Hugo Chavez, Reformer

I was startled by this headline on the BBC site: “Voting ends on Venezuela reforms.” At first I thought it was careless usage by a headline writer. But no: the BBC’s second sentence reads:

The raft of reforms would see the end of presidential term limits and the Central Bank’s autonomy removed.

Nor is that all; the BBC calls Hugo Chavez’s grab for unconstrained power a “reform” no fewer than four times, and describes Chavez’s opponents as “anti-reform.”
I wondered whether I had an eccentric understanding of the word “reform,” so I looked it up on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

1a: to put or change into an improved form or condition b: to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses
2: to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action
3: to induce or cause to abandon evil ways

There you have it: the BBC is on record as favoring Chavez’s power grab. Here is how the BBC describes some of the Communist’s “reforms”:

Mr Chavez says the package of reforms is necessary to “construct a new socialist economy”. ***
One proposal is to allow the president to stand for re-election an indefinite number of times.
Other changes up for approval include giving the president control over the central bank, the creation of new provinces governed by centrally-appointed officials, and a reduction in the voting age from 18 to 16.
There are also proposals to expand presidential powers during natural disasters or political “emergencies”.

Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that George Bush offered a proposal to allow himself an unlimited number of terms; to take Presidential control over the Federal Reserve; to create new states (Central California, Upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania) governed by appointees of President Bush; and to allow himself to expand his Presidential powers by declaring an “emergency.” Do you suppose the BBC would call those proposals “reforms”? No, I don’t think so either.
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that at the BBC, anything that leads to a “new socialist economy” represents an “improved form or condition.”
UPDATE: Early reports suggest that the Venezuelans may have voted away their own freedom today. It wouldn’t be the first time, of course, but given the tragic and sordid history of socialism over the last century, it is depressing to think that there are people in the world who haven’t figured out what a terrible idea it is.
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