Leave it to Chavecito. Less than three days after “losing” the constitutional referendum, we find out why he was able to take it in such good grace when many of his most ardent supporters were disconsolate. And don’t be surprised if those supporters decide to pick up his dropped reform proposal and make it their own, especially after this:
The Venezuelan people have the capacity to modify and newly present the constitutional reform proposal defeated in the referendum on December 2, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday, during a telephone call to the popular political commentary program La Hojilla (the Razorblade) on the Venezuelan state TV channel VTV.
During his phone call, Chavez reflected on the referendum results and affirmed that he had lost the right to introduce a constitutional reform proposal. However, he said, “the Venezuelan people have the power and the right to present a request for constitutional reform before this [presidential] term finishes, of which there is still five years.”
Under the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999, the President, the National Assembly or 15 percent of registered voters have the right to present a proposal for constitutional reform.
The Venezuelan people, Chavez emphasized, could present another reform proposal “next year or in three years.”
“It doesn’t have to be exactly the same,” he continued, “It can be in the same direction, but in a different form, improved and simplified, because I have to accept that the reform that we presented was very complex. And in the debate it became more complex. This was utilized by our adversaries and we lacked the capacity to explain it.”
Imagine that–a living constitution! And it has been one since it was first written and ratified in 1999! And most interestingly of all, it enshrines the right of the people to rewrite any of its articles if they can get enough popular support to do so. They don’t need the permission of anyone On High; they just need to get a petition going, and have 15% of registered voters sign on.
BTW, this right is enshrined in the same constitution that a cadre of present-day prominent opposition leaders suspended outright in the coup of ’02. Spot the antidemocrats and wannabe dictators!
And then, just to add insult to injury for the opposition, there’s this:
During his concession speech in the early hours of Monday morning Chavez conceded that perhaps the timing of the reform proposal was wrong. However, pointing to the extremely narrow margin of the opposition victory, he declared on La Hojilla, “Despite it being an early offensive, we nearly won!”
“We will consolidate this strength and increase this strength and then there will come a new offensive, that can achieve it through popular means,” he assured.
Chavez said he hoped the people would take up this initiative, while maintaining the principle objective; “the transformation of the state.”
Man, if that’s not enough to bury the “incipient dictator” bullshit, I don’t know what is. Imagine, he’s been a legitimately popular leader all along! And now we know why–he has confidence in the courage and wisdom of his own people! He’s not afraid to hand the baton to them. Imagine what will happen if they grab it and run with it. My golly, who will the international whore media slam as a “strongman” when at least 15% of the Venezuelan electorate takes charge of the process while the president stands aside and lets them?
BTW, Chavecito’s confidence is not misplaced, even if the opposition is all of 20% of the electorate. Remember, the reform proposal, once presented, has to garner a majority vote in a national referendum. Meaning, the oligarchy can’t just rewrite the constitution to suit themselves and expect to get away with it. Their proposal is virtually guaranteed to be trounced.
Besides, from simple observation of their overall pattern, one can see that the oppos haven’t an original thought in their heads, and if they presented a reform proposal at all (which I doubt they would!), it would be larded with all the old items the people have overwhelmingly rejected, from the privatization of all social programs and the state oil company PDVSA, to the imposition of a fully deregulated economy in which only the sharks can prosper. Stupidly, there are still people in Venezuela who equate THAT with “freedom and democracy”, when in fact it condemns a majority to poverty with no hope and no way out.
And I wouldn’t be at all sure that their “state of emergency” provisions wouldn’t be many times more repressive than Chavecito’s proposal. Remember the coup of ’02? Hello–complete suspension of democracy? No accurate news reporting whatsoever? Strict censorship of all things Chavista from the TV–“cero chavismo en pantalla”? Thuggish break-ins at alternative and community media outlets, the cutting of community radio stations, and a shutdown of Channel 8? Yeah, tell me the people would vote for THAT.
Little wonder that Chavecito is unbowed, and downright buoyant. You can’t keep a good president down!