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‘Chavez has become invincible’

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Writing in Newsweek on October 8, referring to a statement made by President Chavez that ‘Chavez is not me. Chavez is a people – undefeated, invincible’, Boris Munoz sarcastically said that “whether, in fact, Chavez has become invincible, the people will decide next week”.The people have now decided. On October 7 Hugo Chavez won the Presidential election comfortably with 54.42 percent as against 44.97 percent received by his opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski. Thus Chavez was elected for a third term extending from 2013 to 2019. Ironically, this more than 10 percent was a ‘slim’ lead for the Washington media. It would be interesting to see how slim or slimmer the lead will be in the US presidential race in November.

In fact, the international media got it all wrong. They believed in their own lies and believed that the contest is “too close to call”. They predicted a “technical draw”. This was despite 18 opinion surveys that predicted over 10 percent lead. Yet, the Newsweek said a month ago on September 10, “a recent poll by Consultores 21 for the first time showed him (Capriles) ahead of Chavez in the race for president”.

The whole media campaign both inside and outside Venezuela was orchestrated to show a contest between a dictator surrounded by unruly mobs and a Left leading democrat who has support among the population. While the Chavez regime was depicted as corrupt and inefficient, a victory for Capriles was shown a means of ending corruption and inefficiency while maintaining the social programs of Chavez. Electoral violence was also predicted.

Fair election
What actually happened was quite the opposite. Former US President Jimmy Carter has expressed the opinion that of the 92 elections monitored by the Carter Center, “the electoral process in Venezuela was the best”. Even the Opposition candidate Capriles has acknowledged the result. The United States was also compelled to accept the election as democratic. US State department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Mike Hammer in a statement urged President Chavez to “take into account the more than six million people” who voted for the Opposition, indirectly exposing the obligation of the United States to defend its allies, who it nurtured and funded lavishly.

The popular verdict will surely help accelerate the pace of change in its advance to what Chavez has called 21st Century socialism. It also signifies that the continental shift to the Left that is taking place in Latin America will continue contrary to the hopes of Western ideologues. It also means the strengthening of regional integration in the Continent. Chavez has already announced several projects to develop infrastructure (railways and international seaports) to facilitate trade with countries belonging to Mercosur or the Southern Market. Petro-Caribbe that guarantees subsidized oil to 20 countries in the region would continue assisting their overall development.

Victory is not surprising
Chavez’s victory is not surprising considering the advances Venezuela has made under his administration. While the GDP recorded an average growth of 5.6 percent poverty rate fell from 49 percent in 1990 to 26.7 percent in 2011. According to a report of the CEPR, Washington the Gini Index of Venezuela fell from 49.5 percent to 39 during the same period. (According to the Gini Index perfect income equality is considered as zero and perfect income inequality is taken as 100). Venezuela has also eradicated illiteracy and carried out broad health reforms to benefit the poor and marginalized sections of the population.
What the election verdict has shown is that there is an alternative to the dominant neo-liberal model of development which is currently in crisis. Though the Venezuelan experiment is no model to be copied or imitated it shows the possibilities of an alternative path that could be created according to the specific conditions in each country. This goes far beyond the boundaries of Latin America. Margaret Thatcher’s dictum “There is No Alternative (TINA)” is proving to be false.

There is no doubt that the Venezuelan verdict underlines a decisive change in reshaping the global economic and social change in favor of the dispossessed nations and peoples, a change that implies redistribution of wealth.

Quick reforms
 As it happened after the previous electoral victories of Chavez one could expect more and quick reforms in Venezuela. This would not be an easy task given the strength of the international allies of reaction who would not hesitate to use any means to reverse the gains of the Bolivarian revolution. What could be expected is more intense class battles ahead. In these battles the international community should show understanding and support the Venezuelan people for they are also fighting for the future of all poor countries.

Last modified on Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:22
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