Friday, June 01, 2007

Regarding "Washington's Quest for Allies in its Battle Against Chavez's Influence in the Americas and Beyond"

"Yet, when it comes to indicting Chavez with hard felonies, in most of the cases the evidence is wanting, with his critics often confusing his always harmless bark with his rarely exhibited bite. That is why many think that although scores of the region's leaders in the past abused the powers Chavez now holds, he should not be convicted before he commits the crime. The fact is that up to now, he has run one of Latin America's more robust democracies."

Jean Fournier responds to the preceding passage from COHA's May 31st piece.

Coha - How long is he in power? How much has the price of oil risen in that time? How much sustainable improvement has he made in social indicators in that time as opposed to an oil giveaway that will disappear if the price falls or Venezuelan production hits bottlenecks? What price has civil society paid for this improvement?

The undermining of civil society in Venezuela and the concentration of all power in Chavez's hands is not a harmless bark. Please stop along with the European media always going on about his democratic mandate. No-one doubts it. The question is 'does democratic mandate give a leader the right to undermine the basic pillars of civil society?' Is this to the long term benefit of a country? Peron won democratic
mandates but ran a populist authoritarian regime that had many of the characteristics of a dictatorship and his undermining of civil society had negative consequences that affected Argentina for several generations.

And the question about the Venezuelan elites. They are very reactionary and bad for the country but there comes a point when serious analysts of a country make the point that the awful elites, no matter how unsympathetic, can not be allowed to provide cover for a power grab. Why instead of lauding his attempted destruction of the
old elite focus on the fact that he is creating a new elite centred on his family, intimates, friendly military officers and native big business willing to cut deals with him. Why does no-one demand that the best way to prevent Venezuela being held back by the kind of cronyism and corruption that epitomised the old elites is to create a strong plural civil society, something he is manifestly failing or not
interested in doing despite having the opportunity to do so?


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