The XX Factor

Adios, Democracy

It’s terrible to watch a country go from democracy to dictatorship, but that’s what happening in Venezuela. Piece by piece Hugo Chávez is dismantling civil society-the universities, the press, the courts-firing or jailing those who oppose him. One of the latest victim is Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, who, as the Washington Post reports , was arrested in December, along with the courtroom staff, a few minutes after she released a prisoner against the government’s-that is Chávez’s-wishes. No evidence has been presented against her, but Chávez has already pronounced the sentence, saying the judge, who is 46, should serve 30 years ” in the name of the dignity of the country .” In other words, Chávez is Venezuela, and as with all dictators, his moods, slights, ego, and psychopathology not only trump the law, they are the law. Ominously, Chávez, who is great friends with fellow lunatic and suppressor of free elections, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has reportedly offered Venezuela as a redoubt for Iran’s murderous Revolutionary Guards. (Chávez denies this-what a surprise.) This Washington Post editoral notes that Chávez just bought $5 billion in weapons from Russia, and says Chávez’s recent actions have been greeted by the administration with “nonchalance.”