Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been granted new special powers after an extraordinary assembly vote in the main square of the capital, Caracas.
Mr Chavez will now be able to rule by decree for the next 18 months.
Why this was necessary is beyond me. The opposition boycotted the last elections, so Chavez already has total support from the parliament. It’s just another blow to an already-ill democracy.
Of course, when your country is as oil-rich as Venezuela, you have to screw things up pretty bad before day-to-day life gets worse for most people. We can see that in Iran as well, and even Alberta.
Chavez garnered over 60% support in the last presidential election. You can be popular and still be a tyrant. Tyrants can even be effective and benevolent, at least at first. But power corrupts, and that’s why democracies have checks and balances. As the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It looks like Venezuela may learn that the hard way… again.