There has been, quite amazingly, a great deal of argument concerning whether Hugo Chavez is a tyrant. I would have thought that the issue was settled a while ago, but since there still appears to be doubt, let’s turn to the Financial Times, which gives us details of the latest outrage from Venezuela:
Venezuela’s opposition leaders have accused the government of President Hugo Chávez of launching a campaign of persecution aimed at stripping them of power since they won key posts in regional elections last year.
Many of the leftwing leader’s most high-profile opponents are either being investigated for corruption or subjected to new laws that restrict the exercise of their powers.
Antonio Ledezma, an anti-Chávez leader who was elected as mayor of Caracas last year, called his subordination to a new official to be handpicked by the president a “coup” against the constitution. Legislators loyal to the government passed a law last week creating a new official with administrative and budgetary control over Venezuela’s capital.
Analysts say Mr Chávez is using his control over state institutions to centralise power and emasculate his political opponents at a time when plunging oil revenues are pressing the government to cut spending as Venezuela slides into recession.
Manuel Rosales, the opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential elections who is facing corruption allegations, has gone into hiding, saying he would not get a fair trial. Meanwhile, General Raúl Baduel, an ally-turned critic of Mr Chávez, was arrested at gunpoint last week and imprisoned over corruption charges.
True democrats do not act this way and do not run a country the way Hugo Chavez does. After having seen the way in which freedoms have been curtailed in Venezuela over these many years, it would seem ridiculous to even contend that there might be doubt as to whether Hugo Chavez is a dictator. I am sure that there will be people who continue to try to sow the seeds of doubt on this issue. But increasingly, they look quite out of touch, don’t they?