The future of the Bolivarian Revolution
The recent furore over the health of Venezuela’s President has become a daily news item, all be it behind other shocking stories in the recent weeks. In light of Chavez’s health, the question is what is the future of the Bolivarian revolution? Without Chavez does this movement in Venezuela have a coherent programme and strategy in the face of the powerful and funded opposition, headed by Henrique Caprilles.
Chavez has always come under enormous scrutiny both domestically and internationally. His radical programme of nationalisation and wealth distribution has shaken the old elites of this Latin American nation, especially the oil barons of the past. It is well documented that during Chavez’s premiership he has been the subject of a lot of hostility from the last American President, a hostility that was more than mutual. So much that at the UN, when Chavez took the podium he described Bush as the devil, claiming you could still smell the sulphur in the air.
Furthermore, the recent declaration by Chavez, that this final period of leave from public life has been due to him receiving treatment for cancer, has sparked more discussion around the future of Chavez’s socialistic programme. This episode is the latest to threaten Chavez’s and his ‘Bolivarian revolution’. This is an issue as serious as the other attempts to undermine Chavez’s government and their radical movement. The most documented being the American backed attempted coup in 2002, following some violence between supporters of Chavez (Chavistas) and supports of the right wing conglomerate of ex-military chiefs and ex CEO’s of state industries lead by businessman Pedro Carmona.
Moreover, Chavez’s left-wing government and larger Bolivarian revolution has recently come under increasing scrutiny regarding its future. The recent victory in a parliamentary vote has enabled Chavez to rule by decree for the next 18 months. This has been met with strong opposition who claim such a move is autocratic . The recent public declarations from a known friend of Chavez, Noam Chomsky, urging him to free the María Lourdes Afiun, a judge whose currently held under house arrest on the grounds of here poor health has been a enormous embarrassment for both Chavez and his administration.
What is new is that these criticisms are less focused on the economic and social policy of the Chavez’s administration and more focused on scrutinising the democratic operations of the incumbent government. This signals a shift in the dialogue between the west and the Venezuela government. This change in discourse from the west, mainly the USA, represents a new period for relations between the Americas. Arguably, this is in reaction to the growing relationship between several Latin American nations resulting in a proto-Latin American block. This is notably illustrated with the recent denouncement of Nato’s involvement in Libya .
Whatever this Government has been faced with, be it the health of President Chavez or the attempted coup of 2002, this administration continues to maintain support from Venezuelan’s. In terms of popularity, Chavez’s popularity has only slightly decreased compared to his pre-illness level, still double the amount compared to the opposition Caprilles.
The future is definitely unsure and the elections next year will be an interesting spectacle for all. The opposition will unveil its candidate in the recent future and it seems that Chavez will stand again for re-election. There is no doubt that the recent health scares have knocked Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution and there is evidence that there are abuses of his power. However, he is only as powerful as the people let him. He is a popular charismatic leader with a radical programme, which he along with a majority of Venezuelan’s want to see carried through. Chavez may be down but the Bolivarian revolution is certainly not out.