A Pharaoh's Funeral and a Grave to Dance On
His followers will make him a socialist martyr and give him a pharaoh's funeral. His opponents will dance on his grave and try to stomp his ideology into oblivion.
That's the way it is with Hugo Chavez. Even though he is apparently on his deathbed in a Cuban hospital, there is no middle ground for the cancer-stricken Venezuelan president. You either love him or hate him.
When he dies soon, there will be a huge fight over whether Venezuelans should honor or dissolve his legacy. In elections that would have to be held within 30 days of the president's death, Venezuelans would get another chance to proceed with or reverse the course of Chavez's Bolivarian (and distinctly anti-American) Revolution.
And for the sake of democracy, let's hope they seize this opportunity to stop their country's march toward Cuban-style totalitarianism.
Let's face it: Under Chavez, Venezuela was well on its way to becoming a democratically chosen dictatorship. His takeover of most media, his stacking of the courts and government offices with his followers, and his use of Venezuela's oil wealth to buy elections has allowed him to treat the Venezuelan constitution as if it was written in pencil.
And even if you are softened by his bout with cancer, if you begin to feel compassion for a fellow human facing death, if you can even forget the many terrorist atrocities he has defended and promoted, Chavez is there to remind you that he is above the Venezuelan constitution — so you can continue to either love him or hate him without remorse.
In his latest violation of the Venezuelan constitution, Chavez not only missed his own inauguration but then he got his Supreme Court stooges to say it was all constitutional.
While the Venezuelan constitution calls for presidents to be sworn-in on Jan. 10 after their election, it also stipulates that if there is any "intervening reason" that makes the inauguration impossible, the president can be sworn-in by the Supreme Court with no date specified.
This gave the Chavistas the loophole they needed to retain power and postpone an election, although Chavez, who was reelected to another six-year term in October, is not even in the country or making any sort of public statements.
With Chavez obviously too ill to return to Venezuela, with no public sighting of the president since the Dec.
In effect, the court deputized Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's handpicked successor, to run the country while Chavez's condition is clarified and while Chavistas prepare their vote-buying machine for the next election.
While Maduro's term as vice president expired on Jan. 10, the high court gave him the opportunity to run as a media manipulating and vote-buying incumbent, just like Chavez.
Of course, the Venezuelan opposition is rightfully outraged. If the constitution had been respected and Chavez had been forced to relinquish power by the 10th of January, another Chavista caretaker, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello would be in power temporarily and perhaps Maduro would not be able to make so much use of the government's wealth to buy the presidency.
When Chavez dies, Maduro is expected to run against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in October's presidential election.
Charging that the delay in the president's inauguration is unconstitutional, and that the current government is illegitimate, the Venezuelan opposition has called for a "massive demonstration of force on the streets of Venezuela" on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
They say their government has been usurped from Havana, that there has been a hijacking of the constitution and a "state-coup." They say they really don't know who is giving the orders any more since they are coming from Communist Cuba.
Imagine an American president going abroad for medical treatment, keeping a lid on the seriousness of his ailments, staying away for more than a month, missing his own inauguration ceremony and leaving his country in fear that its being led by a man on artificial respirator. Even worse, by the leaders of another country!
Not even Hollywood would dare try to sell such a ridiculous storyline.
It's too unbelievable, isn't it?
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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