On September 12 Venezuela’s left-wing President Hugo Chavez announced the expansion of the Development Bank for Women — Banmujer — during a meeting in the Teresa Carreno Theatre to celebrate five years since the bank’s founding. Chavez offered another 100 billion bolivares (A$65 million) in resources to the bank.
Last year the Chilean polling firm Latinobarometro published results from 20,000 face-to-face interviews in 18 Latin American countries. Venezuelans, more than any other nationality polled, described their government as “totally democratic” and expressed an optimism in their country’s future that outpaced any other. This response sits in stark contrast to what would have been found just a decade earlier if a similar poll had been conducted. To understand this phenomenon we must take a look at Venezuelan politics before President Hugo Chavez came on the scene.


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