Chavez takes another step towards true tyranny
When I visited Venezuela almost a year ago, one thing puzzled me:
Hugo Chavez is an ever more lawless ruler, an aspiring tyrant. Yet he conspicuously lacked the most essential tools of coercion. The police were weak and corrupt. The army was too independent. (And also weak and corrupt.) Chavez had not built a party militia or secret police force. Chavez ruled through the legacy institutions of the Venezuelan legal state: institutions Chavez had perverted and abused, but institutions still in some sense separate from him. Given the astonishing economic incompetence of the Chavez regime, the omission to build a repressive apparatus that owed loyalty to Chavez personally seemed a risky omission. If he lost an election, as he was soon bound to do, he risked losing his grip on power.