Belmont Club

Towards a Worker's Paradise

Venezuela’s lame duck Congress passed midnight legislation giving Hugo Chavez powers to rule by decree, according to the Washington Post.

“This castrates the next National Assembly,” Teodoro Petkoff, a former guerrilla turned newspaper editor, said of the measures in a Saturday column. “Chavez has begun to take the path of dictatorship.”

“They will not be able to create even one law, the little Yankees,” said Chavez, who brands his opponents as stooges of an imperialist U.S. government. “Let’s see how they are going to make laws now.”

Despite its oil revenues, Venezuela has been in the grip of a deep economic crisis, while much of Latin America is doing well. Chavez’s supporters claim he needs the decree powers to fix things, citing recent mudslides and catastrophes that have beset the nation. “This is the fourth time Chavez has received extended powers since becoming president in 1999.”

Venezuela’s economic woes did not stop it from buying 1,900 MANPAD missiles, which the US fears will find their way into the hands of Colombian or Mexican drug cartels, according to another article by the Washington Post.

Matt Schroeder, a missile expert at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said the missiles are among the most sophisticated in the world and can down aircraft from 19,000 feet. Chavez is also looking to buy 100,000 assault rifles and attack helicopters from Moscow.

“It’s the largest recorded transfer in the U.N. arms registry database in five years, at least. There’s no state in Latin America of greater concern regarding leakage that has purchased so many missiles,” he said, referring to reports of Venezuelan arms flowing to Colombian guerrillas.

The Globe and Mail reports Chavez is being advised on how to fix the economy by a Welsh Marxist educated in Bulgaria and the Moscow State University. His name is Alan Woods, a f”ormer member of Labour Party offshoot Militant Tendency, … one of the leading members of the International Marxist Tendency movement and editor of the ‘In Defence of Marxism’ website, Marxist.com.” The Globe and Mail describes Wood’s formula for economic recovery.

Alan Woods, the Welsh Trotskyist adviser to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – better known in Caracas, The Economist has said, than in Cardiff – has advised his friend that Venezuela’s socialist revolution is in trouble and can be saved only by the prompt and complete nationalization of the country’s “bankers, landlords and capitalists.” Mr. Chavez himself appears, tentatively, to agree.

The Daily Telegraph described Mr. Wood’s pivotal role as being only second to Fidel Castro’s. “Woods is clearly Chavez’s current guru, and his main ideological mentor after Fidel Castro,” observed Gustavo Coronel, a former state oil executive in Venezuela. ‘Fidel is not always available, but Woods is.'”

One of Chavez’s pet projects is a state-owned fastfood restaurant which serves food at a quarter of the normal price. CNN, quoting a Wikileaks source, described how US embassy personal watched it in operation. The customers paid only after they had eaten and told the restaurant operators how much they had consumed. “The cable quotes Eduardo Saman, who was then minister of commerce, as saying that customers could rely on low prices because all the ingredients came from government-owned companies.”

Making food, healthcare and housing “affordable” has long been the goal of socialist politicians. While some economists doubt government can successfully run an economy, Hugo Chavez and Alan Woods are certainly going to give it a try.

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