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As casualties mounted, the military high command rebelled, demanding Chavez’s resignation. The following day the head of the Armed Forces announced that the president had resigned. Chavez was taken into military custody, and flown to a prison on the island of La Orchila. Pedro Carmona Estanga, a strike organizer, was named head of a transitional government. Latin American countries, however, refused to recognize the new government, and Chavistas mounted counter-demonstrations. Within 48 hours the coup was over, and Chavez was restored to power.
Later that year opponents launched a violent nine-week strike that wrecked the already fragile economy. But Chavez again ignored demands that he step down. Finally, last August, after a two-year struggle to get a recall measure on the ballot, Venezuelans went to the polls to decide whether the president should serve out the remaining two-and-a-half years of his term. Peasants were told that if Chavez did not win they would no longer receive their “help.” Fifty-nine percent of voters returned Chavez to office, and Jimmy Carter certified the election as fair.p> Chapter 4 br> In which our hero silences the dread opposition /p>
“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” is the president’s nickname for Venezuela’s four major TV networks. Last month, Chavez took steps to muzzle the networks’ frequent criticism of his government by passing the “Social Responsibility in TV and Radio Act,” a new law condemned by human rights groups for threatening freedom of expression. The law makes it a criminal offense to insult or show disrespect for the president and other government authorities. Media outlets will face heavy fines or closure if they step outside the law. Chavez has also created his own state television network broadcast throughout Latin America. Individual journalists, meanwhile, report that they are regularly harassed, arrested, tear-gassed, fire-bombed, and shot at by Chavez’s thugs.
But perhaps the most effective way to muzzle criticism of the government is to simply stack the courts with your supporters. In August 2002, Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled that there was not enough evidence to proceed with the trials of the coup leaders. In response, Chavez enlarged the Supreme Court from 20 to 32 members. Now with the courts in his hip pocket, Chavez is free to go after anyone who dares oppose him. Last month it was Carlos Ayala Corao, a distinguished jurist and human rights activist. Criminal proceedings were begun against Ayala after he expressed concern at the situation of risk and stigmatization affecting human rights defenders. “This is a clear-cut case of political persecution, targeting someone who has been an effective critic of the Chavez government’s human rights record,” said Human Rights Watch’s Americas Director Jose Vivanco. Ayala is accused of participating in the 2002 coup against Chavez, when in fact Ayala had been defending a pro-Chavez congressman during the coup. “This case signals that the Venezuelan authorities have now decided to resort to criminal prosecutions as a tool to harass government critics, Vivanco said.
Venezuela’s attorney general is now considering charges against more than 200 people for politically motivated offenses, a number that is expected to rise considerably.p> Chapter 5 br> In which our hero dreams of a “Greater Colombia” /p>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online