Busting the myth of democracy in Venezuela

authentic-democracy(Note: for this piece, we recruited economist Richard Obuchi.)

FACT: on February 18, 2014, after a week of intense anti-government demonstrations all across the country, President Maduro attended a rally with oil-sector workers. In his speech he said “in Venezuela there are full democratic freedoms. We just had elections 8 weeks ago, or am I lying?” Minutes later he added “I ask the whole world, where in the world have there been 19 elections in the last 15 years?”

This has been a central message of the revolutionary government, gaining particular strength in the last few months. But, how truthful is it?

CONTEXT: Article 2 of the Venezuelan Constitution defines the country as a democratic state.  Article 63 establishes that “voting is a right,” and article 66 establishes that voters “have the right to have their representatives offer transparent and regular public accounts about their management efforts, according to the program submitted.” These articles are the basis of the idea that Venezuela is a democracy.

Since February 12, 2014, the country has been living under intense political tension marked by protests, violence and repression. Participants and promoters of these protests have upheld various motives and objectives -generally lacking clarity- but with a common denominator: they oppose Nicolas Maduro’s government because of the country’s serious inflation, shortages and criminal violence.

After almost two weeks of protests, there are complaints about violations of Constitutional and other Human Rights, media censorship and blockages to social networks, and the excessive use of force by the Central Government, including arbitrary detentions and alleged torture.

DEBUNKING THE ARGUMENT: equating multiple elections with the existence of a democratic state has been a key message of the Central Government for the past 15 years. In fact, elections –an average of 1.3 per year since 1999- have been used to justify all of the Central Government’s acts, and to answer to criticism about its political model. But, are elections the only element of a democracy?

Polity IV is a project of the Center for Systemic Peace, which codifies characteristics of political regimes in order to classify them –in opposite extremes- as “Institutionalized Democracies” or “Autocratic Regimes”. To formulate the indicator, Polity IV considers the election mechanism for the Executive Power (meaning regulations, competition and open participation); institutional constraints on the exercise of power by the Executive Power; and the degree of regulation and political competition.

It must be said the, even though they are not included in Polity IV, other key factors in a democracy are the guarantee of civil rights, the rule of law, accountability, and freedom of the press.

GráficoInglés_PolityIVEven though President Maduro claims that the 19 elections held in Venezuela between 1999 and 2013 confirm Venezuela’s democratic nature, in truth the country’s political system tends toward an autocratic regime.

Unequal conditions to participate in elections. Since 1999 we have had 1.3 elections per year, and in every occasion the Central Government and the National Electoral Council (CNE) have highlighted the reliability of the electoral system.

Although since at least 2005, not even the opposition has questioned if the sum of ballots was subject to vices or electronic fraud, there are those who report problems regarding campaign conditions and irregularities during Election Day.

In the particular case of the presidential campaign of April 2013, the opposition’s Comando Simon Bolivar presented 222 allegations of violations of electoral rules by the Central Government. These included the use of public resources to finance pro-government advertisement and events, the use of children for campaign purposes, and unbalanced broadcasting by state own media.

For example, between April 2 and 10, 2013, during the climax of the electoral campaign, VTV broadcast a cumulative 6 hours of speeches by the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, while Nicolás Maduro had over 65 hours of broadcast.

Also, among the irregularities registered by Comando Simon Bolivar during Election Day -April 14, 2013-, the stand-outs were the “assisted vote,” the violence inside and out voting centers and the forceful removal of opposition witnesses.

Citizens can express their preferences, but what’s the cost? The Central Government often argues that everyone in Venezuela can freely express opinions against it. But in fact, those who express dissent must assume consequences well beyond being immediately qualified as squalid one”, “traitor to the homeland”, “bourgeois”, “imperialist” or “fascist”.

For example, those who signed to support a Recall Referendum against Hugo Chavez in 2004 were included in the list known as “Tascón” or “Maisanta”, and consequently were fired from public offices, blocked from job opportunities related to the public sector, and benefits from social programs were denied to them.

Political discrimination from the Central Government has continued, including threats made to workers from the oil sector by Rafael Ramirez in 2006 or to employees of the Ministry of Housing by Ricardo Molina in 2013.

There have also been allegations of threats to voters during elections, and as a matter of fact, this is one of the reasons why results from the 2013 presidential elections were challenged by the opposition. There are even some who have criticized the Central Government from the ranks of chavismo and have had to assume some costs. Among them, Nicmer Evans, a pro-government political scientist, had his TV and radio shows cancelled after criticizing some decisions made by Maduro’s administration.

On the other hand, there are plenty of examples that show how expressing favorable opinions and loyalty to chavismo’s project seems to be rewarded, and even more, those in positions of power face little chance of facing judicial actions against them: corruption allegations are dropped, running over a protester is established as an “accident”, or the calling to a “withering counterattack” is not considered as incitement to violence even if the result is several people wounded and one dead.

The Executive has unlimited power. The legal framework of the 1999 Constitution increased the power given to the Executive –such as more control of the President over the Armed Forces- but also reduced checks and balances into decision-making –such as the substitution of a two-chamber legislature by a single chamber system, whereby the Senate was eliminated. In 2007, the late President Chavez proposed a constitutional reform that would have extended even more the powers of the Executive into every realm of national life.

Even though it was rejected, in 2009 a constitutional amendment was approved to allow for the unlimited reelection of government officials by popular vote, including the President.

Meanwhile, it is clear that the Executive maintains control over the other Public Powers. For example, it has had legislative powers in 5 occasions through enabling laws.The late government representative Carlos Escarrá actually said “we also don’t accept the separation of powers, since it weakens the Executive and the government’s efficiency” (El Universal, Aug/29/2010).

Also, Luisa Estela Morales, in December 2010, while she was President of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) said that “we can’t keep thinking of a separation of powers because that is a principle that weakens the state”, while proposing the revision of this constitutional principle (Informe21, Dec/05/2009).

A relevant example of the predominance of the Executive is the recent arrest and imprisonment of opposition leader Leopoldo López. Putting aside the procedural irregularities claimed by his legal team, López is in jail because the President wanted him there. Nicolás Maduro said during a speech broadcast by mandatory national broadcast on February 20, 2014, that Lopez “is in jail as I said he would be, thanks to the courts and the prosecution”.

Fewer civil liberties guaranteed. The vast majority of civil, social, cultural, economic, and political rights in the Constitution are not guaranteed, and in fact have been violated by the Central Government itself, either through action or omission.

Among these violations, the stand-outs are those concerning personal freedom, physical, mental and moral integrity, fair defense and legal assistance, public safety, property rights, freedom of expression, access to information, protection of honor and private life, and the rights to protest. The exercise of civil liberties should not be selective.

To give some examples, although the security forces are entitled to arresting those who are a risk to public order and the safety of others, their physical integrity must be respected and protected. Since February 12th, 2014 and up until today, many protests led by students across the country have been harshly repressed resulting in a large number of arrests, injuries, even torture, and very sadly, deaths.

Up to the morning of February 24, 2014, Foro Penal Venezolano, a local NGO, reported 539 detentions, of which 200 were released without even being presented in court, 138 were undergoing penal procedures, 19 had received the penalty of deprivation of liberty, around 50 were still waiting for their hearings and only 10 had regained full extent of their liberty. Later that day, 60 others were arrested.

In Venezuela there seems to be no rule of law or accountability. It is not surprising that Venezuela is the 3rd country with the weakest rule of law in the world, largely due to the already mentioned lack of autonomy of Public institutions. Additionally, fiscal account management, para-fiscal funds, the currency allocation system, and official statistics are all a “black box”, thus, a fertile breeding ground for corruption.

By the end of 2013, Venezuela was ranked the most corrupt country in Latin America, and the 15th most corrupt country in the world (amongst 177 countries). It should be noted that the Central Government has made indiscriminate use of public resources according to their electoral interests.

Between 2010 and 2012, the period prior to the last two presidential elections, Venezuela registered ​​a nominal increase in public spending of 99%, reaching a fiscal deficit of the Central Government Budget of 4.9% of GDP. Moreover, public debt of the Central Government Budget increased by 47% between 2010 and 2012, going from U.S. $ 2,490 per capita to U.S. $ 3,542 per capita.

In Venezuela there is little freedom of press. Article 58 of the Constitution establishes that “every person has the right to timely, accurate and impartial information, without censorship”. This means that it’s not enough for the Central Government to inform, but that independent media should also be allowed to provide information.

Reporters Without Borders places Venezuela in the 117th position amongst 179 countries regarding freedom of press. Also, between 2002 and 2013, the NGO Espacio Público reported 418 cases of censorship, reaching a high record in 2013 with 77 cases. In 2013 alone there were 219 cases of violation of freedom of expression.

By 2014, the situation had deteriorated: on the one hand, restrictions in the allocation of currency have caused some printed journals to stop publishing because of the lack of paper, while other journals keep publishing but reducing the count of pages printed. And private national TV and radio stations have been keeping a self-imposed censorship to protect their possibility to broadcast, while the Central Government blocks international media channels such as NTN24.

The CNN case also stands out:  on February 20, 2014, Nicolas Maduro informed during a mandatory broadcast that the Central Government had begun an administrative procedure to “get them out of Venezuela” if they didn’t change their editorial line regarding the protests in the country.

The next day, The National Union of Press Workers (SNTP for its acronym in Spanish) reported through Twitter that the Ministry of Information and Communication (Minci) had revoked some of the CNN correspondents’ credentials to work in Venezuela, only to return them 24 hours later. Of course, we should also mention that the government has allegedly blocked weg pages, some Twitter contents and internet and phone service in Táchira.

The situation has deeply deteriorated since the protests began: between February 12 and 20, 2014 –the first 9 days of protests-, NGO Espacio Público reported 43 cases and 72 violations of freedom of speech, which equates to 8 violations per day.

***

Elections are necessary, but not sufficient for the existence of a democratic system. Since the main distortion experienced by the national system is the lack of autonomy of powers, it is important for citizens to make real use of their political rights, and in case of conflict defend those rights, such as the right to protest. Despite the statement by Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela is not a strongly democratic country.

42 thoughts on “Busting the myth of democracy in Venezuela

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  1. 

Also provide anyone who needs more convincing with the July 3, 2013 Carter Center Interim Report and two general purpose books that offer further perspective on today’s Venezuela:

    1.) The Dictator’s Handbook: Why bad behaviour is almost always good politics by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and Alastair Smith;

    2.) The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle For Democracy by William J. Dobson

    What has happened in Venezuela over the past 14 years has been a usurping of all democratic institutions and practices through majority rule (both real and illegally procured). It is a remarkable thing to have turned democracy on its head by using the institutions of democracy (legislatures, judiciary, media). It is also remarkable that so many people have so willingly embraced a veneered, rather than a substantive, democracy and an arbitrary rule “by” law rather than the rule “of” law in Venezuela. The reality has become apparent (unfortunately not readily enough) for many of those who obtained benefits at the expense of their fellow citizens. For those adherents not living in Venezuela, or being affected by the arbitrariness of the paramilitary regime, I wonder whether they will remain some of the regime’s most ardent defenders.

    The electoral system as controlled by the current Government is neither free nor fair. Rather, it is intended to maintain an authoritarian status quo. It constitutes nothing more than a false sheen of democratic practice and an insulting masquerade for a decidedly authoritarian regime.

    It needs to be remembered (if it wasn’t known) that no official international election observation was allowed in April 2013 other than a UNASUR ‘accompaniment’ and 170 government selected individuals to witness the process. According to UNASUR an “electoral international accompaniment mission” is to “witness the electoral process in a framework of respect, solidarity, cooperation, for the general know-how and experience in electoral matters, in favour of the electoral bodies of UNASUR member states.” [Emphasis added.] There were therefore zero international election observers in Venezuela. There was instead “accompaniment”. In April 2013, The Carter Center was invited at the eleventh hour to “accompany” the Government body and did so. Having abided by the constraints of the “accompaniment” agreement established by the Government, the Carter Center announced that it would produce a more fulsome report in the coming weeks. 
 
Its July 3, 2013 report needs to be framed. https://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/venezuela-070313.html

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  2. Excellent. You might want to add a couple of things:

    Only Cuba has a slightly slower Internet access than Venezuela in the Western Hemisphere. Venezuela compares very badly even with most African countries when it comes to Internet speed, reducing the chances people can use Internet for streaming data and we know very few read anything but tabloid.

    Related to that: as Emiliana wrote earlier, the zillion “independent” radio stations and TV channels do not criticise the government. Your average José Rodríguez in your average city Carora or El Tigre (I am not talking about all Paraparas of Venezuela, which make up less than 9% of the population but about the cities with more than 100,000 people and less than 900,000 where more than half the population lives) does not read El Universal or El Nacional, does not have Internet at home and although he might use a Blackberry to tweet around, his surfing possibilities are rather limited. In fact, we might consider access to differing media easier to achieve for the average Russian now than for the average Venezuelan. And that is not good.

    Regarding the CNE registry: I disagree there is consensus among the opposition on that. Fact is Primero Justicia and other parties have decided to say that is under control
    because either they haven’t got a clue or they are scared to put off voters.
    If you talk to people who have worked on data mining, on demography and identity
    issues and the like you will see they are not as sure. In fact: quite a few of them are people who are well-known professors at universities such as the USB…pero no les paran bolas. In fact, quite a lot have denounced a series of issues. The registry is deeply flawed. These are saying this not because they want to discourage people from voting, on the contrary. But we need to make cheating more difficult and this would require extra efforts.

    There were over 10% more voters over 40 years old than people according to the 2011 census. That cannot be just an incredible estimation error from the INE.

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    • I live in a kind of a small town in Texas, my internet speed is about 50 mbps. I have even been able to download a 300+mb game in less than a minute.

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  3. My head is not in a place that I can digest these concepts, at the moment, In the event that others share my predicament, allow me to sum up this very long article thus:

    Amass enormous sums of wealth and power, while
    Keeping ‘em ignorant
    Keeping ‘em thinking they have a democacy
    Keeping ‘em busy looking for food

    On the latter, ‏@carlaangola tweets:
    Fidel Castro dijo una vez a Guaicaipuro Lameda: “Tu no has entendido, a la gente hay que mantenerla ocupada buscando comida.”

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  4. The idiotic myth of fair elections in Venezuela continues sanctioned by the babbling synchophant Jimmy Carter, currently in close in competition with Obama for the worst US president ever award. If you can find the lady who died in 1839 but still managed to vote for Hugo Chavez, perhaps she can vouch for the honesty of the elections. Better yet, find a government employee who was fired because he did not vote for the regime. Since the Chavistas declare flatly that they will NEVER CEDE POWER (why bother with elections, then?) even if they lose, what is happening now is the only way to get rid of them. Unfortunately, the regime has the guns and the murderers on its side. Has anyone spotted the Cuban Wasps brigade? Heard Cuban accents from pro-government forces?
    Here is why elections are important to the Chavistas: Because the communists were never able to overthrow Latin American governments by military force (Cuba is the only place) without inviting anti-communist aid from the US (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, etc) they finally figured out that the best way to take over was at the ballot box. This is why they babble constantly about being a democracy that holds fair elections. It is all a lie to keep the Ronald Reagans at bay. They are basically using democracy to destroy democracy.

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    • Of course we won’t cede power, nor should we. The opposition is too evil to ever be trusted with power.

      You people are, very soon, going to be beaten down as you deserve.

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  5. The biggest irony here is that if Venezuela would’ve had the same type of “democracy” in 92 as it has today, Chávez would have probably died in prison, denied of his cancer treatment.

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  6. Excellent analysis. Don’t forget the indoctrination in the schools and the “Bolivarian universities” with express degrees, which sooner of later will ruin the credit of all Venezuelan professionals. And the frozen funds to opposition municipalities. And the gerrymandering of the voting centers, causing disproportion when assigning seats in the national assembly favoring the chavistas.

    Democracy is not something we practice every few years on election day and then forget about until the next elections. I would argue that in order to define an election as democratic it would have to be conducted in an ambient where there is respect for the constitution, democratic principles and human rights. As proven in the article, this has not been the case in Venezuela during the past 15 years.

    “But there were flaws in democracy before Chavismo” is the excuse of some Chavistas (most would just deny all accusations, stating there is no proof). “And there are flaws in democracy in the evil empire as well”. Yes, but not at this magnitude. And you can’t justify wrongdoing by claiming that others do wrong as well. At least not if you are over four year’s old.

    Some people sold their democratic principles in exchange for a crappy Chinese fridge. What good is that today, with no electricity and no food?

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  7. Clearly the Chavistas are Communists…..and want to make Venezuela a Communist nation. The Cubans and their “friends” have been trying to do this for many years. It is now time to stop them.

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  8. Please watch the attached video of Senator Marco Rubio giving a speech on the floor of the United States Senate this week. He outlines how Cuba has exported its oppressive form of government to Venezuela. Then goes over some of the atrocities that the opposition has suffered since 12 Feb. An excellent speech.

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  9. Thank you, Richard, Anabella y Bárbara.

    And for those of you haven’t read it yet…Quico’s piece in the NYT today is excellent. As was his participation in To The Point on NPR.

    Africa’s (temporary?) loss is our gain….welcome back.

    We are grateful to you and to Juan and to your team for the excellent coverage. CC remains an oasis.

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  10. The ancient greeks had a different take on democracy in that they did not think that the practice of democracy by itself assured the citizens of a City that they would have a good or even tolerable govt.

    They went so far as to think that democracy was a means to an end , that the ultimate goal was not democracy but good or just governance and that democracy same as any other political system could be corrupted and degraded giving rise to a Tyrannical govt . Tocqueville understood this very clearly !!

    For the ancient greeks the big problem for any Polis was to ensure that the Ruler wold never stand so mighty above his subjects that he might abuse his power and deprive them of their freedoms . They knew how narcicistic hubris and megalomania afflicted those with too much power with a mental disorder that made them into tyrants . We all remember Lord Actons celebrated phrase about how ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely ‘

    To stave off this tyrannical vocation of rulers efforts were made to limit the power of rulers many different ways , In Republican rome power (potestas) was divided between two consuls and the senate ( auctoritas) ,

    Montesquieu famously came up with the idea (develop by the english through some harrowing experiences) that public power must be divided into three separate bodies to ensure that no one could hold so much power that it might come to dominate the whole apparatus of State Power . We moderns dont usually see beyond the hallowed virtues of democracy and beleive that it is an end in itself automatically granting the citizens of a country all the protecion from bad or tyranical govt that they might desire , Experience and hIstory teach is that this certainly is not the case .

    In short that democracy is not enough , that there are values and principles beyond democracy that are a necessary part of good government .That govts must be accountable for what they do before another independent body of power , that there must be Rule of Law , that govt must be competent in the management of public resources and use it intelligently to augment the public weal . That whatever the merits of Mayority rule if it doesnt meet these conditions then we might as well have a non mayority rule that works better , that sattisfies these essential standards of good governance.

    Sorry to wade so deep into these obscure notions but sometimes just taking for granted that everything that mayority rule entails is for the best smacks of a beateous kind of superstition .!!

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  11. This is unrelated to the article at hand, but I couldn’t find a place to share this with the community.

    Can we all inform the nice people of Aljazeera what’s really going on?

    http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/the-us-should-respectvenezuelasdemocracy.html

    I can’t believe that such an irresponsible bit of “journalism” was published on that platform. I left a fairly lengthy response in the comment tackling only a few of the mistakes, cherry-picked facts and half-lies that this article puts forth, but I invite the rest of you all to do the same. People in the world need to see what’s really going on. As long as articles such as this are allowed to appear unchallenged, we continue to project this image to the world that things in Venezuela are really not bad at all, and we all know that’s not the case.

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  12. States in the former Soviet bloc had regular elections. Cuba has regular elections. It seems pretty clear that voting does not necessarily equal representative government.

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  13. Looking at the Polity IV chart above and the democratic labeling one could conclude that we’re in as bad a situation now as we were during the 1940’s and early 1950’s. I recall many older Venezuelans mentioning that, although the government opposition was heavily persecuted, the modernization of the country took off; crime was virtually non-existent, corruption was minimal and the economy was growing. If you worked hard and stayed away from political life, you had a good chance to build a future and prosper in life. Not that I would like to go back to those years, but how many Venezuelans would settle for the conditions in the early 1950s instead of the Socialism of the 21st century? Funny how everything is relative in life. Off course, we took a choice to do better then, and we have the same choice now.

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  14. I am hesitant to comment here, because I not a fan of the current government.

    That said, I took a good look at the composition of the Polity score for Venezuela. Simply put, it’s bullshit. I was rather surprised, because it is a generally good index.

    Details: http://noelmaurer.typepad.com/aab/2014/02/is-venezuela-a-democracy.html.

    Short version: to believe that Venezuela is less democratic than Angola, you need to believe that elections are systematically rigged (not just biased) and that there was zero chance of winning an election.

    Neither proposition is convincing, given the history of the past year. In fact, many of the posts on this blog reject both points.

    Let me repeat that it is not a brief for Chavismo to say that Venezuela is not a dictatorship; the current regime is certainly not anywhere near as authoritarian as under Pérez Jiménez.

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    • I find it extremely hard to compare countries on such fuzzy things as democracy over time and space.

      Pérez Jiménez didn’t last 10 years in power in a time when you didn’t have Google Earth and mobiles phones.

      To some extent the situation in Venezuela is similar to the one in Russia now, in some cases worse and Putin is vastly more popular in Russia than Maduro is in Venezuela, but Europeans and North Americans find it easier to identify Russia as an autocracy…perhaps because most Russians have blue eyes and we brown ones.

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      • Oh please! don’t come now with the poor us racist comments (and BTW I have brown eyes). Geo-politically speaking Russia has a larger influence in the world than Venezuela will ever have. There is no comparison.

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        • The geopolitical influence doesn’t have anything to do with the point I am putting forward: in spite of the difficulties of comparing countries on fuzzy notions, anyone with some knowledge about both countries would see the level of autocracy is rather similar.
          When it comes to critical press and actual penetration of critical media, when it comes to laws against NGOs, when it comes to how the legislation on that and on parties has evolved, when it comes to language use, there are striking similarities. Of course, there are some obvious differences, as the legislation for rallies in Venezuela is still more flexible than in Russia.

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          • Russia’s influence in the world is huge; Venezuela’s is not. For instance, most of European countries rely on Russia’s exports of oil and its derivatives. When something goes on in Russia or its neighborhood all Europe, USA, China, Brazil, India, etc. pay attention because it is in their national interest to do so. Even if the civil unrests in Venezuela where to stop oil exports the only ones affected are the smaller countries that get preferential oil. The USA could easily accommodate shortages from other sources. Yes, I agree there are political similarities between Russia and Venezuela, but that is where the similarities end. They are pretty much two peas in a pot, but one pea is x-times larger than the other, and for you to say that the world is not paying attention because of the pea color (besides being a stupid racist comment) means you are missing the point.

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            • You are the one who is missing the point and don’t have anything to tell me about racism. And you keep talking about Russia’s importance as if someone needed to know that.
              You haven’t got a clue about Russia.

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              • Have you been in Russia? Do you have russians friends? Have you lived been in Europe? I bet your answer is yes to all of them. Привет, мой друг

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              • Whom do you want to impress? You haven’t got a clue
                about where I live now or where I have lived and even if
                you or I lived here or there: that doesn’t mean a shit
                but what people do with their brains with the experience they have.
                And in your case, it seems you don’t seem to use yours
                as you kept referring to Russia’s role in the world and stuff that is OT.
                Не задирай нос кверху, а то упадешь.
                Ты мне действуешь на нервы.
                Мне пора.

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    • If you define the government as a dictatorship do you think that the people damaging variious muncipalities and blocking roads would still be alive? You have no f***ing idea of what a dictatorship is you moron!

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      • Not every dictatorship is a totalitarian state where all overt dissent is wiped out or thrown in jail a la Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union. They come in different forms, just like democracies, but the basic form is there: An autocratic form of rule by leadership unrestricted in any meaningful way by law or constitution.

        =

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  15. MUD should not completely boycott Maduro’s peace meeting, it should send an “observer”…use the same status terminology as the international’s got at the last election.

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  16. No separation or autonomy of powers? Hmm…..Chavez used to express his opinion about matters that were the competence of the justice system. Example – Afiuni should receive 30 years. But that did not happen and she is now living quietly at home. Unless you can show that the executive is actively intervening in the other state powers then you have not made a case at all.

    Look at the US – the Supreme Court judges are nominated by the President. In Venezuela it is done by a committee from the AN. This is far more democratic and shows that the executive did not interfere as you want us to believe..

    The problema with democracy in Venezuela is that it is infected by impunity. For example – the people currently attacking public and private property in just 18 out of 335 municipalities in the country – hardly countrywide as you manipulative article would have us believe – are continually violating the constitution by denying free transit to all citizens. These are the non democrats.

    In fact the government would gain more support if it made more arrests and expressed the opinión that people proven guilty in a court of law should receive the máximum jail seantences for their acts of terrorism.

    And that is what is happening here – it is is terrorism supported by the middle clases.

    And I make no exception for excesses by the securoty forces. The SEBIN and GNB involved in any deaths shoudl also go to jail for a long time.

    Fianlly if you want Venezuela to go the way of Syria then just continue to support the terrorists. Your family and friends could die as well as mine.

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    • Arturo, you said it: “Chavez used to express his opinion about matters that were the competence of the justice system.” He should not have, at least not publicly given his postion, and certainly not using public resources.

      You bring up USA? Are you suggesting we use USA as the metric?

      You bring up right to free transit, but you sidestep right to protest without being assaulted by the very forces sworn –and paid– to defend the protest?

      You’re right about increased positive support with increased repression of protests, but you sidestep the increased negative support, too.

      Terrorism? You mean low flying jets over street blocking protesters?

      Would you also send to jail those who ordered the SEBIN and GNB to be involved without the proper training, or without reacting efficiently enough against their bad behavior?

      Nobody wants to go the way of Syria, but some insist on forcing Venezuela the way of Cuba, which is what is causing the Syria possibility…

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    • Look at the US – the Supreme Court judges are nominated by the President. In Venezuela it is done by a committee from the AN. This is far more democratic and shows that the executive did not interfere as you want us to believe..

      You leave out an important part in your example: Yes, the president “appoints” a SCOTUS justice, but, you left out the fact that said appointee must pass the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is never a guaranteed thing. This is particularly true when one party controls the presidency and the other the Senate. So to assume that the president appoints someone wilynily to the SCOTUS is not accurate; he appoints someone who is generally more moderate than himself to appeal to both sides of the JC.

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      • The U.S. President appoints all Federal judges, from the District and Circuit Courts to the Supreme Court, with :”the advice and consent of the Senate”. This means that each appointment must be confirmed by a majority of the Senate. (Under informal but long-standing Senate rules, a supermajority of 60 votes was required; this rule was voided by the Democrats a few months ago.)

        The Senate Judiciary Committee may interview each nominee, and then approve or reject the nomination, but that recommendation is not binding on the Senate.

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    • “Example – Afiuni should receive 30 years. But that did not happen and she is now living quietly at home”
      She’s NOT living quietly in her home, the regime’s putrid injustice system is actively trying to toss her again in a cell, because in the first place she was imprisoned due to an ORDER of the corpse himself.
      Way to go trying to defend your bullshit revolution, dude.

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  17. Your work in the kotchen was as convenient and comfortable for you.
    Youu need a way to safely hold a knife, and that’s the handle.
    ree going tto love the time and tears that it saves you as well as
    having the ability to have consistent sized pieces of onion.

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