Chavez's march towards...

absolute control has picked up steam.

Most people abroad are already aware Venezuela is heading towards less and less democracy and yet they are not aware of how serious the situation is becoming. Let's put some perspective.

We got local elections last year and even though Chavez's party took away most states and municipalities, the opposition managed to win states or municipalities where 45% of the population lives. Some of the largest slums in Venezuela (and Latin America) like Petare, actually voted mostly against the pro-Chavez candidate.

What has happened? Well, apart from the fact Chávez pushed for a referendum to lift up the term limits (this in a very strong presidential system), something for he had the government spend 12 billion dollars in "social programmes" (actually giving away free food and similar things and nothing about sustainable development), he has increased the speed in which he is taking away the few powers the opposition had. Among other things,

  1. The local governments where Chavismo lost made important money transfer to the central government just before stepping over, leaving the incoming mayors or governors with much less money than expected
  2. The pro-Chávez mayor of Maracaibo transferred on the last minute the control of Maracaibo's underground to the central government
  3. The national government issued a decreed to transfer public hospitals from Miranda state to itself
  4. The national government took over the local TV channel Ávila, which was under the control of the Caracas mayor (now opposition)

Now the central government declared it was taking over harbors, airports and motorways of Zulia and Carabobo, where the opposition has been trying to "govern". Those harbors, airports and motorways used to bring most of the money for those states. Both governors have declared they would oppose the take over and Chávez has threatened to take them to prison.

And some people abroad were saying the gains the opposition got in the last elections were a chance to prove how they could govern.