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Hugo Chavez – an example of Ethical Progressivism??

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 27, 2007

“I actually know many Venezuelan refugees who take my classes here in … they want to flee their homeland because they see it as becoming another Cuba. I love hearing this, as I know Venezuela would be a bigger and better example than Cuba is.”

By the look of it is not only becoming another Cuba, it is becoming another Soviet Union…it seems that all that is missing is a Venezuelan Gulag.

Right now it’s a matter of Freedom of Expression – Chavez has decided to effectively silence the opposition to his 21st Century Socialism by making sure the TV-Station RCTV cannot broadcast. But we all know that “where they burn books, they soon start to burn people”.

The Guardian describe the Venezuelans as “a people who know that change is possible and who, in their everyday lives, are reclaiming noble concepts long emptied of their meaning in the west: “reform”, “popular democracy”, “equity”, “social justice” and, yes, “freedom”.

The Venezuelan people might be noble and all – I am sure they are – but their elected Leader seems more concerned with what is said about him among those that disagree with him, than with honoring the Venezuelan Democracy.

The Venezuelan Penal Code have gotten some rather horrifying and anti-democratic additions since Hugo Chavez was democratically elected by the Venezuelan People:

“Article 147: “Anyone who offends with his words or in writing or in any other way disrespects the President of the Republic or whomever is fulfilling his duties will be punished with prison of 6 to 30 months if the offense is serious and half of that if it is light.” That sanction, the code implies, applies to those who “disrespect” the president or his functionaries in private; “the term will be increased by a third if the offense is made publicly.” – “

“Article 444 says that comments that “expose another person to contempt or public hatred” can bring a prison sentence of one to three years; Article 297a says that someone who “causes public panic or anxiety” with inaccurate reports can receive five years. Prosecutors are authorized to track down allegedly criminal inaccuracies not only in newspapers and electronic media, but also in e-mail and telephone communications.”

So, Hugo Chavez doesn’t want to be disrespected…, well who does? But most of us choose to strive to earn other people’s respect by respecting their rights and freedoms – not so the democratically elected President of Venezuela – he chooses to silence anyone who dares criticize him, by closing them down and threaten them with heavy prison sentences if they do not comply.

Someone argued in response to the fact that 70% of the Venezuelans are opposed to the President’s decision to silence RCTV, that they do so because that will deprive them of their daily soap operas…that might very well be – but that is irrelevant – the fact is that Hugo Chavez is using his democratically elected position to restrict his people’s rights to receive any information they choose and to share any information they choose in public. In all particulars it means that the Venezuelan People does not have Freedom of Speech, which was once instituted to guarantee that people can safely criticize their government without reprisals.

That can in no way be called ethical, and if it is progressive, then G-d protect us from progressivism!

Links and sources:

The Guardian

Washington Post

World Associations of Newspapers

Democracy at risk

Free Press

Human Rights Watch

Reporters Without Borders



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