The Point
Last updated: 02 August 2019. sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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Chavez wins again - Massive democratic endorsement of socialism by Venezuelan people

Ana Dreyfuss-Quillon

Socialists and progressives the world over will have been heartened at the news of President Hugo Chavez’s third consecutive Presidential election victory in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Faced with a united opposition challenge from Henri Capriles, who even tried to woo some Chavista support by pledging to keep many of his reforms and social programmes, Chavez nevertheless won by a margin of nearly 10%, with 55% of the vote.

This represents a continuing endorsement by the majority of the Venezuelan people not just of Chavez himself, but of his Bolivarian Revolution, which, since 1998, and despite one attempted coup, an often vicious internal opposition and barely disguised antipathy from much of the ‘free’ world, has used Venezuela’s oil wealth to tackle poverty, build homes for the poor, and create free healthcare and education. (Lessons to be learned, Barack? Probably not, unfortunately)

Chavez was both conciliatory and triumphant in his victory speech on the balcony of the Presidential palace in Caracas, pledging to continue the socialist transformation of Venezuela, but also promising to be ‘a better President’ and learn from past mistakes. He asked those in opposition still cynical towards the Bolivarian revolution to come and enter into dialogue about how to make Venezuela better.

Serious crime, including mugging and murder remains a huge problem that Chavez inherited, and into which the huge social programs seem to have made insufficient inroads. Undoubtedly, the Chavez government needs to come up with practical remedies that can be seen to make an impact before the next Venezuelan general election.

Nevertheless, the huge impact of a radical socialist regime, democratically elected, in power from 1998 and now effectively with considerable power until at least 2018, cannot be underestimated across Latin America and the world. Imagine if Chavez had narrowly lost the election. It would have been headline news all over the world, trumpeted as a rejection of socialism. Many media outlets barely deigned to cover Chavez’ victory and some didn’t even mention it at all (shame on you, Jon Snow and Channel Four News)

The Bolivarian revolution still has a distance to go, but there are no gulags in Venezuela, no bloodstained walls against which oppositionists are shot. Ex-President Jimmy Carter of the US has described the Venezuelan electoral process as one of the most democratic in the world. A socialist confederation and trading bloc of leftist states involving Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba would be the next logical step.

Long live the Bolivarian Revolution!;utm_medium=feed

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