By Andrew P. Napolitano
The president's men trash the Constitution to pursue antagonists
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Socialism has finally hit the fan in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, though he checked out just in time to miss it. He left millions of Venezuelans struggling to clean up the mess.
First, milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities — toilet paper.
A member of Venezuela's assembly appeared on state television with a bruised, swollen and bloody head Tuesday evening, after a brawl erupted among lawmakers in a heated session over post-election powers.
Venezuela offers a classic study of how socialist regimes impose misery and mayhem but manage to fool or intimidate enough voters to keep the regime in power.
Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, has won Venezuela's presidential election by a stunningly narrow margin that highlights rising discontent over problems ranging from crime to power blackouts. His rival demanded a recount, portending more headaches for a country shaken by the death of its dominating leader.
Voters who kept Hugo Chavez in office for 14 years were deciding Sunday whether to elect the devoted lieutenant he chose to carry on the revolution that endeared him to the poor but that many Venezuelans believe is ruining the nation.
Nicolas Maduro hopes to ride a tide of grief into Venezuela's special presidential election Sunday and win voters' endorsement to succeed the late Hugo Chavez, the divisive larger-than-life leader who chose him to carry on the messy, unfinished Chavista revolution.
Since 1999, the Venezuelan people have suffered under an oppressive, neosocialist dictatorship that disregarded human rights, the rule of law and freedom of the press. For 14 years, Hugo Chavez trampled over democratic order, jailed political prisoners and oppressed the Venezuelan people.
Venezuela's acting president said Wednesday that it is highly unlikely Hugo Chavez will be embalmed for permanent viewing because the decision to do so was made too late and the socialist leader's body was not properly prepared on time.
Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader in Venezuela, will face off against Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor, interim President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela on Saturday was awaiting a key ruling from the nation's elections commission about details of a vote to replace Hugo Chavez, including a possible date for the poll.
Venezuela's electoral council has set a presidential election for April 14 to choose the successor to President Hugo Chavez.
Hugo Chavez's death could very well result in an uncertain and unstable succession battle that will define Venezuela's future for better or worse. With that country one of the world's largest exporters of crude oil and the fourth-largest supplier of crude oil and petroleum products to the United States, the Obama administration needs to get active in helping to shape events in a positive direction.
More than a decade's worth of Hugo Chavez gutting his country's democratic institutions and centralizing power in his person has led to the present turmoil in Venezuela, where just who is the country's constitutional leader is no longer clear.
President Hugo Chavez won't be able to attend his scheduled swearing-in Thursday, Venezuela's government announced Tuesday, confirming suspicions that the leader's illness will keep him in a Cuban hospital past the key date.
In a victory speech, Maduro told a crowd outside the presidential palace that his victory was further proof that Chavez "continues to be invincible."
Maduro said during his victory speech that Capriles had called him before the results were announced to suggest a "pact" and that Maduro refused.