Venezuelans most positive about country in Latin America

February 1, 2008

Although the corporate media present an image of Venezuelans suffering under would-be dictator President Hugo Chavez, whose supposedly irresponsible and populist policies are ruining the country, a new poll released by non-profit NGO Latinobarometro reveals that Venezuelans have the most positive view in Latin America about the state of their country and the direction it's heading in.

An article by Pascual Serrano posted on on January 17 reported on Latinobarometro's recently released results for 2007. The poll was conducted in 18 countries in Latin America, excluding Cuba, and involved 19,000 interviews.

Serrano reported that the results "have been scarcely spread by the media due to what it shows regarding Venezuela".

The confidence rating for a country's president was much higher in Venezuela than the regional average — 60% for the socialist Chavez compared to an average of 43%. The article also reported that Chavez was elected with the highest percentage of registered voters of any Latin American president, closely followed by left-wing President Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Venezuela had the highest level of confidence in its government of any country, 66% compared to an average of 39%.

In 1998, the number of those satisfied with democracy, according to the Latinobarometro poll at the time, was only 35% in Venezuela with an average of 37% across Latin America. In 2007, the regional average remained the same, but the figure had risen to 59% in Venezuela, the second highest after Uruguay.

Asked to describe the country's economic situation, Venezuela was overwhelmingly the country where most respondents answered "very good" or "good" — 52% compared to an average of just 21%. Asked about the countries future economic prospects, Venezuela is again way out in front, with 50% answering positively. The nearest rival is Uruguay with 37%.

Why Venezuela is so far ahead of other nations isn't hard to fathom when you consider not just Venezuela's phenomenal economic growth since 2003 and halving of poverty levels, but the responses in the poll about what sort of economic model Latin Americans support.

After over two decades of brutal neoliberalism, support for a "market economy" has plummeted, with 13 countries having majorities opposing it as the best economic model. A majority in all countries disagree that privatising state assets is beneficial to the nation.

In Venezuela, the Chavez government has been reversing neoliberal polices, including nationalising previously privatised companies. By breaking with neoliberal orthodoxies and spending oil wealth on programs to tackle poverty and develop the economy, Venezuela has secured its impressive figures for growth and poverty reduction — gains reflected in popular opinion.

At the same time, Venezuela has attempted to break with the "business-as-usual" corrupt nominally democratic models that have dominated Latin America (and Venezuela until Chavez came to power), seeking to construct a model based on "participatory democracy" and popular power.

It would seem the Venezuelan people haven't read the editorials of the Wall Street Journal, or they have but know from personal experience the Journals's paid scribes are talking bollocks.

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