Hugo Chávez always sought to make the Venezuelan government more participatory and inclusive of all Venezuelans. This required him to take away privileges and power from the elites of the old regime, who had led the country into a miserable economic crisis and political collapse in the 1990s.
Early in his presidency, a democratically elected assembly re-wrote the constitution, and Chávez appointed ministers from outside the traditional elites. Nonetheless, he remained open to compromise with his wealthy opposition, allowing them to continue doing business as long as they respected national sovereignty and accepted the transfer of resources to the poor. The leaders of the old regime, however, rejected compromise and strove unwaveringly to remove Chávez from office by any means.
They first attempted a military coup in collaboration with the corporate media, then later proceeded with a failed referendum, electoral boycotts, violent riots and street barricades, and economic sabotage through large-scale hoarding, all the while losing almost every electoral contest.
Chávez The Radical II shows how all of the opposition’s top political and business leaders were unyielding in their call for Chávez’s exit from office as the only acceptable option. These include Leopoldo Lopez, co-founder of the opposition party Voluntad Popular and leader of violent street protests; Julio Borges, co-founder of Primero Justicia; Henrique Capriles, presidential candidate in 2012; Henry Ramos Allup, secretary of the opposition party Acción Democrática; Pedro Carmona, president of the Venezuelan chamber of commerce, who was briefly named interim president after ousting Chávez in the 2002 military coup; the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was quick to recognize the business-led government that replaced Chávez during the coup; and several leaders of the Catholic Church, who have been allied with the opposition.
Chávez’s response is to view himself as a “sucker” for ever thinking his opponents would compromise, and he declares that reaching an understanding with the opposition is impossible, because the counter-revolutionaries cannot coexist with revolutionaries within one state.