17 MARCH 2007, Page 30

Chávez v . Livingstone Sir: Anthony Browne (Politics, 3 March) says

Chávez is a ‘dictator’ four times, and a ‘socialist dictator’ twice. Really? Browne is referring to a man who has just won the latest of a whole string of elections with a massive majority, in an election to which all international monitors gave a clean bill of health.

Browne has Chávez being given ‘powers to rule by absolute decree’ by a ‘cowed parliament’. But this doesn’t strike me as fair either. The opposition parties aren’t even represented in the National Assembly, as they foolishly withdrew (rather than be beaten) the last time that body was elected. And the constitution gives the President the right to issue executive orders, a right his immediate predecessors also exercised. Browne’s article uses equally overheated language when it comes to Ken Livingstone, but what I am really unclear about is this: is Browne using Chávez as a stick to beat Livingstone with, or is it the other way round?

Jonathan Rosenhead London N1