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27 July, 2011  ▪  Viktor Kaspruk

Venezuela: Restoring The Rights Of A Civilized Nation

Luis Alberto and Jose Alberto Lopez Rafaschieri — who have occupied important positions in the Venezuelan Public Administration and private companies — are now political pundits blogging at

The two have published over more than 500 Spanish and more than 200 English language articles on subjects related to politics, economy, energy and religion in a range of journals. They have written for journals such as “El Nuevo Herald”, “El Universal”, “El Mensajero de Oriente”, “PetroleoYV” and “” and have now published a new book entitled “La Gran Recesi?n y la Izquierda” (“The Great Recession and the Left”).

- The next presidential election in Venezuela is scheduled for 2012. And it’s a fact that the categorical division in the country in terms of Chavistas and anti-Chavistas is stable at 60% to 40%. Can the election change anything?

- The ratio of Chavistas to anti-Chavistas sentiment is not 60-40. In the last election, pro-government voters represented 48% of the electorate, while opposition parties garnered 52%. The next presidential election is obviously an opportunity for political change. You can be sure that if elections in Venezuela were free of intimidation, the vote for the opposition would increase drastically.

- The Bolivian Revolution put “imperialism” and “socialism” back on the agenda, taking them out of their places as “demonised monstrosities” condemned to be only mentioned by Fidel Castro and company…

- The Bolivarian Revolution took “imperialism” and “socialism” from the Soviet school of propaganda. These concepts represent nothing for the Venezuelan people. The real problems our population face are crime, inflation and housing, but Chavez uses the “anti-imperialism” rhetoric to surpass his lack of solutions to these real problems and justify the installation of an authoritarian political system in our country.

- But the international situation of Chavista Venezuela is not the same as in Cuba in the sixties when the Soviet Union was still strong and growing, correct? 

- The international situation is not the same and the Soviet Union is no longer around, but that does not mean that leftist populism is dead in Latin America. The Castro brothers are the most successful dictators in the region, and you can see leaders like Evo, Ortega and Correa trying to imitate the Chavista political project. These types of politicians are as typical in our region as penguins in the Antarctic. Furthermore, China, Russia and other states are great allies of 21st-Century Socialism.

- Does the Bolivian revolution in Venezuela continue to be a hope for poor Latin American countries?

- We take on this issue in our recent book “La Gran Recesi?n y la Izquierda”. Twelve years ago, it was true that Chavez appeared to be the “salvation” for many people, especially for the poor. However, Chavez today is not a dream, nor a hope, his project is the history of political failures. This president cannot improve Venezuelans' quality of life. Since 1999, our streets have become more dangerous, our inflation rate is one of the worst on the continent and our political freedoms have been reduced. Can a government be a hope when its policies are producing an annual inflation rate of 25% year after year? If anyone thinks the answer to this question is yes, then the Weimar Republic was a hope for the poor countries.

- Chavez seems to be gradually losing the support of the Venezuelan people. Can he keep his authority for long?

- Chavez knows he is losing support; he knows this even better than we do. So he is launching a housing program called “Mision Vivienda”, and expecting this new promise will help him to regain his popularity in the low income sectors. It is hard to say how many times he will be able to retain control, but one thing is sure, he will continue losing votes and positions in parliament and in the states and municipalities. Even if he wins the presidency next year, his party will suffer massive losses in the gubernatorial and mayoral elections that will also be held in 2012.

- Could a united opposition stop the communist experiment in Venezuela?

- The opposition has gained ground in the last years. Political parties from the anti-Chavista sectors have now gained control over the most strategic governorships and a good part of the National Assembly, posts that were monopolized by the regime in the past. Since 2006, the leaders of opposition organizations have understood the importance of forming a united block, and from that date, these democratic options began to balance the distribution of political power in Venezuela. Meanwhile, the ruling party has been losing voters and credibility. So, it is not an illusion to assume that the government (and its communist project) can be defeated in the next presidential election.

-  Will Chavez's diseases affect the balance of political power in Venezuela?

- That question is difficult to answer. Does Chavez really have cancer? Can we trust in the official version? Is this an electoral circus? At least for now, and contrary to other analysts, we have a cautious position on all these mysteries. First, the Venezuelan government announced a discomfort in the president's knee. Then, a cloak of disinformation covered the political scene, with one of the highest spokesman of the ruling party saying “Chavez is not sick”, and then, that statement being replaced by “Chavez has a pelvic abscess, nothing serious”. Some days after, Chavez appeared on television and confessed he was recovering from cancer. This paints a hazy portrait that prevents us from trusting any of the government's stories especially when you see the president giving long speeches, exercising and using his “magic resurrection” as an electoral instrument.

-  How should events in Venezuela after Hugo Chavez unfold?

The institutional part of the Venezuelan State has been seriously weakened during these 12 years of 21st-Century Socialism. That is one of the main priorities to be addressed by a new government, restoring the foundations and rights of a civilized nation: respect for private property and freedom of speech, division of power, political pluralism, market oriented economy... In the end, replacing the Chavista's authoritarian structure by the democratic model embodied in our Constitution.

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