Chavez, Bolivar and Venezuela
The biggest and perhaps one of the most pressing issues that Venezuela now confront is how it can possibly sustain democracy and at the same time maintain a healthy relationship within the international community. The ascendancy of renowned political figure, Hugo Chavez cannot be simply considered as yet another existence of (authoritarianism). Neither can it be ultimately dismissed as a mere rebirth of the Marxist school of thought coupled with tons of pragmatic approach and political propaganda.
Like any other leaders, their reigns have brought the country or state involved into another dimension. The manners wherein they execute their powers and authorities give the involved nation a new face. For every actions that are created and for every policy or regulation that is made, these create a domino effect. It affects not only the constitutional embodiment of the country—the social and the economic factors are also impacted by it. Hugo Chavez is a known military man that has successfully championed Venezuela’s freedom from economic and political oppression.
Given this aspect at hand, Chavez’s rule can be either considered as a boon or bane. With his militaristic background and involvement with different kinds of coup attempts, biggest concerns have been expressed on how Chavez will be able to observe human rights and yet remain firm with his respective decisions. On the other hand, if matters would get worse, for example, if poverty would lead to severe crime and violence, the interference of the international community and those who proclaim themselves as concerned allies and harbingers of freedom and democracy.
Moreover, Chavez’s outright statement of totally opposing the United States seems to place Venezuela’s economic condition into an uncompromising situation. Venezuela, like Iraq is one of the United States’ major oil suppliers (Leech 2006, p. 167). The two countries evident share a special economic relationship that can be readily staggered. With all these considerations at hand, Hugo Chavez’s leadership is both praised and criticized at the same time.
These have also placed a great challenge for a ruler who has remained strong and firm over the decisions that he made and the visions that he aspires to achieve, not only for Venezuela per se, but for the overall Latin America region. His astounding comeback in 2002, after he was allegedly overthrown and his direct mention of the United States’ involvement now places Venezuela into one of its most important historical growth and development The Politics of Hugo Chavez The name of Hugo Chavez is not new within the Venezuelan politics.
Long before he became the country’s president, his name has been already echoing throughout the Venezuelan plain. His prominence is widely felt not only because of his charisma, most especially to the poor, but also, Chavez has been instrumental in several coup attempt such as what happened in 1992, against former Venezuelan President Carlos Andez Perez (Dydynski et. al 2004, p. 27). The plot to overthrow Perez, despite of the fact that it eventually failed seemed to work more on Chavez advantage. It was more of a boon rather than bane.
Critically speaking, the failure of Chavez coup seems to provide the masses with the hero that they have so long waited. The (drama) and at the same time the (excitement) of such move, served as a big break to the former military man’s political career. As many have often said, publicity whether such is good or bad is still publicity. It can be fairly argued in this case that Chavez’s imprisonment enabled him to further widen his connections and at the same time build hope for his supporters. There is the hope that his release would soon result to the masses’ victory.
There is the promise of triumph in terms of overcoming the poisonous fangs of poverty, corruption and declining economic conditions. However, if the poor found a saving refuge, this is not true for some groups and organizations—most especially the ones that are readily engage in business endeavors and matters. But this seemingly antagonistic orientation is not only felt within the domains of Venezuela alone. Outside forces, most especially the United States have expressed their greatest concerns when Chavez was finally hailed as President in 1999 (Leech 2006, p.
167). Leech (2006) described that Chavez’s inauguration posited a great threat to the United States (p. 167). The healthy relationship that the two countries have preserved and maintained is now being placed in a very uncompromising situation. Leech’s (2006) arguments are also supported by Ellner and Salas (2006, p. xiii). The two explained that in 1998, Venezuela was then looking at a more productive and healthier relationship with the United States. The connection between the United States and Venezuela is more of an economic partnership.
If one has to assess this scenario, the nature of the two countries interdependency is basically more important than literal friendship per se. Basically, the two nations’ economic growth and welfare is at stake in here. Ali (2005) shared that Venezuela is the largest oil-producing country in the rest of Latin America (p. 44). United States, on the other hand is in dire need of oil for it to be able to continue with its operations and at the same time secure its position within the economic hierarchy.
During the times wherein the mutual relationship of the two was given extreme importance and value, the Venezuelan community was also focusing much of the attention into baseball and winning prestigious beauty tittles (Ellner & Salas 2006, p. xiii). In this kind of set-up, a wealthy and abundant life seems to await many Venezuelan constituents. However, when Chavez has finally assured himself of the presidency and overtly proclaimed both his skepticism and pessimism of globalization, in which the United States readily champions and promotes, it seems that the trust and confidence from both parties have been already broken.
Venezuela’s influence when it comes to oil trade with the United States cannot be readily undermine. Rupperts and Fitts (2004) shared that Venezuelan oil takes a shorter span of time before it finally reaches the United States’ shores ( p. 542). According to the two, while itusually take several months before oil from the Persian Gulf arrives in the United States, in Venezuela, the United States will have to wait for just four (4) days (Rupperts & Fritts 2004, p. 542). Relatively, the United States can immediately utilized the much needed oil. The latter is assured that their oil-based operations can function on an everyday basis.
Delays do not become a problem and faster and speedier transactions are duly made. But then again, when Chavez was chosen president, he did not only criticized the United States, he is also known for having strong connections with Fidel Castro and at the same time, he is supportive of those countries wherein the United States have had negative relations (Rupperts & Fitss 2004, p. 542). As Rupperts and Fitts (2004) shared, the United States cannot possibly give up its oil interests in Venezuela (542). However, the world superpower must readily bear with Hugo Chavez (Rupperts & Fitts 2004, p.
542). If one has to take a closer look, the positions taken by Hugo Chavez is geared towards Venezuela’s independence. Although this is something that is aspired by each and every political leader, Chavez tends to present a unique twist when it comes to Venezuela’s independence. From a critical perspective, the independence that Chavez purports is for the country to sustain its growth and development without the aid of external political forces. This is most especially true if the involved parties are the ones which Chavez sees as supporters and harbingers of globalization.
There is the tacit notion for Chavez that globalization will simply lead the country to more depressing situations and the economic mishaps that it has been experiencing will simply get even worse. Hugo Chavez and Bolivarianism Simon Bolivar’s appeal never really faded. Despite of the fact that only his memories survive in the current generation, his teachings and legacies were never forgotten. This is most especially true to those individuals who had expressed their deepest beliefs and supports to what Bolivar had started and dreamed of.
Bolivar is considered as one of Venezuela’s most celebrated cultural icons. Although he was born under a rich family, this did not prevent him from championing the deep-seated concerns of the black slaves (Gott 2005, p. 101). He had readily rallied against the Spanish occupation and fought for the freedom and independence not only of Venezuela but also of other Latin American nations such as those of Ecuador, Columbia and Peru (Gott 2000, p. 93). The actions taken by Simon Bolivar lead to the creation of a cult following, more commonly known as Bolivarianism (Francis & Kauffman 2005, p.
314). The underlying ideological concerns of Bolivarianism are to ensure that the whole Latin America would soon form a united and solid cultural and political identity that would go against the miserable chains of imperialism and inequality (Francis & Kauffman 2005, p. 314). Along with this belief, there is the desire for the whole region to achieve economic dependency, exercise of democracy as well as the elimination of corruption that has been plaguing each and every existing nation or state (Francis & Kauffman 2005, p. 314).
Bolivarianism did not go unnoticed under Hugo Chavez scrutinizing eyes. The latter has readily adopted the Bolivar school of thought and used it as a guiding light towards managing and leading the whole Venezuela. As Gott (2005) explained, Chavez saw the need of reincarnating the ideals and visions of the late Simon Bolivar. The resemblance of the two leaders does not simply stem from the fact that Chavez have readily practiced Bolivarianism. The two also confronted similar problems. Classic example of this is the conflict in terms of reuniting the whole Latin America (Gott 2000 p.
92). As for Bolivar’s terms, the region sees themselves as incapable of going against the Spanish colonizers. The same dilemma is now faced by Chavez, however, instead of Spain, it is the imperialists that give him the total headache. Chavez makes a move Chavez, upon his inauguration has been very open about amending the Venezuelan constitution. The amendments, if one would take a closer look, seem to be a move that is readily directed towards creating policies and regulations that would readily champion the concerns and interests of the poor or the working class.
This strategy further gained the trust and confidence of the masses. But this is not true as for the case of the upper class members of the Venezuelan community. One of the most significant contributions and impact that Chavez accomplished is when he transformed oil companies into publicly-owned facilities. Even though this has ignited tons of criticisms and pessimism from the affected parties, this did not hinder Chavez from pursuing its aims. Drawing on the Bolivarian school of thought, the nationalization of oil companies is yet another step for Chavez to continue what his mentor has started.
The oil, which is one of the country’s most precious commodities, is sought after by different nations. Oil is basically essential in running the whole economy. Given this situation at hand, it can be seen that from oil alone, Venezuela can already survive. However, the problem in this case is that, Venezuela, based from Chavez’s perspectives does not really serve the interests and concerns of the masses. More often than not, only the elite benefits from it and the economic discrepancies between the two opposing classes continue to widen.
The political move of Chavez therefore serves as a bench mark in achieving the sought after Pan-Americanism that Simon Bolivar has once dreamed of. But then again, because of the sudden drastic changes, many of the country’s elites have expressed their hesitations and vehements against the said program. In addition to that, if there is anyone who is more concerned about the matter, it is the United States. On April 2002, Hugo Chavez was suddenly taken out of the limelight when a coup detat was able to conduct a partial take-over (Petit & Starbird 2000, p. 328).
Chavez who was then seen as the champion of the masses suddenly disappeared and is nowhere to find. However, Chavez was able to regain and his powers, several days after and accused the United States of conspiring to initiate and let such plot materialized (Petit & Starbird 2000, p. 328). Therefore, the intensity of Chavez’s aims to go against imperialism heightened. Apparently, the anti-imperialistic notions of Chavez was not simply patterned on Bolivarianism, there is no doubt that Chavez is also a solid believer of socialism. The leftist orientation of Venezuela is not very uncommon.
Once and for all, other countries such as those of Cuba for example have been long governed by the communist orientation that was of course, championed by no one else but Fidel Castro. There is also Argentina, the native land of the legendary Ernesto “Che” Guevara whose memories have inspired many not only to follow his footsteps but also to instill the leftist orientation that the latter has so long adhered to. Chavez, on the other hand, would not want Venezuela to remain at the periphery. However, it is important to note that aspect cannot be merely described as a product of vox populi.
Rather, it is more of Chavez’s choice and the governing orientations that he has exemplified for the longest period of time. The unsuccessful coup detat made against him simply added to Chavez’s charisma and the support of the masses was further reinforced. The Question of Democracy Hugo Chavez has gained a considerable degree of approval among the whole populace. But then again, there is also the question of whether there is still indeed democracy running in Venezuele or whether such is a mere rhetorical term. Loperena (2003, p. 13) described that democracy in Venezuela is no less than a theatrical act.
Once and for all, many have seen that Chavez was fast gaining authoritarianism in the sense that his government has readily failed to achieve consensus. By consensus, this does not exclude the concerns of the upper class. Moreover, the militaristic orientation and training of Chavez, which is also observed in Bolivar is very much capable of suppressing and destroying the overall essence and value of democracy. In addition to that, the outright support provided for the anti-US regions creates an image for Venezuela as a nation supportive of terrorist acts.
Many of Chavez’s critics would like to think that the latter’s appeal and support from the masses were simply driven by terror and terror and fear. The Economy at Stake Since the Venezuelan oil is now being freed from the grip of the United States, the biggest concern that the country now faces is how to market its primary product without depending in fully industrialized countries that are tagged as imperialists. Indeed, Venezuela’s economy, if not readily addressed and attended to, faces a major loss.
If this happens, the poverty and the injustice that is experienced by the poor may simply get worse. One aspect that Chavez and his government now faces is how the public can possibly continue to support him if they continue to remain in such impoverish states. In addition to that, there is also the strong need for Chavez on how to maintain good relations with other countries who may not be necessary imperialists, but are strong supporters and loyal allies of the latter. Conclusion Evidently, Hugo Chavez can be fairly considered as Simon Bolivar’s successor or descendant for that matter.
His dreams to achieve solidarity among the whole Latin America as well as to rally against imperialism is a clear manifestation and exemplification of the Bolivarian school of thought. However, the question of democracy and economic stability are two important aspects that question the efficiency of Chavez’s leadership and capabilities. However, if one has to take a closer look, democracy is still being practiced in Venezuela. Perhaps the conflicts and dilemmas occur simply because Chavez tends to deviate from the norms and conventions that has been embedded into the thinking of many.
The mere fact that Chavez still attains the approval of the masses is a clear example of democracy at its best. The authoritarian regime readily articulated by Chavez’s critics can be fairly described as hegemonic opinions that are unmet. These arguments seem to be bitter contentions of the imperial powers who simply want to put everything under their very own control. Therefore, Chavez’s deviation is immediately dismissed as a threat to democracy. If Chavez uses democracy to let him fulfill his duties as president, then his critics are also using democracy for their own self-vested interests.
In the meantime, on the question of economic stability, once and for all, it can be seen that dependents on Venezuelan oil cannot easily dismiss Chavez. Chavez can capitalize on its natural resources, whereas those that badly need oil would not want to easily give up on Venezuela. It is therefore apparent that the planned ouster for Chavez is nothing but a mere move to basically suppress Venezuela’s rights to exploit its own power and strength and at the same time pursue their individualistic gains and benefits.
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