(photo credit: Reuters)
American Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky, author of last week told the Guardian that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has too much power and is making an "assault" on the country's democracy.
of executive power, unless it's very temporary and for specific
circumstances, such as fighting World War II, is an assault on
democracy. You can debate whether [Venezuela's] circumstances require
it: Internal circumstances and the external threat of attack, that's a
legitimate debate. But my own judgment in that debate is that it does
not," Chomsky told The Observer, the Guardian's weekend paper.
Bin Laden’s Defender: Noam Chomsky
Peace prize for Chomsky draws ire in Australia
Chomsky, who just last month won Australia's Sydney Peace Prize
“for inspiring the convictions of millions about a common humanity and
for unfailing moral courage,” said that Latin American rulers must
always be weary of authoritarianism, and warned that Venezuela may have
already gone "too far in that direction."
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] professor accused
Venezuelan authorities of "cruelty" over the imprisonment of judge Maria
Lourdes Afiuni, urging Chavez to free her in "a gesture of clemency"
for the sake of human rights.
Alfuni, 47, was jailed after she freed prominent banker Eligio Cedeño in
December 2009 despite his facing corruption charges. Chavez, who had
"taken a close interest in the case, called Alfuni a criminal and
demanded her imprisonment for 30 years.
The judge spent over a year in jail, and was moved to house arrest
pending a trial over corruption charges. Chomsky, who lobbied the
Venezuelan government for her release, wrote that "[Alfani] has been
subject to acts of violence and humiliations to undermine her human
dignity. I am convinced that she must be set free."
Meanwhile, in Caracas on Sunday Chavez's supporters rallied and prayed for the speedy recovery of a man whose revelation of cancer treatment has rocked the country he has dominated for more than a decade.
Dozens chanted "We love Chavez!" at a service in the capital's largest slum, Petare. At a downtown square, red-shirted supporters danced, sang, waved flags and held puppets of Chavez aloft in a lively show of support.
JTA and Reuters contributed to this report.