Venezuela Averts Totalitarianism

December 3, 2007

Venezuelans defeat proposal for sweeping constitutional changes that would have made Hugo Chavez El Supremo.

The defeat slows Mr. Chávez’s socialist-inspired transformation of the country. Venezuela, once a staunch ally of the United States, has become a leading opponent of the Bush administration’s policies in the developing world. It has also taken the most profound leftward turn of any large Latin American nation in decades.

The referendum followed several weeks of street protests and frenetic campaigning over the amendments to the Constitution proposed by Mr. Chávez and his supporters. It caps a year of bold moves by the president, who forged a single Socialist party among his followers, forced a television network critical of the government off the public airwaves, and nationalized oil, telephone and electricity companies.

Those against the amendments won 51 to 49 percent. 49 percent voted to hand over complete control to Chavez. I’m not sure this is a result to be celebrated.