Many people expected that after his painful electoral defeat in the constitutional referendum last year, Hugo Chávez was going to stop his systematic assault against democracy and civil liberties in Venezuela.
Last week, he decreed a new intelligence law (no need for a National Assembly here) that basically turns Venezuela into a police state. The new law requires that people:
“… 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.”
The law also stipulates that the police agencies can conduct surveillance activities on the population, like wiretapping, without a warrant. Furthermore, the authorities can deny access to evidence to defendant lawyers under the grounds of “national security.”
It’s interesting how people sympathetic to Chávez around the world, but particularly in Latin America, call anyone who criticizes their beloved leader a “fascist.” They fail to recognize that many of his policies, especially laws like this one, have fascism written all over them.