Venezuelans must defeat Chávez to bring change


The Venezuelan people went to the polls on Sept. 26 to elect deputies to the National Assembly.

It was a highly anticipated race between the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV in Spanish) led by President Hugo Chávez and an electoral coalition of opposition parties.

Although the PSUV were able to maintain a majority government by winning 95 of 165 seats in the National Assembly, the opposition was able to make a significant gain over the party’s control of legislation. The PSUV lost its two-thirds majority and will no longer be able to pass major legislation without the support of opposition members.

The check on the PSUV’s control over the legislature is a sign that a growing number of Venezuelans are fed up with the rampant corruption and undemocratic manipulation of institutions that are synonymous with the radical political revolution launched by Hugo Chávez in 1999.

Despite being elected into office under a campaign that emphasized the elimination of the culture of corruption in Venezuela, Hugo Chávez has created a government that has far surpassed any previous administration in Venezuelan history with respect to the prevalence of corruption.

The dictator-like speeches where Chávez talks of having radically reformed Venezuelan society for the better are shown to be nothing but blatant lies when looking deeper into the reality of the political process in Venezuela.

One of the most controversial highlights of the presidency of Hugo Chávez is the referendum on constitutional reform that took place in 1999, which allowed Chávez and his supporters to consolidate power over the Venezuelan government.

Political institutions such as the Congress, Supreme Court of Justice and the Electoral Council were dissolved and replaced by new institutions, while more constitutional powers were transferred over to the legislative branch where positions were stacked with supporters of Chávez.

The government’s ability to assume control over all political institutions has allowed Chávez to circumvent the function of a system of checks and balances that is supposed to exist in a constitutional republic.

The power of the current Venezuelan government knows few limits and will do anything it can to stay in power, even if it means violating the constitutional and human rights of its citizens.

It is not uncommon to hear of judges who make a legal decision that is not in line with the interests of the government being subjected to imprisonment. Political discrimination in Venezuela is out of control.

According to the Centre for Global Liberty and Prosperity, the names of those who vote in opposition are compiled for the purpose of retaliation through being barred from various public services and employment opportunities.

Creating second-class citizens on the basis of political belief is unacceptable and does not align with the fundamental principle of a state’s responsibility to provide equal services to all citizens.

It is incumbent upon the Venezuelan people to see past the grandiose cult of personality Chávez has created for himself and advocate for leadership that does not exclude on the basis of holding alternative political views.

The Chávez presidency has long been focused on policies to provide greater wealth distribution yet has disregarded avenues for new wealth to be created in favour of increased state control over economic institutions.

The current government’s total rejection of the idea of private enterprise is irresponsible and will eventually render such policies to be unsustainable.
Chávez announced after the recent election that he is now ready to
“radicalize” his political revolution in light of his party’s victory.

It is painful to fathom what kinds of implications this promise will have on the democratic process when the problems that currently exist are taken into consideration. Venezuelans made a tremendous step forward, but the nightmare will not be over until Chávez is defeated.

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