The renewed reign of Chavez can bring good to Venezuala, if the leader is willing to compromise, writes Fabian Di Lizia
Hugo Chavez has been re-elected comfortably in the Venezuelan Presidential election, returning 55 per cent of the vote to Henrique Capriles’ 44 per cent.
International commentary suggested Chavez’s working-class and peasant bases would fragment and vote against him, but this simply didn’t happen.
But Chavez’s hold on power marks uncertainty for the country. His ongoing Bolivarian-socialist revolution has had its positives for the country, but also a lot of negatives. It is unsurprising that Venezuela is strongly divided.
The poor of the nation were granted free healthcare, education and welfare. They were also empowered through public housing and land redistribution.
Chavez has fostered Latin American solidarity, creating a balance of power against American foreign policy interests.
However, the middle class has become severely disillusioned. Their land has been systemically repossessed, and Venezuela is facing the fourth highest level of inflation globally. Markets plummeted following the results.
Chavez’s state-driven revolution has also fostered a corruption-ridden bureaucracy. State officials are struggling to deal with crime, with 50 murders recorded for every 100,000 residents.
Perhaps the most pertinent election post-mortem comes from Chavez’s opponent himself. “I hope he gives respect and recognition for the 6.5 million Venezuelans who voted against him,” said Capriles.
The vexed economic, political and social future of Venezuela is compounded with uncertainty surrounding Chavez himself. He facing a battle with cancer and his exact health status remains a state secret.
The future is uncertain, but if Chavez can learn to compromise, he can achieve some real reform.
Chavez may be able to help economic efficiency if he is willing to remove corruption from his public service and return the focus to efficiency.
Judicial and police reforms need to be implemented alongside Chavez’s social inclusion policies to effectively address crime. Venezuela’s drop in inequality coincided with increased rates of violence.
Chavez has economically empowered the poor of Venezuela, achieving the lowest level of inequality in South America. However, the land-owning classes have been disillusioned. Chavez must empower all tiers of society and allow for growth to come from top and bottom. Again, compromise may be needed from Chavez to drop his socialist rhetoric, but it may be for the benefit of Venezuela.