LA Times, AP, WaPo Call Defeated Chavez Power Grab 'Reforms'

The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post are all referring to a package of recently-defeated Venezuelan constitutional amendments as "reforms." In reality, those so-called reforms were all bent on amassing more power and influence in the hands of Hugo Chavez. Washington Post's Juan Forero gave readers early of the December 3 Home Edition article (published before the outcome of the December 2 referendum was finalized) an idea of what was at stake for everyday Venezuelans waking up this morning.:

Chavez would be granted extraordinary powers, including the right to stand for re-election indefinitely, appoint governors to provinces he would create and control bloated foreign reserves.

Unfortunately I could not find an online edition of that page A12 article, which appeared in my District & Maryland Home Edition. It was replaced by a story filed in the early morning of December 3. WashingtonPost.com notes that the later Forero story ran on page A1, presumably in the final printed edition of the December 3 paper. Forero's page A1 article avoided the term "reforms" in the lede, but quickly shifted to the word as a shorthand for Chavez's 69 proposals to grasp unto himself more power to make the Venezuelan economy more socialistic. Forero also softened his language on the amendment that would have given Chavez control of Venezuela's banking system (emphasis mine):

Hours after the final ballots were cast, the National Electoral Council announced at 1:15 a.m. local time Monday that voters, by a margin of 51 to 49 percent, had rejected 69 reforms to the 1999 constitution. The modifications would have permitted the president to stand for reelection indefinitely, appoint governors to provinces he would create and control Venezuela's sizable foreign reserves.[...]Chávez had campaigned furiously in recent days after polls showed that Venezuelans would reject the reforms. But he faced an eclectic and widespread opposition that included university students, Roman Catholic leaders and human rights groups.

If George W. Bush even hinted at proposing constitutional amendments giving him Ben Bernanke's Federal Reserve job, letting him run again for the presidency, and creating out of thin air new states or cities governed by people he alone chose at his personal whim, the media would, and rightly so, denounce such proposals asabsolutely insane and hinting strongly of the foul stench of despotism.Yet when it comes to Hugo Chavez, a tin-horned South American dictator cozy with Fidel Castro and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his proposals are treated by American media as merely "reforms" to Venezuela's constitutional system.  

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters