Posts tagged venezuela
Posts tagged venezuela
Hugo Pérez Hernáiz
Venezuelans will go to the polls this Sunday to elect 337 mayors and 2389 representatives to municipal councils. The last municipal elections were held in November 2008, an election that also included state-level offices. In 2008, pro-government candidates won 265 of 326 municipalities, and they received roughly a million votes more than the opposition. However, that was with Chávez as president and this time the opposition hopes to gain ground. In the presidential elections held in April, Nicolas Maduro (50.61%) was elected by a small margin (223,599 votes) over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles (49.12%).
Based on the numbers from the presidential elections, political scientist Francisco Pérez Gómez argues that if the government increases its votes by 5%, it will win roughly 254 or 76% of the municipalities. If the opposition were to increase its votes by 5%, it could win 116 or 35% of the municipalities. In the unlikely event of a 10% increase in pro-government vote, it would win 266 or 79% of the municipalities, and, in the equally unlikely event of the opposition gaining 10% more votes, it would win 131 or 39% of the municipalities.
Since government support is stronger in less densely populated rural areas where most municipalities are located, and the opposition is stronger in the urban areas, no matter what the result is in the national tally, the government will most certainly claim victory in the total number of municipalities. Given this, the opposition has argued that the most indicative numbers to look at will be those of the major cities and the national totals. The opposition is hoping for a slight increase in its share of votes from April in order to claim it has a national majority over pro-government supporters.
A survey from polling firm Datanalisis from August showed that 31% of voters intend to vote for the Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) compared with 34% for the pro-government Gran Polo Patriótico (GPP) with 35% undecided or not responding. A Datanálisis poll from the beginning of October showed the MUD and GPP tied at 37% with 25% still undecided or not responding. In October pro-government numbers continued to slide. However, in November Maduro initiated his "war against speculation" which likely turned this slide around.
Interview on WBEZ’s Worldview
In recent weeks Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has ordered that prices on appliances, such as refrigerators and televisions, be cut in half. It is part of his attempt to battle the country’s rising inflation rates, which have been at 54 percent. The National Assembly is also considering granting Maduro further power to regulate the economy. David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, explains how Maduro’s economic policies are impacting people in Venezuela.
(Photo: A.P./ Miraflores Press Office)
On October 2, the Venezuelan National Assembly (AN) created a special commission to investigate foreign financing of groups that “aim to generate social commotion and coup plans against the national government.” Three congressmen, including William Fariñas (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela [PSUV] – Nueva Esparta), the head of the Standing Commission for Security and Defense; Juan Carlos Alemán (PSUV – Distrito Capital) and Yul Jabour (Partido Comunista de Venezuela [PCV] – Cojedes) were designated members.
Fariñas stated that the special commission would first investigate funding provided by the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for funding political organizations within the country, suggesting that these groups historically have supported and trained opposition parties such as Primero Justicia and Un Nuevo Tiempo.
On October 22, Alemán announced he had initiated an investigation into foreign financing for two institutions: the Metropolitan University and Súmate, an NGO that focuses on electoral institutions.
Hugo Pérez Hernáiz
On September 30, at a military commemoration for a battle for the war of independence, President Maduro used a presidential decree to create the Strategic Center for Security and Protection of the Fatherland (CESPPA), which will be headed by Major General Gustavo González López, the former Secretary of the Intelligence and Security Unit of the Electric System. Maduro explained that the new intelligence agency will “coordinate, organize, and elevate our capacity to recognize and overcome, before it happens, any plan against the country.”
At this stage, very little is known about the functions and reach of the CESPPA. What is known however is that it will centralize intelligence information, respond directly to the Presidency, and replace the Centro de Estudio Situacional de la Nación (CESNA) created by Chávez.
Local organization and analysts have reacted critically to the creation of CESPPA. In the weekly online edition of SIC, a magazine published by the Jesuit Centro Gumilla, Laura Weffer wrote that several aspects of the promulgation decree were particularly troublesome. Article 3 of the decree states that CESPPA will answer to the requirements of the “Political-Military Direction of the Bolivarian Revolution,” a political organ that does not figure in the Venezuelan Constitution. Furthermore, Weffer points to the fact that the same article speaks of “internal and external” enemies, without defining who they might be, and that Article 9 states that the President of CESPPA has the right to censure any information provided by the agency.
Hugo Pérez Hernaíz and David Smilde
In January of this year, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) selected April 7 as the date when they would choose candidates through internal primaries for the municipal elections. After the death of President Chávez in March, the PSUV decided to hold primaries in May, but again postponed the event as they waited for the National Electoral Council (CNE) to set a new date for the municipal elections.
In June, after discussion within the PSUV and between the PSUV and other pro-government parties, the PSUV discarded primaries in favor of a “unitary method” of candidate selection. As a justification, Diosdado Cabello argued that in the aftermath of Chávez’s death, the PSUV had to avoid splintering: “There are a lot of conspiracies and we now lack the direction of the Comandante Chávez.”
President Maduro explained that “primaries would have left chavismo torn in pieces,” because of the “individualist passions” of some potential candidates that could have been supported “by suspicious powers.” He argued that even though primaries are the selection process stated in the internal rules of the PSUV, and Chávez left clear instructions that they were to be the preferred method, they could not be held within the PSUV until the “carnival democracy of bourgeois culture” is overcome by a “socialist ethics.”
David Smilde and Timothy Gill
On Tuesday, World Politics Review published our Strategic Posture Review of Venezuela. In it we examine Venezuela’s foreign policy and some of the Venezuelan government’s most important bilateral relationships; the Venezuelan military; and, finally, some of the Maduro Administration’s strategic priorities.
We argue that “the Venezuelan government has promoted a Third World-ist ideology that encourages the development of a multipolar world and an ‘anti-imperial’ axis of countries … [that includes] relations with Latin American countries—especially leftist regional allies, including Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua—as well as with several authoritarian countries.” We detail the government’s relations with 10 countries, including the United States, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, China, Russia, Iran, and Belarus.
In the report, we discuss the politicization of the military during the Chávez administration and its the current capabilities. In addition, we discuss the frequent conflation of the National Militia and colectivos as well as the issue of military participation in drug-trafficking and their relations with the FARC.
Finally, we conclude by discussing several challenges facing the Maduro administration, including political instability, citizen security, inflation and shortages, corruption, and deteriorating infrastructure. We argue that the December 2013 elections “will be not only a referendum on Chavismo without Chávez, but on an opposition without Chávez.”
Latin Pulse: Assessing Venezuela and Maduro
Latin Pulse Podcast looks at the Maduro government. Representing a critical view, our own Hugo Pérez Hernaíz talks about conspiracy theories and militarized policing strategies.
George Ciccariello-Maher of Drexel University provides a more sympathetic view, discussing some of the internal tensions in the Maduro coalition.
This is the third in a series of podcasts on Venezuela in the past month. You can download them or stream them here.
Executive Producer: Rick Rockwell and
Associate Producer: Megan Ekhaml.
(The photo is from teleSUR, the non-profit, intra-governmental television network based in Venezuela, and is in the public domain: www.telesurtv.net/ )
“Latin Pulse” is produced at American University’s School of Communication. This program is sponsored by the university’s Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS), in association with Link TV.
Throughout the 20th Century the US and Venezuela maintained warm relations. Venezuelan oil flowed to the US and the US consistently supported Venezuelan leaders—dictators and democrats alike.
That all changed, of course, during the fourteen years of the Chavez government. The US was ill disposed to a leftist, anti-imperialist government that sought to increase oil prices. And Chavez increasingly used the US as his main symbolic foil for consolidating his Bolivarian revolution. Indeed, in his last years, President Chávez hardly made a public appearance and statement without castigating the US Empire and its alleged efforts to unseat him.
How well does this anti-US rhetoric resonate with the Venezuelan population? The answer is not at all clear. Many observers note that Venezuelan culture borrows heavily from the US with its love of baseball, fast food, Hollywood films, and beauty pageants. In addition, many Venezuelans have relatives that live in the US, or have lived there themselves.
In a new book on US-Venezuelan relations, Javier Corrales and Carlos Romero argued that the Chávez and now Maduro government’s anti-US rhetoric does the government more harm than good with its domestic constituency. They suggest that while anti-US rhetoric serves to unify radicals, it repels most others.
Latin Pulse Looks at US Venezuela Relations
List to my discussion with Rick Rockwell regarding diplomatic discussions between the United States and Venezuela to normalize relations between the countries.The part on Venezuela starts at about 17:05
Executive Producer: Rick Rockwell
Associate Producer: Curt Devine.
The photo of street protestors in Brazil is by Fernando Henrique C. de Oliveira of Belo Horizonte via Flickr using a Creative Commons license: www.flickr.com/photos/leftyjoe/9092527969/
Human rights group PROVEA (Venezuela Program for Education and Action in Human Rights) has released the third edition of its new International Bulletin on Human Rights.
The Bulletin is released in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English and covers the most important human rights issues of the month. This edition looks at labor unrest, the Venezuelan government’s denunciation of the American Convention on Human Rights, and several laws that may have an adverse effect on social protest, including the Law against Organized Crime and the Financing of Terrorism, which was passed in May 2012.