Recently two major constitutional matters has been decided in south America, consolidating the socialist influence of Venezuela and Bolivia. Even though constitutional, neither of the country do probably change in its political status
In Bolivia, changes principally focused on increasing the influence of the indigenous population and making political appointments elected by the people. This can in one way be seen as a democratic gain, and is perhaps difficult to argue against. A problem can still occur on the issue of responsibility. Should all offices be responsible to the people itself, there can be increased tensions between different authorities and visavi the central government, if goals and focus points diverse.Should then offices be responsible to and elected by the people, there is a significant risk of populism and hesitation to make uncomfortable decisions which might be necessary. Direct democracy is not good in all aspects, even though believed so in an idealistic view.
Regarding Evo Morales agenda on the indigenous population, I have always wondered. Why making this a matter of political ideology? There are most likely much differences in political ideology and ideas on how to run the country also within the indigenous population.
Venezuela has accepted the demands of President Chavez to abolish limits on number of terms on political offices. This is from a democratic point of view a setback for Venezuela, as Hugo Chavez now will be able to control the political situation many years to come(in reality all his lifetime, if he decides to). The goal of Chavez is to consolidate the Bolivarian revolution, making Venezuela a strongly socialist country, this goal will in effect threaten the democratic system. This because dramatic reforms such as nationalisation of large parts of the industry and society, can not be made in one term only to risk a reverse should the leader of the opposition win and be elected president in the next elections. Because of this Chavez will also make sure that he is re-elected as many times as he decides to, even though manipulation would be necessary. A consolidated socialist system will further have no room for strong oppositional critics and a strong federal system where the regions under an oppositional leadership could act contrary to the Bolivarian cause. The upcoming acts of President Chavez will then probably be a more centralised Venezuela and stronger repression of the opposition.
These are however predicted future changes, at this point the constitutional changes does not change Venezuela in a significant way. Should however the other socialist countries such as Bolivia and Ecuador follow this example, this would be a setback for the liberty and democracy of South America.