President Hugo Chavez continues his long slide from elected leader to outright dictator of Venezuela, as CNN is reporting that his government is systematically shutting down dozens of independently-controlled radio stations, with hundreds of other potentially being targeted, too. At the same time, a "Special Bill Against Media Crimes" is making its way through the Venezuelan legislature, as if there can be such a thing as a "media crime" under natural law.
At the same time, a new election law has just passed in Venezuela which will allow the government to redraw legislative district lines. The measure is clearly intended to benefit the Chavez ruling party ahead of next year's National Assembly elections. People who think that Venezuela remains a representative democracy are deluding themselves.
President Chavez was once the darling of the world's radical leftists. After he won election in 1998, he implemented popular educational and health programs that seemed to raise the quality of life for many of his country's disadvantaged population. Today, these same programs are mired in corruption and inefficiency, with lucrative contracts going only to Chavez loyalists. And all of Chavez's anti-capitalistic rhetoric cannot hide the utter failure of his particular brand of socialism to bring prosperity to his people, as inflation goes through the roof and shortages of basic goods begins to be felt.
Whether or not Chavez started out as an idealist and gradually morphed into a dictator or whether he was interested only in his own power from the beginning is irrelevant, for the man clearly is a dictator now. Thomas Jefferson would have understood him perfectly well, and would have cast him into the same class as King George III as a tyrant who deserved to be overthrown. His governance of Venezuela is a violation of natural law; the sooner it ends, the better.