What Would a Post-Chavez Transition Look Like?
According to main stream media in the United States, Chavez is aggressive and intentionally provokes the United States and sides anyone that has bad relations with US such as Iran and Nicaragua; he is a dictator who pillages the nation’s oil wealth; the government officials are all corrupt and the Venezuelan economy is in chaos plagued by poverty and on the brink of collapse.
The other side of the coin… since the start of Chavez government the national oil industry prospered, poverty has been reduced upwards of 70%. Higher education enrollment has more than doubled, health care is available to millions more people, and for public pension access 4 times higher.
Not terrible surprising Venezuelans re-elected a president who has improved their living standards, although main stream media would have you believe that the election process is a sham.
Most Latin American “leftist” leaders have been re-elected, despite the fact that they, like Chavez, have had most of their countries’ and main stream media against them.
• Rafael Correa, re-elected President of Ecuado
• The enormously popular Lula da Silva of Brazil, re-elected in 2006
• Evo Morales, Bolvia’s first indigenous president in a majority indigenous country, re-elected in 2009
• José Mujica succeeded his predecessor from the same political alliance in Uruguay – the Frente Amplio — in 2009
• Cristina Fernández succeeded her husband, the late Néstor Kirchner, winning the 2011 Argentine presidential election by a solid margin
All of these re-elected “leftist” leaders had popular western main stream media against them, all had easily re-elected in the respective Latina America countries.
These “leftist” presidents and their political parties won re-election because, like Chavez, they brought significant, improvements in standards of living. They all originally campaigned against “neoliberalism,” which describes policies of the previous 2 decades, a time Latin America saw negative economic growth, wars and death squads.
Now Chavez appears to be on his death bed, a second round of cancer, induced coma, respirator to keep him alive, complete kidney failure, his condition is described as “delicate”, “fragile” and “weak”, and it is doubtful he will make it to his swearing in ceremony on January 10th, 2013.
Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), named successor by Chavez in December, is considered to be ideologically aligned with the revolutionaries in the Chavista movment.
Some fear the Maduro will pull a hard line on oil export and switch everything to China but for all the saber rattling neither Chavez nor Maduro really want the full attention of the USA.
It now seems very unlikely that Chavez will have recovered to be sworn in on January 10 for his next six-year term or even recover at all.. According to the Venezuelan constitution, if he were to die before that date, Maduro would finish the present term and then the President of Congress, Diosdado Cabello, would assume the presidency and call elections within thirty days.
Venezuela continues to move toward a constitutional or at least political mess. Changes in Venezuela’s anti-American policies and behavior will not likely occur until after Venezuela has moved into a post-Chavez era.
What would a post Chavez transition look like?
During this period Venezuela’s oil industry may very well experience a decline in production only partially offset by high prices; inflation and food shortages will be the order of the day. Caracas will remain one of the most violent cities in the world, with a murder rate unmatched in Latin and North America, and finally billions of dollars will continue to be spent on Soviet-era weaponry to equip an army
Eventually the old oligarchy class that was ousted from power by Chavez in late 90’s was so discredited by decades of corruption, mismanagement, and lack of disciplined focus could very well regroup and force a credible alternative.
After Chavez, Venezuela will be deeply divided and in the worst case scenario, it will collapse into civil war, with the most likely immediate result being a kind of military dictatorship. As to what foreign policy changes and choices Venezuela will have to make are beyond any accurate prediction but needless to say Venezuelans have good reason to fear the post-Chavez transition and possible well into the future.
Category: Latin America >> Venezuela >> Hugo Chavez
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