chavez sent the uncharacteristically strong message to the leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, saying their ongoing efforts to overthrow Colombia’s democratically elected government were unjustified.
“The guerrilla war is history,” said Chavez, speaking during his weekly television and radio program, “Hello President.”
“At this moment in Latin America, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place.”
Such declarations were unexpected from Chavez, a self-described socialist who earlier this year called on world governments to remove the FARC from terrorist lists and suggested the guerrillas should be recognized as a legitimate insurgent force.
Wow. How much more of this will Chavez’s “revolutionary” sycophants put up with?