Electoral polls closed earlier tonight and results are still in the balance. Chavez could become a defacto dictator tonight by grabbing the power to continue ruling Venezuela for the foreseeable future if voters say yes to today's referendum (then again the same referendum, if approved, would also recognize sexual orientation anti-discrimination language in the Venezuela's legal system for the first time ever).
In any case, Human Rights Watch - not necessarily the most neocon of organizations - has it just right today.
On Chavez' power grab:
The proposed changes would eliminate the constitutional prohibition on suspending due process guarantees during states of emergency. They would also eliminate specific time limits on states of emergency, giving the president de facto power to suspend due process and other basic rights indefinitely.On proposed recognition of language that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians:
In a positive step, one of the amendments proposed would expand the existing constitutional prohibition against discrimination to cover several other bases for discrimination, including sexual orientation and political orientation. Yet even this protection would also be subject to indefinite suspension, should the president declare a state of emergency.We'll keep you posted.
UPDATE (11:37 PM): The New York Daily News says that Chavez might have 'eked out a narrow win' with government sources saying that the referendum passed by a difference of 4%.
UPDATE (Mon., Dec. 3, 12:05 AM): For up to the minute updates check this blog. Earlier they called a defeat for the referendum based on other sources so I guess things are still up in the air.
UPDATE (Mon., Dec. 3, 7:05 AM): The Daily News was wrong. Chavez' referendum was defeated but by the slightest of margins. The New York Times has more here.
- Gays would have been protected under Venezuelan constitution (365gay.com, Dec. 3, 2007)
- IGLHRC says Venezuela should outlaw discrimination... (Oct 15, 2007)
- Legislative committee says discrimination based on sexual orientation should be outlawed (Oct. 11, 2007)
- President Chavez too macho to be gay (Sept, 16, 2007)
- Embassy in Spain defends Chavez from gay rumors (Sept. 12, 2007)
- Is President Hugo Chavez - gulp! gay? (Sept. 8, 2007)
- Gay politics in Venezuela (Nov. 29, 2005)
- 7,000 stop receiving HIV treatments (Aug. 15, 2005)
- $1M for HIV awareness (but what about the gays?) (Aug. 12, 2005)