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Devenish, John (2005) Hugo Chavez and the Bolivian Revolution its importance to the global struggle againt Neo-liberalism (part 1 & 2 ). Centre for Civil Society 1 & 2: -.


HUGO CHAVEZ, A hero to many Venezuelans, Almost unknown outside Latin America. Hated by the USA. But what exactly is Chavez

Bolivian Revolution about? This series will discuss Chavez, his Bolivian Revolution and its relevance in the Global struggle against Neo-liberalism

Venezuela is middle income developing county, Rich in natural resources Oil, Aluminuim, Iron Ore and plenty of fertile land. Yet many of its people live in poverty

Venezuela's 19th and early 20th century history was one of political instability and dictatorial rule. Following the death of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935 and the demise of caudillismo (authoritarian oligarchical rule), democratic struggles forced the military to withdraw from direct involvement in national politics in 1958. Since that year, Venezuela has enjoyed an unbroken tradition of democratic civilian rule, though not without conflict.

From 1958 Venezuela had relatively progressive economic policy.The Oil & Aluminum Industries was nationalised in the 1970s and a state oil Company PDVSA formed. However in the 1980s the government was under increasing pressure to impliment Neo-Liberal reforms

Chávez was born July 28, 1954 to a mestizo(mixed Native American, African decent) family At the age of 17, Chávez joined the army as paratrooper he also studied at the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences. Graduated in 1975 in military sciences and engineering. Did further graduate work in political sciences at the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, but
left without a degree.

From an early age, Chávez was fascinated by Simón Bolívar, an important independence figure in Venezuela and Latin America.

In 1983, he founded the Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 (MBR-200, Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200).

In 1989,President Carlos Andrés Pérez announced a series of very unpopular IMF-inspired austerity measures, This lead to mass protests (Caracazo riots) and the deaths of hundreds of people by the army

On February 4, 1992, Chávez and the MBR-200 led a failed military coup against President Pérez, Chavez read a statement on television in order to tell his co-conspirators to stand down. He said that they had not achieved their goals por ahora (for now).After spending two years in prison, Chávez was pardoned by President Rafael Caldera. He reconstructed the MBR as a political movement called the Movement for the Fifth Republic (Movimiento Quinta República,or MVR)

Chávez justified the coup by citing the evident discontentment of the majority of the population in the economic measures adopted by Pérez. The Pérez regime never recovered from the aftermath of the riots.

Chávez was imprisoned but his coup was used by former President Rafael Caldera, the head of the Christian Democratic party, COPEI,to critisize the situation in Venezuela. Later Caldera and supporters removed Pérez fromthe presidency on charges of corruption in 1993.

Caldera left COPEI, to form a new political party, Convergencia, which,in a coalition of many small leftist parties, forced Caldera to presidency in December 1993. This was a fatal blow to the traditional parties,leaderless and demoralized, got few votes .

Chávez,who was pardoned by Caldera in 1994 used a similar platform as Caldera to promote his candidacy for president of the Republic. He campaigned on a populist agenda, calling for an end to corruption and poverty. Chávez skillfully used his charisma and communication abilities to achieve what he was not able to do seven years before; becoming the president of the country peacefully

Part 2
Here is part 2 of the article

Chávez was sworn in as president on February 2, 1999.A event that got

little publicity in the rest of the world. Among his first acts was the

launching of Plan Bolivar which included road building, housing

construction, and mass vaccination. Privatization was halted , Oil

extraction reduced to increase revenues from the higher oil prices OPEC

was lobbied to do likewise. The tax system was reformed increasing its

fairness and efficiency.

In response to the stalling of his legislation in the National

Assembly, Chávez scheduled two fresh national elections for July 1999,

including a referendum for and elections to fill a new constitutional

assembly. The Constitutional Assembly was created when the referendum

passed with a 71.78% yes vote, while the pro-Chávez Polo Patriotico

(Patriotic Pole) won 95% (120 out of the total 131) of its seats.

In August 1999, the Constitutional Assembly's Judicial Emergency

Committee declared a legislative emergency whereby a seven-member

committee conducted the National Assembly's functions

The Constitutional Assembly drafted the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution,

In December 1999, the new constitution was approved in a nationwide

election with a 71.78% yes vote.

Elections for the new unicameral National Assembly took place on July

30, 2000. Chávez himself stood for reelection. Chávez's coalition won a

two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, while Chávez was

reelected with 60% of the votes.

On December 3, 2000, a referendum (backed by Chávez but condemned by

international labor organizations[21]) were held. The referendum which

passed, forced trade unions to hold state-monitored elections.

After the mid-2000 elections, Chávez backed passage of controversial

measure the Enabling Act, which allowed him to rule by decree for one

year. In November 2001, he used it to enact 49 decrees, including the

Hydrocarbons Law to reform the oil industry and land reform and

redistribution measures.

The Fedecámaras business federation, began a general strike on December

10, 2001; this failed to influence Chávez, allowing him to enact

policies such as a government-funded free healthcare system and

education up to university level. The Private media became increasing

critical of the government

By late 2001, Chávez policies began to benefit Venezuela, inflation

dropped from 40% to 12%, economic growth increased, primary school

enrollment increased by one million.

The media increased its campaign against Chávez. While previous

governments in Venezuela had censored the media Chávez allowed not

only legitimate criticism, but also what would be considered slander in

most other countries.

By April 2002presenters on the private TV stations were calling for

Chávez to leave resign or be removed. Yet still no action was taken
againsted them even when army offices appeared on TV threatening to

overthrow the government.

Chavez was aware of this and tried to counteract the private media

propaganda through the use of the state TV channel 8. He had a program

Alo, Presidente where the public could phone him a about their

problems. However the mass media( radio, TV, newspapers) was dominated

by anti-Chavez elements

On April 11 the Anti-Chávez opposition (opposition parties, Fedecámaras

business federation and the trade union CTV ) organized a mass

demonstration They were supported by the private TV Stations

broadcasting continuous anti government propaganda. Soon hundreds of

thousands of people were gathered outside the (PDVSA State Oil Company)


They didnt know that they were to be part of a sinister plan

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