Is democracy at risk in Venezuela?

By Ignacio Ramonet

In recent months there have been in Venezuela four decisive elections: two presidential ones, and two others for governors and municipal authorities. All of them won by the Bolivarian revolution block. None of these results has been disputed by international missions for electoral observation. The latest vote came just two months ago… and it concluded by a net victory -11.5 percent margin- for chavistas. Since Hugo Chavez became president in 1999, all polls have shown that, sociologically, support for the Bolivarian revolution is majority.

In Latin America, Chavez was the first progressive leader -since Salvador Allende- who opted for democratic means to arrive into power. Chavism can not be understood if it is not measured by its deeply democratic character.

Chavez ‘s bid yesterday, today Nicolas Maduro’s, is for “democratic socialism”. Not only an electoral democracy. Also economic, social, cultural… In 15 years Chavism gave to millions of -whom for being poor did not have identity documents- citizenship status and allowed them to vote. Over 42 percent of the state¡s budget was devoted to social spending. Took 5 million people out of poverty. Reduced infant mortality. Eradicated illiteracy. Multiplied by five the number of teachers in public schools (from 65,000 to 350,000). Created 11 new universities. Granted pensions to all workers (even informal ones)… That explains the popular support Chavez always had, as well recent electoral victories by Nicolas Maduro.

Then, why the demonstrations? Let’s not forget that the chavista Venezuela -for having the main oil reserves on the planet- has been (and will be) subject of destabilization attempts and systematically hostile media campaigns.

Despite being united under the leadership of Henrique Capriles, the opposition lost four consecutive elections. In view of this failure, his most right-wing faction, linked to the U.S. and led by former coup leader Leopoldo López, is betting now on a slow coup d’etat. And it’s applying the techniques from Gene Sharp’s manual.

In the first phase: 1) create dissatisfaction by massive hoarding staples; 2) make people believe in the incompetence of the government; 3) encourage expressions of dissatisfaction, and 4) intensify harassment by the media.

Since February 12 February, the extremists entered the second phase, insurrection itself: 1) use the discontent of a social group (a minority of students) to provoke violent protests, and arrests; 2) organize demonstrations of solidarity with the detainees; 3) introduce gunmen among the protesters with the mission of creating victims from both sides (a ballistic expertise determined that the shots that killed in Caracas, on February 12, the student Bassil Alejandro Dacosta and chavista Juan Montoya were made with the same pistol, a Glock 9 mm); 4) increase protests and the level of violence; 5) intensify the media onslaught, supported by social networks, against “repression” from the government; 6) get major humanitarian organizations to condemn the government’s “excessive use of violence”; 7) get ally governments to make warnings to local authorities…

We are at this stage.

Is then democracy at risk in Venezuela? Yes, threatened, once again, by the usual coup d’etat mentality.

* Director of Le Monde Diplomatique in Spanish. Recently published Hugo Chavez. My first life.

Original source: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/02/23/opinion/022a1mun

Translation by #InfoVnzla

7 thoughts on “Is democracy at risk in Venezuela?”

  1. We publish translations of articles from all sides so that people can make up their own minds. A translation is not an endorsement.

  2. No problem, solo que no esperaba recibirlo y se me alboroto la sangre… 🙂

  3. Now, it is indisputable that Chavez and his regime did a fair amount of social work in this country- starting with the “Misiones”, missions with the purpose of bettering the quality of life of those in populist classes; and spanning to the amount of attention he gave to the poor, much needed attention. I myself believe that Hugo Chavez was a brilliant man, who had good intentions in the beginning, but as the path to a the so-called Socialism of the XXIst Century widened, the more he understood that the only way to have the people under you control, is to have them know and obtain, as little information as possible.

    While some statistics may say that Chavez took 5 million people out of poverty, but somehow scarcity is at it’s worst, inflation is at 56% and the Bolivar has been devaluated five times in the past year. Mmmmm, maybe these people are out of poverty but what about their purchasing power? what about that?

    On the other hand, it jumps out at me that Chavez “reduced infant mortality”, but last year more than 24,700 people were killed, thats one person every minute- so maybe infant mortality is up, but life expectancy is way down.

    This one kills me… “created 11 new universities”… The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “create” as: to make or produce; to cause (something new to exist); If we take it non-literally, then yeah, Chavez made 11 universities, because he created their names and hired professors and put desks in a space; however, don’t confuse this with BUILD eleven new universities, because thats exactly what he did not do.

    I could go on, but as someone who has worked a ton in the social areas of this country, sometimes I feel like it’s worthless. If Chavismo has proven something to everyone, is that it had the capacity to brainwash people- not only in the populist clases, because it’s no shock to find boys and girls from private schools who live in nice neighborhoods, repeating the same speech: hate comes from the opposition, the opposition only wants power to repress the poor because they hate the poor, and so on… It’s truly a sad fact to see what this country has ended up with: hate and fear.

  4. Very accurate comments by anonymous, I couldn’t have said it any better

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