user preferences

Why Chávez Was Re-elected

category venezuela / colombia | the left | non-anarchist press author Wednesday October 10, 2012 03:53author by Mark Weisbrot - New York Times Report this post to the editors

WASHINGTON — For most people who have heard or read about Hugo Chávez in the international media, his reelection on Sunday as president of Venezuela by a convincing margin might be puzzling.

Almost all of the news we hear about him is bad: He picks fights with the United States and sides with “enemies” such as Iran; he is a “dictator” or “strongman” who has squandered the nation’s oil wealth; the Venezuelan economy is plagued by shortages and is usually on the brink of collapse.

Then there is the other side of the story: Since the Chávez government got control over the national oil industry, poverty has been cut by half [ http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.NAHC/countri...graph ], and extreme poverty by 70 percent. College enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.

So it should not be surprising that most Venezuelans would reelect a president who has improved their living standards. That’s what has happened with all of the leftist governments that now govern most of South America. This is despite the fact that they, like Chávez, have most of their countries’ media against them, and their opposition has most of the wealth and income of their respective countries.

The list includes Rafael Correa, who was reelected president of Ecuador by a wide margin in 2009; the enormously popular Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who was reelected in 2006 and then successfully campaigned for his former chief of staff, now President Dilma Rousseff, in 2010; Evo Morales, Bolvia’s first indigenous president, who was reelected in 2009; José Mujica, who succeeded his predecessor from the same political alliance in Uruguay — the Frente Amplio — in 2009; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who succeeded her husband, the late Néstor Kirchner, winning the 2011 Argentine presidential election by a solid margin.

These leftist presidents and their political parties won reelection because, like Chávez, they brought significant — and in some cases huge — improvements in living standards. They all originally campaigned against “neoliberalism,” a word used to describe the policies of the prior 20 years, when Latin America experienced its worst economic growth in more than a century.

Not surprisingly, the leftist leaders have seen Venezuela as part of a team that has brought more democracy, national sovereignty and economic and social progress to the region. Yes, democracy: even the much-maligned Venezuela is recognized by many scholars to be more democratic than it was in the pre-Chávez era.

Democracy was at issue when South America stood together against Washington on such issues as the 2009 military coup in Honduras. The differences were so pronounced that they led to the formation of a new hemisphere-wide organization — the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which excluded the United States and Canada — as an alternative to the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States.

Here is what Lula said last month about the Venezuelan election: “A victory for Chávez is not just a victory for the people of Venezuela but also a victory for all the people of Latin America … this victory will strike another blow against imperialism.”

The administration of George W. Bush pursued a strategy of trying to isolate Venezuela from its neighbors, and ended up isolating itself. President Obama has continued this policy, and at the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Colombia he was as isolated as his predecessor.

Although some media have talked of Venezuela’s impending economic collapse for more than a decade, it hasn’t happened and is not likely to happen.

After recovering from a recession that began in 2009, the Venezuelan economy has been growing for two-and-a-half years now and inflation has fallen sharply while growth has accelerated. The country has a sizeable trade surplus. Its public debt is relatively low, and so is its debt-service burden. It has plenty of room to borrow foreign currency (it has borrowed $36 billion from China [ http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/venezuela-20...9.pdf ], mostly at very low interest rates), and can borrow domestically as well at low or negative real interest rates.

So even if oil prices were to crash temporarily (as they did in 2008-2009), there would be no need for austerity or recession. And hardly anyone is predicting a long-term collapse of oil prices.

Venezuela’s economy does have long-term problems, such as relatively high inflation and inadequate infrastructure. But the substantial improvement in people’s income (the average income has risen much faster than inflation under Chávez), plus gains in health care and education, seems to have outweighed the government’s failings in other areas, including law enforcement, in the minds of most voters.

The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba has persisted for more than half a century, despite its obvious stupidity and failure. American hostility toward Venezuela is only about 12 years old, but shows no sign of being reconsidered, despite the evidence that it is also alienating the rest of the hemisphere.

Venezuela has about 500 billion barrels of oil and is burning them currently at a rate of one billion barrels a year. Chávez or a successor from his party will likely be governing the country for many years to come. The only question is when — if ever — Washington will accept the results of democratic change in the region.

Related Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/opinion/why-chavez-wa...veLQ&
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch
Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

Front page

Elementos da Conjuntura Eleitoral 2014

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes

[Chile] EL FTEM promueve una serie de “jornadas de debate sindical”

Ukraine: Interview with a Donetsk anarchist

The present confrontation between the Zionist settler colonialist project in Palestine and the indigenous working people

Prisões e mais criminalização marcam o final da Copa do Mundo no Brasil

An Anarchist Response to a Trotskyist Attack: Review of “An Introduction to Marxism and Anarchism” by Alan Woods (2011)

هەڵوێستی سەربەخۆی جەماوەر لە نێوان داعش و &

Contra a Copa e a Repressão: Somente a Luta e Organização!

Nota Pública de soldariedade e denúncia

Üzüntümüz Öfkemizin Tohumudur

Uruguay, ante la represión y el abuso policial

To vote or not to vote: Should it be a question?

Mayday: Building A New Workers Movement

Anarchist and international solidarity against Russian State repression

Argentina: Atentado y Amenazas contra militantes sociales de la FOB en Rosario, Santa Fe

Réponses anarchistes à la crise écologique

50 оттенков коричневого

A verdadeira face da violência!

The Battle for Burgos

Face à l’antisémitisme, pour l’autodéfense

Reflexiones en torno a los libertarios en Chile y la participación electoral

Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist / syndicalist reflections

Melissa Sepúlveda "Uno de los desafíos más importantes es mostrarnos como una alternativa real"

Venezuela / Colombia | The Left | en

Mon 15 Sep, 10:05

browse text browse image

Sorry, no stories matched your search, maybe try again with different settings.

imageVenezuela at the crossroads Mar 03 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 2 comments

Article originally written in Spanish for the latest issue of the Chilean anarchist paper Solidaridad- The recent events that have shaken Venezuela reflect not only the level of interference that the USA maintains in the region or the pervasive coup-mongering trend in the Venezuelan elite which knows by heart the manual of the Chilean coup strategy. It primarily reflects the latent tensions in the Venezuelan model which should start to work themselves out from below, through struggle. Today more than ever we need critiques to be the essential tool of revolutionaries, rather than the attitude of passive approval of everything the Bolivarian leadership does. [Castellano] [Català] [Italiano]

imageThe Venezuelan right on the offensive Apr 22 by Bruno Lima Rocha 0 comments

The risk of a coup d'état in Venezuela continues to be a real one, with more right-wing media analysis even betting that Nicolás Maduro will not finish his term. Apart from political Chavism, the guarantees of acquired rights are in the balance. [Português]

imageLibertarian reflections on the death of Hugo Chávez Mar 06 by Manu García 0 comments

We will no longer see one of the most important men in Latin America in the last decade. It is impossible not to be somewhat shaken by this fact. We do not doubt that they will be celebrating with the most expensive champagne in Chacao. Naturally that is not our feeling, nor is it that of the Venezuelan masses. We can only feel solidarity with them in their sense of grief over the passing of one who in recent years was their undisputed leader and benchmark for the popular movement across the continent. [Castellano]

Sorry, no press releases matched your search, maybe try again with different settings.
© 2005-2014 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]