Hugo Chavez

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Hugo Chavez, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, is the President of the Bolivaran Republic of Venezuela. Chavez won a fully democratic and open election in August, 2004 with 58% of the vote. Jimmy Carter served with international observers certifying the final tally.

Since then the Venezuelan government has exhibited signs of authoritarianism. Economic elites like opposition leader Gerardo Blyde are still free to speak but the political space for opposition is shrinking as there are fewer mews media outlets to propagate elite opinion. The formal authority of the Venezuelan presidency is also increasing. On January 19, 2007, the Venezuelan National Assembly passed legislation allowing the Venezuelan President for 18 months to impose political, economic and social reforms.

Populist

Chavez is widely viewed throughout Latin America as a champion of the poor and economically disadvantaged middle class. Opposition to his solidly democratic socialist views in a long-standing climate of economic hard times led to a push for the 2004 recall election, preceded by previous attempts at a coup d'etat and marked by harsh opposition from the oligarchic Right in Venezuela and elsewhere. Chavez has implemented civic reforms which have directly and tangibly benefited Venezuela's poor and middle class, which has widened his support among these sectors and helped stave off opportunistic threats against his office and government. Chavez's detractors accuse him of being "demagogic" and "thuggish," and that he seeks to "consolidate power" and "enrich cronies" while "using" the poor.

Chavez's policy platform is Bolivarísmo, a renewed effort to determine and define autonomous public and political policy in Latin America, named after and hearkening to Simón Bolívar, leader of the Latin American independence movement throughout South America in the 1820s and counterpart of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Venezuela and Brazil, together with Bolivia, represent a recent trend toward the left in Latin American politics and society, a trend which had been impeded for decades by US intervention, notably through efforts of the CIA. The name of revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, hated in Washington and Miami but loved across much of Latin America, is regularly deployed to cast aspersions upon Chavez and other socialist / social democratic leaders of the region who retain diplomatic and cultural relations with Cuba, notably because of Cuba's high literacy rate and breadth of medical and social care achievements.

The primary Bolivarismo platform is land reform, an issue that threatens US transnational economic interests. The US has not been helpful to Chavez, but has been less forceful in having him removed than it has been with previous left wing politicians in Latin America. The preferred methods of intervention have historically been the destabilization of leftist and progressive states through agitation propaganda and inflammatory rhetoric. Land reform has historically been repelled through military and covert interventions, as are the cases in Guatemala and Perú in the mid-twentieth century.

The second son of two school teachers, Chavez was born on July 28, 1954 in the town of Sabaneta, Barinas, Venezuela.


dKos diaries and discussions

  • Hugo Chavez? Fri Jan 21st, 2005 at 03:01:51 PM EST by Ben P (MyDD) A spirited discussion on the MyDD blog based on the 2005 Senate confirmation hearing of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State, where Rice could not find anything good to say about Chavez.
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