Since 1998, voters have elected Hugo Chavez to the presidency three times with increasing margin each time and on August 15, 2004, voters returned to polls to decide whether to remove him from office or not. 59% of voters confirmed the President's mandate and defeated the recall initiative. First Hugo Chavez's victory in the 1998 presidential elections surprised political predictions and academics alike. In fact, the political scientist Luis Gomez asserted that, despite the widespread recognition of the existence of a political crisis, very few thought that the force capable of displacing Accion Democratica (AD) and COPEI, the traditionally dominant political parties, would be the Chavismo.
The increasingly decisive victories of the Chavez presidency raise many issues. No one doubts that President Chavez is determined to lead his country, Venezuela, toward socialism. Fidel Castro constantly repeated the name, ideals and teachings of Jose Marti. He attributed to his "Revolution" the spirit of Marti and expressed the desire to finish Marti's planned integration of Latin America. As far as Hugo Chavez is concerned, he invokes the name of Simon Bolivar with the same reverence, respect and intention as Fidel Castro did with Marti. He professes that nowadays Venezuela is reigniting the Bolivarian Revolution, and says he has been passed the torch and the mission from Marti, Bolivar and Castro. Hugo Chavez, through his Bolivarian Revolution, has resigned himself to act in the sense of what those men called for: the unification of Latin America and the Caribbean as a counterbalance to the United States hegemony. Part of the historical and cultural significance of the Chavismo comes from its appropriation of the figure of Simon Bolivar.
[...] Chavez is expected to continue to influence his neighbours through this kind of petro- diplomacy and rhetorical assertions against the United States and free market integration. Chavez's charisma, anti-colonial/Bolivarian rhetoric and increasing levels of poverty form the basis of his support among the poor and dissatisfied middle-classes. Chavez's governing style and the problems he faces as he labours to turn around the country's stagnant economy. Populist initiatives aimed at wealth redistribution, land reform and a more Third-World-orientated foreign policy form the main features of the Bolivarian regime. [...]
[...] II/ A Bolivarian Revolution that cannot achieve itself without free market Toward a Latin American integration The last half of the 20th century witnessed numerous attempts to form a Common Market. Apart from NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which includes one Latin American member state (Mexico), only one Latin American free market has come been fulfilled: the MERCOSUR, the 'Market of the South'. Chavez's most urgent aim is the economic independence of Latin America which has traditionally relied heavily on trade with the United States. [...]
[...] According to Hugo Chavez, the leaders of the elites and the oligarchy before him have betrayed the people over the past 40 years, and that's why a “Bolivarian revolution”, a “peaceful and democratic” revolution through which the people will recover their dignity is necessary. In his speeches and televised talks, Chavez has characterized the contemporary world we're living in as unjustly “unipolar” and inequitable. He also hardly condemned neoliberalism: believe that in this part of the world, neoliberalism is the path to hell. [...]
[...] it could be said that the actually existing MERCOSUR represents a ‘movement toward capitalism,' In so far as MERCOSUR does reinforce the centrality of the free market in the economies of its member nations, it may serve to proscribe the ‘movement toward socialism' declared by Presidents Morales and Chávez. Now those left-wing governments in Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua and Ecuador are tempted toward regional integration by Chavez's promises of cheap oil for all. B - Neoliberalism in the Bolivarian Venezuela and the importance of oil The experience of the Chavez government in the areas of oil reform puts in evidence the broad outlines of an alternative to neoliberalism. [...]
[...] Rejecting the United States economic hegemony through the Bolivarian Revolution led in Venezuela Rejecting the free market integration The Bolivarian government of Hugo Chavez Frias represents an attempt to liberate Venezuela from the neoliberal framework that continues to dominate, with growing difficulties, in the region. In a published interview that was held with Tarik Ali, Chavez defined the basic content of the Bolivarian project in the following way: ) I don't accept that we are leaving in a period of proletarian revolutions. [...]
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