Venezuela: Five things we can learn from Chavez's win

Alejandro Fierro from Rebelion spells out five key lessons to be taken from the Venezuela's presidential elections, which were one by President Hugo Chavez with 55% of the vote. It was translated by Tamara Pearson from Venezuela Analysis.

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1. Venezuela is an authentic democracy

Venezuela has shown once again that it is one of the most solid democracies in Latin America. The elections were clean and transparent, with 80% participation, something unthinkable at other latitudes. This high index is even more surprising if you take into account that since 1998, when Chavez became president, the people have been called to the voting booths 15 times.

2. The media has been delegitimised

International press have manipulated information to present the right-wing as a winning option in the face of a Chavez abandoned by the people and who would only stay in power thanks to his abusive use of institutional power. Making use of the lack of knowledge of its audience about Venezuela’s reality, they haven’t hesitated to only report on those polls that predicted Capriles would win, to only interview opposition members, to present known anti-Chavistas as supposed impartial analysts or to distort statistics and facts.

Once again, the mass media has not fulfilled its main obligation and reason for being, which is to guarantee the right to information to the citizenry (a consecrated right in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

3. The people support Chavez

The president maintains a majority support base. To win by 10 points after 14 years in power is within the range of few heads of state. The results show that the Venezuelan electorate doesn’t share in the grotesque caricature that the media and neoliberal politics create of our Bolivarian leader.

The connection between Chavez and the people is based on the advances over these last years. The fulfilling of promises is what allowed for Chavez to say on October 4 in front of more than a million people, “I have never failed you, I’ve never lied to you,” and it sounded believable.

4. The attacks will continue

The first declarations made after Chavez’s victory made it clear that the bullying will continue. The defamation, the harassment, the broad criticisms, and political and economic blackmail will go on. Once again the supposed advanced democracies don’t respect the people’s decision when they believe that it goes against their own interests.

5. There are alternatives

Venezuela is proof that another model is possible. Its achievements are indisputable: 5.6% GDP growth, decreased unemployment from 15% in 1998 to 7% now and it continues going down, eradication of hunger and illiteracy, cutting poverty from 60% to 27%, and extreme poverty from 25% to 7%, being the fifth country in the world for university graduation rates, extending free and universal healthcare.

Other countries are on the same path, with similarities that are closer or not so closer: Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras (though with the last two countries, neoliberalism didn’t hesitate to overthrow them through coups against legitimately elected governments). Latin America today is the last trench in the face of the dogma of cutbacks, privatisations, and suppression of rights. The popular bases in Europe would do will to look in this mirror.