January 15, 2004
Today's neo-libertarians, if they truly believe what they claim to believe about freedom, really need to take a second look at Venezuela and it's president Hugo Chávez.
The democratically-elected government of Venezuela has survived attempted coups - military, economic, and mediatic - and keeps moving forward with the most sweeping reforms and advances in democracy and human rights in the hemisphere today.
The latest: a reform of the penal code that, while increasing penalties for drug traffickers like every other country, has just decriminalized possession. According to the oligarch's daily El Universal, which leads its report in a panic over the reform's simultaneous legalization of abortion and euthanasia, here's what the new law does for drug users:
<BLOCKQUOTE>"As personal dose for consumption, the (allowable) quantity of the drug substance is extended to that which is necessary for average individual consumption for no more than five days; and as a provisional dose, the quantity of the substance that is employed for average individual consumption (according to forensics experts) for no more than ten days."
In sum, the drug addict or user no longer faces prison or penalty in Venezuela if he possesses small amounts of his drug of choice (specifically mentioned by the law are marijuana, hashish, cocaine and its derivatives, opium and its derivatives, and synthetic drugs).</BLOCKQUOTE>
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JANUARY 2004 VENEZUELA