Back in 2007, the voters of Venezuela said “thanks, but no thanks” to a ballot proposition that would have removed term limits for Hugo Chavez, thus effectively allowing him at least a decent shot at becoming President-for life.

Now, Chavez has invited the people he ostensibly loves so dearly to see the error of their ways and reconsider:

Venezuelans are due to vote on a proposal that would allow President Hugo Chavez and other elected officials to seek as many terms as they wish.

A “yes” vote in Sunday’s referendum would allow Mr Chavez to stay in office after his current term ends in 2012.

Mr Chavez has said the constitutional amendment is needed for the future of Venezuela’s socialist revolution.

But critics say it is designed to concentrate power in the president’s hands for decades to come.

A proposal to end presidential term limits was one of a package of 69 constitutional changes narrowly rejected in a 2007 referendum.

[. . .]

Mr Chavez celebrated 10 years in power earlier this month. His current term is due to end in 2012.

“Ten years is nothing,” Mr Chavez said at a news conference on Saturday. “I don’t know what they’re complaining about.”

“On Monday I’ll wake up looking beyond 2013, and that will give me more confidence in what we’re doing.”

Confidence in . . . what precisely?

. . . The price of Venezuela’s heavy oil has dropped below $35 per barrel, which is 40 percent below what the government says it planned for in next year’s budget and less than half of what independent analysts say Mr. Chávez needs to sustain his heavy spending on projects such as the nationalization of domestic industries, purchases of Russian weapons and subsidies to clients including Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega. Already, Venezuelans are experiencing inflation of more than 30 percent, shortages of basic goods and the world’s second-highest murder rate.

Just imagine how bleak prospects could be for Venezuela if Chavez gets unlimited term limits. I am normally in favor of allowing voters the ability to re-elect public officials as often as they want but in this case, we are dealing with a dictatorial, authoritarian government with no appreciation whatsoever for the will of its people or the fact that it is leading them to ruin.

Here is hoping for a free and fair election in Venezuela, one that will allow the voters there to–again–reject the Chavez regime’s naked grab for absolute power of an indeterminate length. And here is hoping that the international will watch the elections closely and carefully–and will call the Chavez regime on any electoral shenanigans it seeks to pull.

Because his beliefs notwithstanding, ten years is quite long enough for Hugo Chavez to have been allowed to wreak havoc on Venezuela.