Another long post, and only half of what I have to say. Don't get me started on what's wrong with Venezuela!
I'm disappointed by the results of the referendum, but if the results are deemed valid by the international observers, the opposition now has no option other than to shut up and accept the inevitable. My desire to see Chávez ousted has nothing to do with political or social ideology - it's simply based on the fact that, under Chávez, the Venezuelan economy has gone from bad to worse. The poor and middle class folk are worse off than ever; and as for the rich elites, I can't say anything about them (as I’m not personally acquainted with any of that class!), but I imagine that they’re as rich as ever. What is stated in the link below rings true for me, as it echoes what I myself have seen, and what family and friends in Venezuela are telling me.
A few points from the article:
* The economy shrank 9 percent last year and hasn't grown since 2001.
* Per capita income was $5,380 from 1990 to 2002 - below that of neighbouring Colombia, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
* Unemployment is 15 percent, according to government statistics, compared with 11 percent in 1998.
* More than half of adult Venezuelans lack formal employment, eking out livings as maids, cabbies or street peddlers.
* Of more than 11,000 factories operating in 1999, fewer than 5,000 were still open in 2003, according to Venezuela's leading industry chamber, Conindustria
* Inflation is expected to reach 25 percent in 2004; the highest in Latin America.
Add to this the government’s efforts to limit the freedom of the press and the repeated warnings from international bodies regarding the erosion of the independence of the various branches of the government.
The president has spent millions on far-reaching social 'missions', including a nationwide literacy program, scholarships to help people finish high school, state-run bargain supermarkets and Cuban doctors sent to work in slums. These programmes have had a positive impact on their lives, so it's understandable that the poor should vote for Chávez - they're more concerned with their daily needs rather than in the big picture. The fact that Chávez hasn't succeeded in improving the economic lot of the average Venezuelan is almost invariably blamed on the opposition, who "won't let the president do his job".
The whole subject of Venezuelan politics depresses me. The opposition is certainly more politically and economically savvy than Chávez and his MVR-istas, but they're no more trustworthy and no less corrupt than the current administration. With me, it's more a case of wanting to go back to the devil Venezuela knew before... because there's no knowing what this new devil may do next.
In all honesty, I feel that I'm incredibly lucky to have the option of not living in Venezuela.
[Edited 2004-08-16 18:02:31]
Cada loco con su tema...