Hugo Chavez & The “New Democracy”
In the working-class neighbourhood of Catia on Caracas’ west side, the streets are strewn with refuse; even the public spaces, the plazas and street-shopping laneways are neglected. Caracas’ west side is part of the sprawling district of Sucre, one of Latin America’s largest and one of Caracas’ oldest barrios. At a meeting called by local activists last January, Catia residents complained that the Sucre district council wasn’t doing its job, that the head of the district council was inept and wholly corrupt. Not only was the council neglecting garbage collection and other community services for which they were responsible, they were extorting small businesses in the area.
Red Ballot: Voting for Revolution in Venezuela
Venezuelans waited hours to cast their vote in a referendum to decide not only the future of President Hugo Chávez, but also of the Bolivarian revolution that he has spearheaded. The result was a remarkable mobilization amongst the poor that was a reflection of Chavez’s decision not only to campaign against neoliberalism electorally but actually to govern against neoliberalism.
All over the world, the international Left – including the global social justice movement – is peering sceptically at Venezuela, unsure of what to make of President Hugo Chávez’ alleged democratic revolution. Is Chávez the next Allende? Is the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ really revolutionary? Is it anti-capitalist? Or does he merely represent another chimera in a long line of populists who rile up the masses with rousing condemnations of US Imperialism, only to quietly cut deals with international capital?