I have to admit that I was not following this event closely and, depending on where you got your information, it was either a set of very sensible reforms or mad grab at power. That said, Chavez has once again shown that he respects the democratic process as well as the rule of law. Musharraf didn’t ask before seizing undemocratic powers, Putin seems to have rigged the most recent vote in Russia, and a host of US clients in the Middle East would be terrified by free and fair elections.
Yet if you watch what comes out of Washington and sympathetic press organs, Chavez is constantly cast in a much worse light than any of the others I mentioned. The way that Bush defends Musharraf in particular makes me think that Pervez is his abusive husband – it’s sad because no one believes but you get the sense that Bush clings to his fantasy of Musharraf the democratic leader. My instincts these days leave me very suspicious at any increase in centralized executive powers, but I feel confident that if Venezuela does give Chavez more power, it will be a fair, democratic decision.