Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
28 November 2006

Civil Union Bill said to ignite debates accross Africa

This facinating article from Afrol news claims that the acceptance of same-sex marriage in South Africa has opened up spaces for discussions on homosexuality in many other parts of Africa.

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This is what I call the productive power of the Constitution: Constitutional rights can have an effcet far beyond the mere invalidation of existing pieces of legislation. Because the law is also productive – by that I mean it helps to produce the reality we live in – constitutional challenges can have far-reaching social and political effects by changing the way people think about their world.

Of course, it can also produce powerful forces of resistance. After the discussions are over, there is always the likelihood of a backlash and more repression. But that backlash may again, in turn, lead to resistance by gay and lesbian groups now emboldened.

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