Wednesday, November 26, 2008
On this day:

Chavez and Ortega: Tyrants still

From those NYT stories...

On Venezuela's Hugo Chavez:
The defeat in some of the slums of Caracas irked Mr. Chávez to the point that he went on state television Monday night, chafing at the election results. Warning the opposition, he said, “Don’t think you control Petare.”

Among the pro-Chávez candidates who lost were members of the president’s inner circle, including Mario Silva, the host of La Hojilla (translation: The Razorblade), a program on state television used to attack Mr. Chávez’s opponents. Sometimes Mr. Silva played taped recordings of opponents’ intimate cellphone conversations or aired their instant-messaging transcripts.

With Mr. Silva trailing in polls ahead of the election, Mr. Chávez threatened to mobilize tanks in Carabobo State in the event of his ally’s defeat, one of many of his menacing comments that linger, as if to remind voters of the vulnerability of their democracy to threats and intimidation.

During the campaign, Mr. Chávez called opponents “traitors” and “swine,” and his government blacklisted almost 300 candidates, preventing them from running in what has been argued to be a violation of the Constitution.
And on Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega:
Edmundo Jarquín, a former Sandinista, said of Mr. Ortega, “He views us as traitors.” Mr. Jarquín challenged Mr. Ortega for the presidency in 2006 as a member of the Sandinista Renovation Movement, a political party made up mostly of former Sandinistas. Mr. Mejía Godoy was Mr. Jarquín’s vice presidential candidate. ...

To outflank the former Sandinistas, Mr. Ortega’s government managed to keep Mr. Jarquín’s party off the ballot in the municipal elections two weeks ago. ...

Mr. Ortega’s government found itself on the defensive recently when it took on one of the most cherished icons of the revolution, Ernesto Cardenal, the 83-year-old priest and poet who helped create the intellectual backbone of the revolution.

This summer, after Father Cardenal lashed out against Mr. Ortega while in Paraguay, calling him a “thief” who runs “a monarchy made up of a few families,” a Nicaraguan judge revived an old court case against the poet and froze his bank accounts. Politics frequently creeps into Nicaragua’s judiciary, and the action prompted widespread condemnation from intellectuals both at home and abroad.