Re "Venezuelan voters reject bid by Chavez to extend powers," Dec. 3
Although your headline proclaims the triumph of democracy in Venezuela's rejection of President Hugo Chavez's referendum, I remain skeptical. The election is simply Round 1, and this staged show is probably part of his plan. The 51% to 49% margin is indeed a photo finish, and Chavez has vowed to keep the issue alive. Chavez has magnanimously accepted defeat and states that he will respect the will of the people. He will undoubtedly expect the same consideration from his opponents and the rest of the world when his referendum passes by a narrow margin next time. Chavez is simply following the example set by the proposition process in California and other states -- if at first you don't succeed, try and try again. Democracy, with its inalienable rights, is a fragile entity: Its champions must prevail in every battle; its opponents need win but once. I hope that Venezuelans are able to maintain the constant vigil.
Re "Chavez isn't finished," editorial, Dec. 4
In its castigation of Chavez, The Times states that "Chavez's socialist ideals are leading Venezuela to a precipice, and it's the poor who will suffer most if it goes over the edge." Since when does the United States care about the poor in Central and South America? We certainly didn't care about them during our direct involvements in coups in Chile, Guatemala and Panama, and the subsequent unleashing of brutal dictators in those countries. The only issue in each of our interventions was economics and the desire for acquiring resources on the cheap.
Our problem with Chavez is simple: Venezuela has oil that we want at a price and with conditions we dictate, and Chavez isn't going along with our wishes.