Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Penn, Ms. Sheehan, et. al. Please call your office.

President Hugo Chávez has used his decree powers to carry out a major overhaul of this country’s intelligence agencies, provoking a fierce backlash here from human rights groups and legal scholars who say the measures will force citizens to inform on one another to avoid prison terms.


The new law requires people in the country to comply with requests to assist the agencies, secret police or community activist groups loyal to Mr. Chávez. Refusal can result in prison terms of two to four years for most people and four to six years for government employees.

“We are before a set of measures that are a threat to all of us,” said Blanca Rosa Mármol de León, a justice on Venezuela’s top court, in a rare public judicial dissent. “I have an obligation to say this, as a citizen and a judge. This is a step toward the creation of a society of informers.”

The sweeping intelligence changes reflect an effort by Mr. Chávez to assert greater control over public institutions in the face of political challenges following a stinging defeat in December of a package of constitutional changes that would have expanded his powers.

Looks like his powers are expanding in spite of the voters. Again, yet another predictable step towards totalitarianism from a government that the Hollywood Left finds common cause with. Ignorance of history is no excuse.

(Can we use the term “dictator” now?)

UPDATE:  Chavez has revoked the law, which is great to hear.  Thousands of protesters combined with an upcoming election probably changed his mind.  Not a good idea to get the people in an uproar so close to voting.  Is this a case of Chavez listening to the people?  I hope so.  History still suggests keeping a watchful eye, though.

[tags]Harry Belafonte,Sean Penn,Cindy Sheehan,Hugo Chavez,Venezuela,socialism,Blanca Rosa Mármol de León[/tags]

Filed under: DougGovernmentLiberalVenezuela

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