From 1958 to 1998 two political parties dominated and controlled the Venezuelan political scene. For the most part of those 40 years Venezuela was considered a model and stable democracy. However, it was all an illusion.
On February 27 1989, right after the second inauguration of Carlos Andres Perez, the country exploded with riots. There were wide spread protests against the implementation of an IMF-World Bank economic package supposedly designed to take the country out of its economic darkness. The problem was that, as usual, the people at the lower socioeconomic levels were asked to pay the highest price. The result: an estimated number of more than 5 thousand deaths, although the mainstream media calculated the number somewhere between 3 and 5 hundreds.
In 1992, Venezuela’s “model and stable” democracy suffered two more violent manifestations of its melanoma. There were two military coup attempts that year, one in February and one in November.
Then, in 1993, the two-party system received its first serious political blow. The founder of one of the dominant parties broke ranks from his creation and was elected president. The former two “main candidates” were relegated to second and third place. That was a clear signal of what was coming around the political corner.
In November of 1998, there were elections for the National Congress. Hugo Chavez’s one year old party won enough seats to become, in its first elections, the second political force in the country. A month later, as expected, Chavez was elected president with 62% of the votes.
Since then, there have been many political changes in Venezuela. Even though all the changes have been promoted by President Hugo Chavez, none of those changes have actually taken place without the approval of the Venezuelan people.
Since December of 1998, there have been a total of 14 major elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez and his supporters have won 13 times, 12 of them consecutively. His opponents have won only one. They claimed they won the last one also but that is a matter of interpretation. In any case, there is one significant fact in these elections: the Venezuelan people have elected Chavez as their President in three consecutive occasions. And that is besides his victory in the presidential recall referendum.
Certainly, there have been accusations of election fraud in Venezuela. However, all of them are unjustified. Simply put, Mister President, there are two telling facts about the “election frauds” in Venezuela. One is that the opposition considers fraud all the elections they have lost. The other one is that they consider legitimate only the two they say they have won. You can make your own conclusions.
The same as you Mister President, I do not believe in ideologies. However, politically speaking, Venezuela has always been, at least since the 1960’s, a socialist democracy. The difference between now and then is that now, in my opinion, the Venezuelan people is getting his piece of the pie. That, in my opinion, explains Chavez’s 13 electoral victories in 10 years.
Mister President, Hugo Chavez is not a dictator. The Venezuelan government is not a dictatorship. Venezuela is actually a country where there is anarchy of expression and other things. Just read the newspapers. Venezuela is a place where “pacifically” blocking a highway to protest against the government is considered a right protected by the Constitution. Any form of government intervention is considered repression and a violation of human rights. I have told these people: try blocking Pennsylvania Av. with trash to protest “pacifically” against the US government. When the police ask you to clean it up and leave, make use of your “rights” and refuse. Then watch what happen to your “human rights”… Do you see my point, Mister President?
It is true that the relations between the US and Venezuela have been sour for the last eight years. And they should be. President Bush gave his unconditional support to the Venezuelan opposition. With his support they have tried to overthrow our President at least three times. They almost succeeded once. In that occasion, President Chavez almost lost his life. In addition to that, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Venezuelan opposition staged the media hyped presidential recall referendum. Based on the election results, it proved to be totally unnecessary.
I really believe that change has come to America. Just fifty years ago, anybody that looked like you was not allowed to sit in the front seat of a public bus. Now, you are the President! I celebrate that. Take advantage of this historical opportunity and make it also a change for the rest of the world. Stop supporting the minority in Venezuela and every where else as President Bush did.
Mister President, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a democracy. Hugo Chavez is our chosen President. Lend your support to the Venezuelan government, support democracy, support the majority of the Venezuelans.
Mister President, as you said in your inauguration speech:
“The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”
Make it happen!