Monday, February 16, 2009

The Power of a State Controlled Media

President Hugo Chavez won a referendum to eliminate term limits Sunday and vowed to remain in power for at least another decade to complete his socialist revolution. Opponents accepted defeat but said Chavez is becoming a dictator.

Fireworks exploded in the sky and caravans of supporters celebrated in the streets, waving red flags and honking horns. Thousands of people gathered outside Miraflores Palace, where the former paratroop commander appeared on a balcony to sing the national anthem and address the crowd.

President for life, potentially. Fireworks ... because the guy in power got the voters to do what he wants.

At their campaign headquarters, Chavez opponents hugged one another, and some cried. Several opposition leaders said they wouldn't contest the vote.

"We're democrats. We accept the results," said opposition leader Omar Barboza.

But they said the results were skewed by Chavez's broad use of state resources to get out the vote, through a battery of state-run news media, pressure on 2 million public employees and frequent presidential speeches which all television stations are required to air.

Opponents say Chavez already has far too much power, with the courts, the legislature and the election council all under his influence. Removing the 12-year presidential term limit, they say, makes him unstoppable.

They cried? They cried, because now THE ONLY MAN WHO CAN RUN [sarcasm] Venezuela now has finagled his people to vote him in as dictator for life.

More. Comparisons between Obama and Chavez. The goals are similar, and I'm afraid the tactics aren't exactly that different either.