Saturday, 2 December 2006

Venezuela votes

Tomorrow, 3 December 2006, Venezuelans will go to the polls (see Wikipedia) to either re-elect long-time presidential incumbent Hugo Chavez, which looks likely, or decide on a new face to represent their Latin American nation. Venezuela has become more well-known in recent times due to Chavez's statements (like the one at the UN) and other headline-grabbing actions. Chavez, however, looks to have his strongest opponent in recent times running against him, a man by the name of Manuel Rosales. 2006 may be a year to remember for Latin American elections and politics. Even in the imperialistic and closely followed post-imperialistic days, politics in the Latin American countries were vocal and vivacious.

Chavez has long been the prickliest verbal and symbolic thorn representing Latin America in United States' side, hold Cuba — which is more sharp than dull only because of the US's policy towards the communist-run island. Chavez hates everything about President Bush, which elevates his popularity in a region increasingly left-leaning, and has gone so far as to call him "the devil". Venezuela, with its vast oil wealth, seems to have improved under Chavez, but with his cavalier, polarizing, and un-statesmanly attitude and his increasingly questionable agenda, Chavez may serve just as a poster boy of the anti-US group with the sort of politicking that no developing — or otherwise — country needs. His policies seem more shallow and superficial than ever; his movement for a democratic, people-led Venezuela seems to be canceled out by his chumminess with the likes of Libya, Iran, and Cuba.

Chavez-challenger Rosales, on the other hand, looks like a verge towards the realistic moderate politician contrasting Chavez's populist fantasies. The Rosales I have tried to learn about looks to have the social democratic mindset with the 'let's work together' attitude that has the potential to be beneficial for all. Sadly, even when Chavez wants to stand as far away as possible from the "imperialist" United States, his country and the US have one thing in common at this time: incumbents win. Venezuela needs a leader that will deal with unemployment, putting oil revenues to work for the people, verging the wealth gap while keeping economic freedom, standing up to powers such as the US, but not defeating good principles or trying to bend reality in the process, and certain things all countries need to have an effective government (little corruption, public welfare, stable economic policies, good but not blind foreign policy, etc.).

Bottom line: the United States should prepare for several more years of Hugo; opposition parties to Chavez's should get their democratic acts together; Chavez himself should practice much that he heavily rhetorically (another thing the US and Venezuela have in common) preaches — something President Bush should do as well. Neither the United States nor Venezuela politically control Latin America, though they both, in a third common trait, think/wish they did.

  • See also: BBC News special report.

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  • 1 comment:

    Jean Naimard said...

    Chavez brought Latin America the necessary fresh air and demonstrated the feasability of cutting off from the coward politics of those who think that only by sucking-up to the US one can expect progress.

    He can be credited for starting the trend of electing left-wing leaders and/or governments that will look at the interests of their people first, instead of looking at the interest of the US and their cronies first.

    He could very well be equated to Simon Bolivar by showing south-americans that they can prosper very well outside of the neocolonialist yoke of US capital.