Venezuelans See Economy and Democracy More Positively Than Other Latin Americans

The non-profit NGO Latinobarómetro released its annual poll surveying the development of democracies, economies, and societies in Latin America, applying attitudinal, opinion, and behavioral indicators. Its results are very eloquent regarding the Latin American people’s ideology and opinion, especially when referring to Venezuela.

The non-profit NGO Latinobarómetro released its annual poll surveying the development of democracies, economies, and societies in Latin America, applying attitudinal, opinion, and behavioral indicators. Its results are very eloquent regarding the Latin American people’s ideology and opinion, especially when referring to Venezuela.

It conducted 19,000 interviews in 18 Latin American countries, represented by more than 400 million inhabitants. The data of this foundation, based on Santiago de Chile, are used by political and social actors, international organizations, governments, and mass media.

However, they have been scarcely spread by the media due to what it shows regarding Venezuela.

The first surveys of Latinobarómetro in America Latina were conducted between May and June 1995 and included 8 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, México, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Starting 1996, this survey has been conducted in 17 countries, with the further incorporation of the Dominican Republic in the year 2004, thus reaching the 18 countries of Latin America, with the exception of Cuba.

So far, 12 surveys have been conducted, including 216,998 interviews. The 2007 poll included 20,212 interviews and was conducted between September 7 and October 9, with sampling representing 100% of the population in the 18 Latin American countries.

According to the last Latinobarómetro poll, which included the following question: “In general, would you say you are very satisfied, fairly satisfied, not very satisfied or not satisfied at all with the way democracy works in (country)?,” in 1998 the indicator called satisfaction with democracy in Latin America was 37% (Answer shown ‘Very satisfied’ plus ‘fairly satisfied’), while it was below 35% in Venezuela.

In the 2007 Latinobarómetro poll, Latin America’s average satisfaction with democracy has remained 37%, while it has increased to 59% in Venezuela. According to this indicator, Venezuela has become the second Latin American country with the highest satisfaction with democracy after Uruguay (Page 80 of the Latinobarómetro poll).

Regarding approval of government and confidence in the government, last year Venezuela’s index was 66%, thus ranking 1st in Latin America, whose average was 39%. To the question “Do you approve or disapprove of the performance of the government headed by (Name of President of Country)?”, Venezuela answered as follows:

While the media do not stop portraying the Venezuelan president as a scourge to his citizens, Latinobarómetro shows that the Venezuelan citizens’ confidence in Chávez is 60%, compared with Latin America’s average of 43%.

The positive perception of the democratic system is also shown in the citizens’ confidence in the political parties. This indicator shows Latin America with a low confidence, but Venezuela’s confidence in its political parties is the highest of all the countries with 36% compared with an average of 20%.

Let’s review the country’s present economic situation. Interviewees had to answer the following question: “In general, how would you describe the country’s present economic situation? Would you say it is very good, good, about average, bad or very bad?” If we take into account the “very good” and “good” options, we’ll find out that Venezuela is – with a big difference (52%) – the country where citizens have a more positive perception. The average is 21%.

We found out something similar regarding the country’s future economic situation:

But this study also provides positive opinions given by Latin Americans; for instance, regarding the statement “Market economy is the only system required to become a developed country,” on page 28 of the report, we found that citizens of 13 Latin American countries disagree, against most citizens of just six countries, where all of them, except from one, variations tend to move towards disagreement in comparison to last year’s answer.

We can also see this change regarding the following question (Page 29): “Some people say that the State can solve the problems of our society because it has the means to do it. Would you say that the State can solve all the problems, most of the problems, many problems, just some problems or no problem?” The number of Latin Americans answering all the problems, most of the problems or many problems increases in comparison to previous years, while the number of Latin Americans answering just some problems falls.

Regarding the question “Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement? Privatizations of state-run companies have benefited the country?” (Page 24), strongly agree plus agree are not chosen by most of the interviewees in each country.

Actually, when they were asked “From the following activities, which activities do you think must be mostly in the State’s hands and which activities do you think must be mostly in private hands?” (Page 32), the option “in private hands” receives 24% for telephone services, 18% for electricity services and 16% for oil and fuels. On the other hand, the option “in the State’s hands” (Page 38) receives 77% for oil and fuels, 76% for electricity services and 69% for telephone services.

The report concludes that “without knowing the Washington Consensus, and without understanding what it is about, the citizens’ statements have been clearly exceeded because there is more State demand and less market demand to reach development.”

This report also analyzes the electoral results of the last presidential elections in the region’s countries. It highlights that “victories by Evo Morales in Bolivia, Álvaro Uribe in Colombia, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela are examples of presidents elected with more than 50% of the votes in first electoral rounds.”

“However – the report adds – if we take into account the electoral participation of registered voters in Venezuela, Hugo Chávez was elected with 45% of the number of registered voters; Evo Morales with 42% in Bolivia; and Álvaro Uribe with just 28% in Colombia.”

Latinobarómetro manages the first opinion data bank in Spanish, the first in the South Hemisphere and in Latin America. According to its Web Page (in Spanish) http://www.latinobarometro.org/, the system is operated by JDS System, Madrid. In 2007, Latinobarómetro signed an agreement with the University of Essex’s UK Data Archive in order to provide users of the English system and 150 universities in the United Kingdom with direct access to its data bank through http://www.esds.ac.uk. This access has been financed by UK Data Archive.

The 2007 report was supported by various organizations and governments, including other organizations such as the OAS (Organization of American States), the CAF (Andean Development Corporation), the SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), ELCANO (Real Instituto Elcano), AECI (Spanish Agency of International Cooperation) and the Denmark’s government.

Starting 2006, when the ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America) takes on the Secretary’s Office of Latinobarómetro’s Advising Council, its contribution to this study have meant counting on a significant experience in order to contextualize the Latin Americans’ perceptions according to their economic and social reality. The presentation of the 2007 data starts with a synoptic vision of the region’s economy especially provided by the ECLAC to this report.

By Pascual Serrano / Rebelión.org (In Spanish) / Wednesday, January 16, 2007
Tables found in Latinobarómetro Report 2007