"Concentration of executive power, unless it's very temporary and for specific circumstances, such as fighting world war two, 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, a linguistics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, spoke on the eve of publishing an open letter (see below) that accuses Venezuela's authorities of "cruelty" in the case of a jailed judge.
"Anywhere in Latin America there is a potential threat of the pathology of caudillismo [authoritarianism] and it has to be guarded against. Whether it's over too far in that direction in Venezuela I'm not sure, but I think perhaps it is. A trend has developed towards the centralisation of power in the executive which I don't think is a healthy development."
Chomsky expressed concern over Chávez's cancer and wished the president a full and prompt recovery.
Rory Carrol, OBSERVER, Sunday 3 July 2011