Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías [ ˈuɣo rafaˈel ˈtʃaßes ˈfɾias ] (born July 28, 1954 in Sabaneta , † March 5, 2013 in Caracas ) was a Venezuelan officer and politician . From 1999 until his death in 2013 he was the 62nd President of Venezuela .
With his program, Chávez referred to his role model Simón Bolívar and his commitment to a united South America. The former lieutenant colonel founded the underground movement Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 in the early 1980s . After a failed coup attempt that made him known nationwide, Chavez spent two years in prison. He founded the Movimiento Quinta República party and won the 1998 presidential election. He was re-elected three times in a row in the 2000, 2006 and 2012 elections.
Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution incorporated socialist and Marxist ideas and, after the nationalization of key industries, used Venezuela's oil wealth to finance his idea of “socialism of the 21st century” in social policy and clientele policy .
Chávez's person, his politics, his leadership style and his media appearances have attracted international controversy as well as significant attention and recognition among left and anti-globalization groups. Critics accused him in particular of his authoritarian approach and unsustainable economic policy and development in Venezuela. Collaboration with various dictators and militant movements and his dealings with opposition and opponents were also controversial .
Chávez was born as the son of the former village school teacher Hugo de los Reyes Chávez and his wife Elena Frías de Chávez in the western Venezuelan state of Barinas . Three brothers of Hugo Chávez are also active in politics, see section Accusation of nepotism .
Chavez was raised Catholic and was married twice. He was married to his first wife, Nancy Colmenares, for 18 years and had three children (Rosa Virginia, María Gabriela, Hugo Rafael) and two grandchildren. During this time, Chavez had a nine-year affair with the historian Herma Marksman . Herma Marksman has now also distanced himself politically from him. The marriage and the love affair fell apart after the failed coup attempt in 1992. From his second wife, the journalist Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez , Chávez was also divorced. From the second marriage he had another daughter (Rosainés).
Chávez joined the Venezuelan army at the age of 17 and attended the military academy in Caracas , which he graduated in 1975 as a subteniente (equivalent to a German lieutenant ). As a result, he had a series of operations: first in an infantry - battalion and as a paratrooper , 1978 in a with AMX-30 equipped -Panzern unit in Maracay . In 1980 he returned to the Military Academy in Caracas as a teaching officer, where he successively headed several departments, including those for sports training and those for cultural activities. He did not complete a postgraduate study in political science from 1989 to 1990 at the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas. Chavez eventually reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Venezuelan army . In 1994 he had to leave the army.
During his time at the Military Academy, Chávez and other officers founded a discussion group called Ejército Revolucionario Bolivariano (ERB-200) , which was based on the works of Simón Rodríguez , Simón Bolívar and Ezequiel Zamora and, among other things, dealt with Venezuelan military history and development employed a new military doctrine for the army. Chávez filled the name Simón Bolívar with his own ideas and intentions, regardless of whether they “fit” the historical Bolívar or not. As early as 1986, the group came to the conclusion that it was necessary to act politically and possibly also to take military action against the government.
In the second term of office of Carlos Andrés Pérez (1989-1993) there were unrest in 1989 in the big cities of the country, the so-called Caracazo . The Pérez government violently suppressed the looting; 276 people were killed, according to unconfirmed sources even up to 3000. These events are said to have led to the change from ERB-200 to MBR-200, the Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 (Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement 200). The MBR-200 was a clandestine organization that saw itself as a "civil-military" structure. It turned against military fundamentalism and sectarianism and opened up to civil groups.
As early as July 1992, Chavez, with the group MBR-200 , published a programmatic paper from the Yare prison : Ways to escape the labyrinth . It appeared as a one-sided newspaper under the title The Bolivarian Post. The symbol "MBR-200", drawn in yellow, blue and red, was used here. Marxism was the "ideological foundation". Further influences came from the books by Oscar Varsavsky and from situation-related planning by Carlos Matus.
From putschist to party leader
On February 4, 1992, Chavez led an anti-government coup by the MBR-200 . After only a few hours it became clear that the uprising had failed. Chavez surrendered with his troops in Caracas and was given a minute to speak, which was granted to him to inform his comrades of the surrender. In the 72-second speech, he took responsibility for the coup and its failure. He explained that he was putting down his arms for now ("por ahora"), that they had not achieved their goals for the time being, but that new opportunities would arise.
With the speech, an unknown soldier became a familiar face. He became a beacon of hope for neighborhoods critical of the government. That address is also interpreted as the beginning of the political campaign that brought him the 1999 presidency. The figure "paratrooper with red beret", who dominated the carnival that followed a few months later, made his popularity clear. Four months after the failed coup, Chavez's popularity ratings were 67.4% (in Caracas) and then fell to around 55% by mid-1993. After two years in prison, Chávez was pardoned along with the other officers of the 1994 coup by President Rafael Caldera .
Immediately after his release, Chavez announced that he wanted to run for the office of president and traveled to Cuba, where he was received by Fidel Castro as a state guest with all protocol honors - the visit marked the beginning of a friendship that fundamentally changed Venezuela should.
In the years up to 1996 he managed to build a stable following. The MBR-200 turned into an open collecting tank for former military and left-wing forces, and many of Chavez's early supporters had an ambivalent relationship to democracy. The political goal of the MBR-200 was to convene a constituent assembly . He declined to participate in the 1993 national elections and the 1995 regional elections. In 1996 he decided to take part in the 1998 national elections. For this purpose Chavez founded the party Movimiento V [Quinta] Republica (MVR, "Movement Fifth Republic"), which led the left coalition Polo Patriotico in the election.
First election victory and new constitution
Chavez won the presidential election on December 6, 1998 with a 56 percent share of the vote. Henrique Salas Römer received 26.82% of the vote. The two established parties Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente (COPEI) and Acción Democrática (AD) only received nine percent approval. At the same time he had succeeded in penetrating the political center. Chávez said he wanted to invite the former dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez to his inauguration, which he did not do after protests. As announced, a referendum was held in April 1999 to convene a constituent assembly. This was followed in July by the election of the delegates who, under Chavez's leadership, worked out a draft constitution on which the new “Fifth Republic” was to be based. In December 1999, the people of Venezuela approved the new Bolivarian constitution by referendum . On this basis, new elections for all electoral offices, including the presidency, were scheduled for July 2000, the so-called megaelección .
In the new elections, Chavez was able to improve his election result again with 60.3% of the vote. From the parliamentary elections that took place at the same time, Chávez 'MVR emerged as the absolute strongest force with 99 out of a total of 165 seats, and the gubernatorial elections also resulted in a majority for the MVR.
In December 2000, Chavez launched a referendum on the reorganization of the unions. The decision was based on his plan to remove all leading functionaries of the trade unions from office within six months and to let the union members re-elect their leaders. In this referendum, about two-thirds of the vote went to Chavez's motion.
As a result, the largest opposition and former ruling party in the country, the Acción Democrática, applied for impeachment, but it was rejected.
Strike and coup against Chavez in April 2002
In February 2002, Chávez replaced the management team of the state oil company PDVSA with new, government-loyal managers. A network made up of the CTV trade union federation , business associations, the Catholic Church, the previous ruling party and Venezuela's private television stations called a general strike on April 9, 2002 . The aim of the strike was Chavez's resignation. He then addressed the population between April 8 and 11 with a total of 31 speeches broadcast nationwide ( cadenas , see media policy ). On the third day of the strike, April 11, an opposition demonstration moved to the headquarters of the Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). According to Latin American journalists, 50,000 to 200,000 people took part in it, while the opposition expected up to a million participants. Carlos Ortega , chairman of the CTV union, and Pedro Carmona , chairman of the Fedecámaras employers' association , however, diverted the demonstration to the Miraflores presidential palace, where Chavez supporters had gathered. The General Staff of the Military declared its full support for Chavez in a nationally broadcast speech at 2:15 p.m. When the opposition demonstration came near the Miraflores Palace, supporters of the Palace Guard tried to keep supporters and opposition parties apart.
The situation escalated when members of the capital city police, who were then subordinate to the openly anti-Chávist mayor Alfredo Peña, shot into the crowd of Chavez supporters. A total of 19 people were killed and over 300 injured. About half of the victims were Chavez and opposition supporters. All opposition TV channels reported that Chavez supporters shot into the opposition demonstration, which the Chavez supporters denied. They suggested this - according to the Chavez supporters - also through clever cuts and a chronologically incorrect arrangement of the events in the television reporting. According to Narco News, ample evidence of the city police's involvement in the coup suggests that the ruthless police operation served in preparation for the coup. The opposition blamed Hugo Chavez for the dead of the snipers and used them to justify the subsequent coup.
On April 12th there was a coup . The General Staff of the Military, which had prepared the coup, used the dead as an opportunity to no longer recognize Chavez and on April 12, 2002, ordered his arrest. On the same day, Pedro Carmona was sworn in as transitional president. His first official act was to dissolve parliament and the Supreme Court, which met with sharp criticism both nationally and internationally. After the coup, there were numerous firefights, street battles and house searches in which another 50 to 70 people died, mainly activists from social movements in the slums.
The coup sparked mass protests among large parts of the population, in which several million people took part across the country. During their victory celebration, the guards of the presidential palace arrested the putschists. On April 13, 2002, Chavez was released from military custody and reinstated as president. The commanding general of the army, Efrain Vazquez Velasco , publicly demanded the restoration of all constitutional institutions and declared that the military had not wanted to carry out a coup. The coup president Pedro Carmona was placed under house arrest . He later managed to escape and fled to the United States via Colombia.
According to the opposition, a commission requested by relatives of the victims and the opposition to clarify the events of April 11 met with disinterest in the government and was therefore not formed.
Eight police officers involved in the operation were taken into custody, where they have been awaiting charges ever since. It is now the longest process in Venezuela's history, lasting over six years. The Chavez supporters involved in the shooting were acquitted. At least five of the generals charged with participating in the coup were acquitted by the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Prosecutor Danilo Anderson, who was investigating the coup plotters and members of the capital city police in connection with the events of April 11, 2002, was murdered in 2004 by unknown perpetrators.
Role of the USA and Spain
There is evidence that the coup plotters had regular contact with the US embassy two months before the events. According to the observer , the high-ranking US government official Otto Reich received the later coup president Pedro Carmona in the White House several months before the coup and gave him diplomatic backing during the coup. US government officials such as John Negroponte and Elliot Abrams are also said to have been informed in advance of the coup plotters' plans. The Guardian quoted a US Navy officer as saying that some of the coup plotters' radio communications had been handled by US Navy ships off the Venezuelan coast. Former US President Jimmy Carter said that the US administration under George W. Bush was undoubtedly at least fully informed about the coup.
Officials in the US denied any involvement of the US government. A review by the Office of Inspector General found no evidence of support from members of the relevant authorities in the records of the US State Department and the US Embassy in Caracas. Diplomats reported that the frequent visits by Chavez opponents to Washington or the US embassy in Caracas at the time could at least have signaled tacit tolerance.
Indications of an involvement of the Spanish government under José María Aznar were confirmed by the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos at the end of November 2004 during a visit to Chavez. Moratinos regretted that Spain under Aznar had supported the coup attempt. He described this as "an approach [...] that must not be repeated" and assured that Spain "wanted to support democracy in Latin America in the future".
On December 2, 2002, the umbrella trade union association CTV - which is closely linked to the old governments - called a general strike together with employers' associations.
In the oil industry that took the character of direct sabotage to: The Company Intesa, a joint venture of Petroleos de Venezuela and the US arms company SAIC , oil production was in charge of computer science and computer control. In particular, employees of this company succeeded in bringing Venezuela's oil production largely to a standstill by shutting down the production facilities using software commands and then damaging the control system. The economic damage caused by sabotage in oil production amounted to eight to ten billion dollars. As a result, the gross domestic product fell by 8.9 percent in 2002 and by 9.4 percent in 2003. It was not until April 2003 that all important oil production facilities could be put back into operation.
The central demand of the strikers was the resignation of the president. However, Chavez refused to resign. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs as a result. At the initiative of the new Brazilian President Lula da Silva , a group of Friends of Venezuela was formed , consisting of Brazil, Chile, Mexico , the USA, Spain and Portugal , and the former US President Jimmy Carter also intervened in the mediation between Chavez and the Opposition one. Carter made two proposals: a constitutional amendment that would have cut Chavez's term in office from six to four years, or a mid-term referendum on Chavez's presidency, which should have taken place on August 19, 2003. However, the two parties could not agree on a proposal; the opposition finally gave up the barely followed strike on February 3, 2003, after official figures indicate that over two million people demonstrated against the strike in Caracas at the end of January. According to the opposition, the number of participants was 108,000.
|Final result of referendum 2004||Number of votes||%|
In July and August 2003, the opposition gathered signatures to call for a referendum to end President Chávez's term early. The National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE) refused to accept the collected signatures. After sustained protests, CNE President Francisco Carrasquero finally announced on June 3, 2004 that of 3.4 million signatures collected by the opposition for a referendum against Chavez, 2.54 million would be recognized, giving the referendum 15,738 votes Excess will be allowed. Chavez had to face this on August 15, 2004, four days before the end of his fourth year in office. To remove Chavez from office, the opposition needed more than the 3.7 million votes that the politician received when he was re-elected for a second term in 2000 in a referendum.
According to the statements of the electoral commission, the referendum, which by Venezuelan standards showed an extraordinarily high voter turnout of around 70 percent (the closing of the polling stations was postponed twice on election day), did not lead to the government being replaced. 59.25 percent voted against Chavez's impeachment and 40.74 percent in favor.
The EU decided against sending election observers because neither opposition representatives nor OAS observers were allowed to take part in the final count. In spite of this, and contrary to the opposition's previously expressed fears about possible electoral fraud, international election observers certified that the election went smoothly. The US-American ex-President Jimmy Carter called it "an exercise in matters of democracy". The country's economic recovery was seen as a key factor in Chavez's success. As a result of the rise in the price of oil , the Venezuelan economy grew nominally by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2004, and growth of 12 to 14 percent was also expected for the second quarter. Another factor in their defeat was the internal division of the opposition.
Immediately after the results were announced, there were sometimes violent demonstrations by opposition activists in Caracas, who found the result unacceptable and continued to believe that the election was fraudulent. The protesters were attacked with weapons by Chavez supporters, killing a 62-year-old woman and injuring nine others. The perpetrators could be identified and convicted, but these convictions were annulled in 2006.
Before the referendum, Luis Tascón published the signature list of those who campaigned for the recall of Chavez on his website so that Chavez supporters could check whether they had been entered there against their will by members of the opposition. In addition, the Chavez government threatened potential signatories with job losses if they sign against the president. For example, the Minister for Health and Social Development, Róger Capella, described the signing as an act of terrorism and indicated that it was tantamount to a conspiracy against the office of President. The list is said to have been used later to check the political attitudes of applicants for new hires in the civil service, and people who are not on this list are said to have been given preferential treatment. However, according to Venezuela Analysis, it should be taken into account that there were many opposition supporters in the Venezuelan administration who had sabotaged the implementation of government decisions.
So that such a publication is not repeated, a name was no longer stored in the signature collections for the recall of various mayors and governors, but a fingerprint .
In the 2005 parliamentary elections, this method of registering voters' fingerprints was at the center of criticism from several opposition alliances. According to them, the computers violated the right to secret voting. Although the election commission announced that it would not use the criticized voting computers, five parties that made up the majority of the opposition forces in Venezuela announced their boycott of the elections. On the part of the governing parties, a joint alliance between the MVR and the other parties supporting Chavez was formed. The list candidates were drawn up under the name MVP, while the applicants for the direct mandates ran under the name Unidad de Vencedores Electorales (UVE). By occupying parliament exclusively with his own supporters and thus achieving a two-thirds majority , Chávez was given the opportunity to exert far-reaching influence on state powers , such as controlling the electoral authority Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE, in Venezuela with the constitutional status of a state power), but also over the judiciary, as well as the possibility of parliament to authorize the president and to rule by decree , for which a three-fifths majority is necessary.
2006 presidential election
According to the official final result, the candidate Hugo Chávez Frías received 62.84 percent of the votes cast. In absolute votes, this corresponds to 7,308,080 people. The leading opposition candidate Manuel Rosales was able to unite 36.90 percent of the votes cast. This quota corresponds to 4,292,466 votes. Another twelve candidates were almost meaningless.
The observers sent by the European Union spoke of a largely smooth election in accordance with national laws and international standards. The high number of participants, the peaceful atmosphere and the general acceptance of the results represented significant progress compared to the parliamentary elections in 2005.
In the official report on the EU observation mission, however, the strong institutional propaganda mainly for President and candidate Chávez as well as the unbalanced reporting in both the public and private media were criticized. There has been pressure on government employees to vote for Chávez or to participate in election campaigns for his re-election. This could be seen as a violation of the international principles of free voting as set out in Article 4 of the Declaration on Free and Fair Elections of the Inter-Parliamentary Union , of which the Venezuelan National Assembly is a member. The commission was only able to verify the truth of a few of the cases brought before it; in particular, it mentioned a speech by the energy minister, Rafael Ramírez, to workers in the state oil industry. Because of this speech, Rafael Ramírez was sentenced by the CNE in July 2007 to a fine of 18,000,000 bolívares (almost 7,000 euros).
After his re-election, Hugo Chavez declared that he wanted to deepen the Bolivarian revolution. His goal is the transformation of society in the direction of " socialism of the 21st century ". He took advice from the German social scientist Heinz Dieterich (University of Mexico City), who was still a friend at the time . To achieve this, he had announced a plethora of measures and applied for special powers of attorney from the Venezuelan National Assembly. At the same time, a new draft constitution was drafted by Chávez personally in an urgent procedure, which was supposed to change the "old" constitution of 1999 in essential points. In addition to expanding the power of the president, the draft constitutional reform provided for the replacement of the bicameral parliament by a national assembly. It was adopted by the National Assembly on November 2, 2007 with a large majority, but was rejected by 50.7 percent of the voters in the referendum on December 3, 2007. After Chavez's death, mentor Dieterich stated that the idea of “socialism of the 21st century” was never put into practice in Venezuela.
In addition to social aspects, such as the limitation of daily working hours to six instead of eight hours, the draft constitution provided for the creation of two new armed forces under the umbrella of the previous army: the "Bolivarian Territorial Guard" and the "People's Militia". The latter should report directly to the President. At the same time, a new target of the armed forces in the form of the "enemy within" should be defined, which would have made it possible to combat any dissidence . Monetary sovereignty should be transferred from the central bank to the president and the president should be able to be re-elected indefinitely. Furthermore, a reform of the ownership structure should be sought. The draft constitution identified five types that would be recognized by the state: public, direct social, indirect social, collective and mixed property. Private property, which was still guaranteed in the 1999 constitution, no longer existed. Another of the planned constitutional amendments, the lifting of the restriction to two terms of office in political offices (possibility of re-election), was accepted by 54.4 percent of the voters in a separate referendum on February 15, 2009. Despite the lost constitutional referendum, and thus explicitly against the will of the majority of the people, Chávez used his power to decree and the virtually unlimited majority of his party in parliament to pass numerous rejected constitutional articles as laws. Critics accused Chavez of having gained dictatorial power as a result. Former companions like Raúl Isaías Baduel turned away from him.
On June 22, 2007, Hugo Chávez sworn in the newly established central planning commission. It was supposed to take stock of the Venezuelan economy, bring together the various government development plans and draw up proposals for future economic development.
Hugo Chávez also announced that he would give the Consejos Comunales , associations of around 200 families in each of the city districts, more powers and make more money available to them. They formed the basis for a new administrative structure that should be less prone to corruption.
Various parties in the Chavez camp also joined forces in a United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Chavez hoped that this would give the grassroots more influence over the party structures. By June 25, 2007, 5.7 million people had registered for the PSUV.
In the parliamentary elections in 2010, the PSUV entered into an alliance with the Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV). In contrast to the 2005 election, the opposition parties took part again. Coming from several different political camps, including the Por la Democracia Social (PODEMOS) party, which had supported Chavez's policies in the previous elections, they formed the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) electoral alliance . Compared to the previous parliamentary elections, the electoral system was developed from a ratio to a majority election , in which direct mandates play a stronger role for the composition of the parliament. Already in the run-up, criticism was voiced of this change in the electoral law, which gave greater weight to the traditional strongholds of Chávez, poorly populated, rural states, and of the reorganization of the now more important electoral districts in favor of candidates from the camp of the PSUV-PCV. In addition to the two alliances, Patria Para Todos (PPT) was also able to win MPs. In the election, PSUV-PCV received 48.3%, the MUD 47.2% and the PPT 3.1% of the votes with a turnout of 66.5%. Due to the pronounced majority voting right, the distribution of seats in the Venezuelan parliament was as follows: PSUV-PCV 98 seats (59.4%), Mesa 65 seats (39.4%), PPT 2 seats (1.2%). PSUV-PCV thus clearly won the simple majority, but missed the important two-thirds and three-fifths majority.
In early March 2011, Chavez declared that he was the PSUV's candidate for the 2012 presidential election. He said he was sure that it would be a waste of time for the PSUV to hold internal elections because he would definitely win.
At the end of June 2011, while in Cuba, Chavez declared that he had cancer and had therefore undergone an operation. There had already been speculation about a possible serious illness. The opposition criticized the long stay in Cuba because they considered it unconstitutional for the president to rule the country from abroad. Chavez said he would not resign and only hand over power to his Vice President, Elías Jaua , if his skills were limited. Several surgeries and chemotherapy sessions were performed between June 2011 and July 2012.
2012 presidential election
Before the presidential election on October 7, 2012 , Chavez had announced that he was cancer-free. With a turnout of 81%, he was re-elected with 55% of the votes cast, his challenger Henrique Capriles , who had previously managed to unite the divided bourgeois and right-wing opposition, got 44.3%. In absolute terms, Chavez received 1.6 million more votes than his rival and could have continued to govern until 2019, on the other hand, 2.2 million more votes went to the opposition.
More sickness and death
Chavez called out a new slogan with "We will win and live". Since 2007 he had used the phrase “socialism, fatherland or death”. Chavez said he would not resign and only hand over power to his Vice President, Elías Jaua , if his skills were limited.
On December 8, 2012, Chavez announced that he had cancer again and would immediately undergo an operation in Cuba. He determined his deputy Nicolás Maduro as a possible successor should he be "incapacitated" in any way. Chavez called on his supporters to vote for Vice President Nicolás Maduro if he - Chavez - could no longer exercise his office.
On January 3, 2013, it was announced that Chavez's condition had worsened after a fourth operation. According to Venezuela's Information Minister Ernesto Villegas, he suffered from dyspnoea as a result of severe pneumonia , which required "the most severe medical treatment". Due to his illness, he was unable to appear in parliament on January 10, 2013, to take the oath of office after his re-election, as provided for by the constitution. A swearing-in was planned for the next few weeks or months. The delay in the swearing-in led to calls for new elections from the opposition.
In mid-February 2013, Chavez returned from Cuba to Venezuela, where he underwent further medical treatment. He still had a respiratory disease.
According to American documents that became known at Wikileaks , his medical team, consisting of Russian and Cuban doctors, was deeply divided. Chavez also sought a healer who worked according to traditional Chinese medicine . The Russians would have called this horse manure treatment . Chavez also canceled treatments several times, including chemotherapy, to make public appearances.
According to Vice President Nicolás Maduro, Chávez succumbed to cancer on March 5, 2013 at 4:25 p.m. local time at the age of 58 after his health had deteriorated in the weeks before his death.
In several countries in Latin America (including Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba), but also in Belarus , several days of state mourning were declared ; in Venezuela, after an extension, it lasted a total of two weeks.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff praised Chávez as “a great leader and, above all, a friend of Brazil”, as “a great Latin American” whose death was “an irretrievable loss”. El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes described Chávez as "a patriot, a transformative thought and action man who ruled for his people and changed the reality of the inequality and exclusion from which they suffered". The Chilean President Sebastián Piñera praised the "strength and commitment with which President Chávez fought for his ideas".
At the memorial service in Caracas on March 8th, numerous heads of state, especially from Latin American countries, took part. Chavez was first laid out in the Fuerte Tiuna Military Academy before he can be seen embalmed in a glass coffin in the former Museum of Military History, which is to be converted into the Museum of the Bolivarian Revolution . During his lifetime, Chavez himself described the display of corpses as “macabre and a sign of moral decay” in connection with the planned and later banned exhibition “Bodies Revealed” in 2009. Before his death, Chávez had a mausoleum built for Bolívar and around 100 personalities from Venezuelan history. The mausoleum is as tall as a 17-story house and is said to have cost over $ 100 million; it could become his final resting place when completed.
According to the German political scientist Friedrich Welsch , professor emeritus at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, the goal of the Bolivarian Revolution initiated by Chávez essentially consists of “smashing bourgeois-democratic culture, defeating imperialism through a new alliance structure the building of Bolivarian socialism through people's communes as starting cells of the new society and the new socialist state ”. The first intention is to abolish the separation of powers . Although this is expressly included in the Bolivarian constitution passed in 1999, it never became a political reality. The people delegate the power emanating from them directly to the mandate holder as an "unmediated expression of the participation of the people". The usual means of control and protest in conventional democratic societies are thus unnecessary. Pre-existing pro-Chavist grassroots organizations such as the Bolivarian circles no longer played a role and disappeared into oblivion. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) declared that "our commander Hugo Chávez" and the revolutionary people are identical. According to Welsch, under Chavez, Venezuela developed into a militaristic leadership state . Elections are only a necessary evil to maintain the democratic appearance as long as opposition organizations still exist. In fact, according to Welsch, the elections are organized through unfair procedural rules in such a way that a change of power can almost be ruled out.
In a book published in 2011, Javier Corrales and Michael Penfold described Chávez's politics as one of the most radical and surprising modern political upheavals in Latin America today. The previous governments, including Carlos Andrés Pérez, a prominent member of the Socialist International as head of government, accused the authors of failure of the elite, a lack of checks and balances and an increasingly centralized distribution of power, which Chávez used for his rise and for a clientylistic policy. He had thus succeeded in transforming a weak but pluralistic democracy into a quasi-authoritarian regime tailored to his needs. This is based on the oil revenues, which subsequently increased again at times, and broad public approval.
Political scientist Raul Zelik is of the opinion that Chávez - despite public statements to the contrary by the Venezuelan government - chose the Cuban model as a model, even though, in the opinion of benevolent observers, Cuba is apparently unable to provide the most elementary basic needs was to satisfy the wishes of the population, the production sector was functioning reasonably or not at all and its political system was organized in a completely authoritarian manner .
Relationship to the opposition
Chávez, who had been president since 1998, had to contend with a very strong opposition, which included social power groups such as employers' associations, some trade unions, left parties such as Causa R and Bandera Roja as well as almost all the mass media and the churches. Chavez, on the other hand, stood for significant parts of the military and the population. Raul Zelik compared Chávez's situation with the government of Salvador Allende in 1972 and quoted the Italian publicist Rossana Rossanda as saying that "her biggest problem is that she is in government but not in power". Since the referendum in 2004 at the latest, however, Chávez's position has been considered consolidated. The continued internal weakness of the opposition in particular contributed to this.
Chávez 'founding parties replaced the social democratic Acción Democrática and the Christian-Democratic Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente (COPEI), which had determined Venezuelan politics for decades. The electoral victory of Chavez 'movement in 1998 thus meant their expulsion from the government, although the ownership structure has so far remained largely unaffected. In particular, in the state-dominated companies and within the administration, Chávez pushed through an extensive change in personnel. However, the opposition had widespread influence in the media, which was particularly evident in 2002.
Chavez has long called his opponents escuálidos , the "emaciated". This name has already become common among the Chavez supporters. Since Chávez took office, the opposition alliance tried in various ways to overthrow Chávez, by impeachment proceedings in 2000, by a coup in 2002, two general strikes in 2002 and 2003 and by a referendum on impeachment in 2004. In return, Chavez tried many times to weaken the alliance and And did not shy away from drastic measures. For example, he had a referendum carried out on the personnel reorganization of the trade unions or defended himself against an anti-Chavez campaign by the private, conservative television stations with a law that obliged the media to be “truthful”. The government and grassroots organizations are also given minimum broadcasting times. Chávez called the oppositional governor Henrique Capriles "playing card of the [US] empire" and "fascist".
Several leaders in the opposition were persecuted , mainly on charges of corruption . Manuel Rosales , Mayor of Maracaibo and opponent of Chávez in the 2006 presidential election, went into hiding after an arrest warrant at the end of March 2009 and was granted political asylum in Peru . Raúl Baduel , an army general who commanded the units that enabled Chávez to return to the presidency during the 2002 coup, and later defense minister, was arrested on April 2, 2009 by members of the military intelligence service . Baduel was a sharp critic of the planned constitutional changes, which were then narrowly rejected in a referendum in 2007. Leopoldo López , also acted as a challenger for the 2012 presidential elections, has been charged several times.
Conversely, relatives of the president held high-ranking positions in government and business. Adán Chávez was Minister of Education from January 2007 to April 2008, and his cousin Asdrubal Chávez was promoted to Vice President of the Refining, Trade and Distribution Division of the state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela in 2007 . Especially in his home province of Barinas , where his father Hugo Chávez sr. was elected governor, other family members were elected or appointed to offices. Chavez came into conflict with members of his family.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch complained that opposition politicians, journalists and human rights defenders under Hugo Chavez were regularly "harassed, threatened, intimidated and charged with flimsy grounds".
Chavez and election debates
Hugo Chavez has refused to accept debates in the form of televised duels since taking office. So he declined to have a debate with the opposition candidate in 2006. He also declined to have a debate against Henrique Capriles because, in his opinion, Capriles was "nothing".
Education and social policy
After Hugo Chávez's election victory, the government initiated numerous Bolivarian missions : social programs that were aimed particularly at the poorest sections of the population. Most of them work in the informal sector and make up well over 50 percent of the total population. The social programs are called Misiones in Venezuela .
- Plan Bolívar 2000 for the distribution of food to the population was started in 2000.
- As part of the Misión Barrio Adentro , free health care was set up with the help of Cuban doctors in the slum areas .
- The Misión Robinson began in 2003 and enabled adults previously illiterate to learn to read and write for free. They can then - also free of charge - catch up on primary and secondary education and start university.
- The Misión Sucre plans to set up a new decentralized Bolivarian university system . The highly practice-oriented courses set up here are accessible to all persons with a university entrance qualification and are free of charge. Students receive scholarships.
- As part of the Misión Alma Mater , a total of 50 new universities are to be set up in Venezuela, in the first phase up to 2012 alone 28.
- The Misión Mercal is building a network of supermarkets, where cheap basic foodstuffs are made available to the population.
According to various precursors, the Misiones were brought into being in their current form after the two-month business strike from 2002 to 2003. They should achieve the greatest possible effect within a very short time and rely on an existing social organization in the poor areas. For this purpose the ministries, which were then rather ineffective and dominated by supporters of the opposition, were circumvented and the funds were made available to the PDVSA from income . In the following years, funds were allocated more through the state budget.
In the opinion of the economist and administrative scientist Michael Penfold-Becerra who teaches in Caracas, the Misiones , which represent the largest social program in the region with budgets between one and two billion euros, only served the purpose of distributing the oil revenues to the population groups with the lowest incomes to buy votes in the sense of a classic clientele policy . The Neue Zürcher Zeitung came to a similar conclusion in its obituary for Chavez: “First and foremost, Chavez expanded the traditional clientele economy in Venezuela from the middle class to the lower class. His missions brought alms for the general public - but hardly anything beyond that. "
At the beginning, economic policy was strongly based on ideas of import substitution , which was also advocated by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) in the 1950s and 1960s . The economy should be diversified. This strategy meant a break with a neoliberal economic policy that was applied under the conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the national bankruptcy in the 1980s and 1990s. After the 2006 elections, however, Chavez returned to the center of its economic model, which basically found its expression in nationalization.
In 2003, the Venezuelan central bank introduced fixed exchange rates and exchange controls to curb the capital flight, which had expanded significantly since Chavez took office.
The Chavez government stopped the planned privatization of the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela . President Chavez also campaigned for a revitalization of OPEC .
From 1999 to 2012, a total of 1,440 companies from a wide range of economic sectors ( energy , finance , wholesale and foreign trade , food , tourism and construction ) were nationalized. The compensation paid to the previous owners of the company has been assessed by observers as “fair” or “in line with the market”, although in some cases it was difficult to reach an agreement on compensation payments and not infrequently ended up in court. The government apparently wanted to compensate for lost capacities through imports.
The government also encouraged the establishment of cooperatives and other associations in the case of companies that have been shut down or bankrupt. These cooperatives are provided with microcredits , the government bought their products such as school or military uniforms or sold them through the Misión Mercal . The cooperatives were therefore dependent on government buyers. The members of agricultural cooperatives were able to be trained in organic farming as part of the Misión Che Guevara .
In August 2011, Chavez announced that Venezuela's gold reserves of US $ 11 billion, which were stored in various banks in Europe and the USA, would be brought back into the country. "How can we keep the Venezuelan gold in London when NATO can say at any time that the gold is theirs," said Chavez, explaining his decision. In addition, it is currently very unreliable to keep the gold in the European and American banks threatened with bankruptcy. In September of the same year, he also nationalized the country's gold industry. The law stipulates that "all gold obtained on national territory as a result of mining activities [...] must be sold and delivered to the Republic of Venezuela".
In 2006 Chavez said: "The socialism we are starting to build is different, it is based on solidarity, so it is socialism (...) We have to promote barter: the market can be reactivated by bartering and not by currency", why the BBC correspondent in 2019 said that this one goal of the revolution had been achieved with the self-dissolution of the Venezuelan currency .
The Gini coefficient , which measures the distribution of social wealth , has fallen from 0.5 in 2002 to 0.39 in 2009, which means a more even distribution among all residents. (For comparison: The Gini coefficients for income distribution are more than 0.5 for most Latin American countries, while they are around 0.3 for Western European countries.). In the following years of Maduro's presidency, it was often commented that equality had indeed increased; all are now equally poor. In 2018 the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung spoke of a "division of society into a small, very wealthy upper class, a mixture of the new and old elites" and a desperately poor lower class.
In 2002 and 2003 there were slumps due to the businessmen's strike and sabotage of the oil production facilities, from which the Venezuelan economy recovered in 2004. From 2004 to 2008 there was high but weakening economic growth, which was due to the rise in oil prices, but which, according to the government, was also the result of the new economic policy. This would have been supported by the fact that from 2004 growth in the private sector was stronger than in the state sector. This was attributed to high domestic demand and an increase in public investment. Other economists such as Hans-Jürgen Burchardt attribute economic growth almost exclusively to the increased oil price.
In 2009 the gross national product shrank by 2.9 percent, in 2010 by a further 1.9 percent with an inflation rate of 27 percent. The main cause was initially held to be the collapse in the oil price at the end of 2008 as a result of the financial crisis from 2007 onwards. In 2009, however, there were notorious supply shortages despite the still high oil price and even with a breakthrough of the 100 dollar mark. After the beginning of 2010, the Venezuelan currency, the bolívar, was also devalued in 2011. An electricity crisis contributed to the sharp decline in economic activity in the first half of 2010, necessitating production stoppages in heavy industry. Even then, reference was made to Chavez's responsibility for the decline of the infrastructure. At the Planta Centro gas power plant in the state of Carabobo, the repair of the turbines took longer than the construction of the power plant itself, the previously exemplary power grid had come down to the level of a developing country under Chávez, and regular power outages were a serious problem as early as 2010. The officially invested 35 billion euros had not been used properly.
Despite the economic crisis, social spending was maintained, so that poverty and absolute poverty in Venezuela continued to decline. Unemployment increased from 6.8% at the end of 2008 to 8.4% in mid-2010. Venezuela's total indebtedness was 18.4% of GDP, far lower than that of Germany (over 60%) and the USA (over 100%). From 1999 (when Chávez came to power) to 2011, external debts rose by 70% and domestic debt by 1000%.
Supporters of Chavez also occasionally criticize that the measures in the area of economic and social policy are too hesitant and stick to the symbolic. There would also be corruption and nepotism, especially in the currency control system, which offered enormous opportunities for enrichment.
In the years 2007–2009 there were temporary bottlenecks in the supply of food in Venezuela, including in the state-owned Mercal stores. Inflation rose, and food in particular had become more expensive. The opposition, including the employers' association Fedecamaras, complained that the economic problems were caused by foreign exchange controls, price controls for food and the Chavistic expansion of the welfare state and that they had also created a shadow economy.
In spite of Chavez's assertions, the dependence on oil could by no means be eliminated, on the contrary. Production fell in many areas. Chavez's policies have also been blamed for a significant deterioration in productivity and a lack of new investment and technical innovation at the state-owned oil company PDVSA. Even Chavez-friendly economists like Mark Weisbrot accuse him of failure in economic policy and a lack of diversification of the economy from the oil business.
According to the Media Act of 2005, each channel must provide 70 minutes of broadcast time per week (maximum 15 minutes per day) in which the state can provide information about its projects and goals. These transmissions must not be changed in any way, neither in the quality of the audio / video signal nor in the message itself.
In addition to the closure of 34 media outlets on August 1, 2009, the media are also coming under pressure due to simultaneous plans that provide for a drastic tightening of the media law. Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz submitted a bill to the National Assembly, which would threaten journalists and publishers with prison terms of between two and four years if they spread “public panic” or “endanger the security of the nation”.
According to Reporters Without Borders' worldwide ranking of press freedom , Venezuela ranks 117th out of 179 places.
In Venezuela, most of the mass media are still in private hands. Until 2004, the four television channels Venevisión , RCTV , Televen and Globovisión , which together had a reach of over 90 percent, exclusively supported the bourgeois opposition to President Chavez. Chavez supporters therefore also call them Golpevision (putsch television). Venevisión belongs to the Venezuelan multi-billionaire Gustavo Cisneros , RCTV Marcel Granier . Both entrepreneurs have decidedly conservative political attitudes, which was also expressed on their respective television channels. For years, the private, government-critical television stations in Venezuela have been restricted in their freedom of the press by the government. On the one hand, the President often made use of the so-called cadenas, especially during the election campaign, by means of which he could give speeches lasting several hours, which had to be transmitted by all terrestrial radio stations. On the other hand, RCTV, Globovisión and other private television stations became the target of rigid political and financial pressure, which has led to intimidation or bankruptcy of these stations. Venevisión has therefore become less critical since 2004, and RCTV can no longer be reached in the terrestrial VHF band. Globovisión can only be seen outside of Caracas and Valencia by cable or internet. Less than a third of the population has this option.
With the exception of Últimas Noticias , the highest-circulation newspaper , most of the country's larger newspapers such as El Impulso , El Mundo , El Nacional , El Nuevo Pais , El Universal and Tal Cual are oppositional. These media played an important role in the coup against Chavez in 2002. Contrary to the truth, they claimed that government supporters had shot at participants in an opposition demonstration, broadcast the call for a coup by opposition General Nestor Gonzalez Gonzalez and justified the coup. The opposition media did not report on the strong counter-demonstrations that ultimately led to the failure of the coup. This was all the more serious since the few pro-government media outlets had been shut down by the putschists.
During the general strike in December 2002, the opposition media gave the impression that the strike was being largely obeyed. The broadcaster Globovisión tried to prove this with pictures of an empty city motorway. However, these pictures were taken in the early morning. At other times of the day the streets were full as usual.
The government initially tried to promote the basic media, some of which had already been created. There are now more than 500 base radios and more than twelve local television stations. These had been fought as pirate stations by the previous government . They now have the opportunity to register and send legally. Most of the content on these stations is produced by laypeople who learned filmmaking and editing in workshops. They report on everyday life and the social struggles in the slums of the big cities - topics that do not appear on the private broadcasters. These media support President Chavez in principle, but maintain their independence and are not afraid to criticize certain measures or officials of the government.
In addition to the already existing state channel Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), which has only a limited range and was only sparsely financed by the previous governments, the government invested considerable funds in the cultural channel ViVe, founded in 2003, and also initiated the establishment of the multi-state, South American one Information channel teleSUR and the channel Alba TV , which was created in cooperation with numerous social organizations in South America .
VTV, ViVe, Globovisión and teleSUR have been broadcast for South America for some time via the NSS 806 satellite at 40.5 ° West in the C-band and can also be received in Germany with 180 cm dishes.
Since 1999 (the first year of his presidency), Chávez had his own television program Aló Presidente . It was mostly on Sundays from changing places such as B. Inland cooperatives broadcast by state broadcasters. Aló Presidente takes several hours and the duration of the broadcast varies greatly. Hugo Chávez gave speeches , made announcements and encouraged viewers to phone calls during the broadcast to bring him problems that he passed on for processing or solved while the broadcast was still on.
Hugo Chávez often addressed the Venezuelan public directly with televised addresses. All television stations were then obliged to form a cadena ("chain") and broadcast the address nationwide simultaneously and in full. In 2001, 7018 minutes of cadenas with Chávez's speeches were broadcast, in 2002 4407 minutes.
Conflicts since 2007
RCTV 2007 license not renewed
In December 2006, President Chavez announced that he would not renew the terrestrial broadcasting license for RCTV , which expired on May 27, 2007. Government officials justified this decision by citing the station's involvement in the 2002 coup against Chavez and the fact that the station did not comply with the law.
On March 29, 2007, Communications Minister Jesse Chacón said that the new public television channel TVes would take over the terrestrial broadcasting frequencies in question. RCTV ended its terrestrial broadcasting operations on May 28, 2007 at 00:03 with the national anthem, TVes began operations immediately afterwards with the national anthem.
On April 26, 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) brought the case to the OAS Human Rights Court because it did not see the Venezuelan state guaranteed the minimum working conditions for workers and journalists at the station. Chávez said he would resign from the OAS if the Venezuela court found guilty in this matter. In a joint declaration, all ALBA members, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua, supported the Venezuelan government's action in this case.
The executive director of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch , Miguel Vivanco, condemned the non-renewal of the license as a "case of censorship ". Reporters Without Borders described the non-renewal of the license of RCTV as the closure of the station and the partial expropriation of the broadcasting equipment as not complying with Venezuelan laws, in a statement on the station teleSUR this was vigorously contradicted and the ROG report was accused of 39 points of unfair reporting. Amnesty International saw the human right to freedom of expression in Venezuela at risk. The RCTV incident was only the last in a series of incidents that would undermine the right to freedom of expression.
Closure of over 30 channels in 2009
On August 1, 2009, Diosdado Cabello , head of the national telecommunications authority Conatel, announced the closure of 32 private radio and two television channels because they had failed to comply with a June request to submit their broadcasting permits as part of a license review. Therefore, as a consequence of continued illegal operation, they would be closed in the form of missing or misused licenses. Subsequently, Cabello announced the review of the other 206 radio stations. Nelson Belfort, president of the Venezuelan chamber of radio stations, described the move as an attack on freedom of expression. Chavez explained: "We have won back a number of stations that were outside the law and that now belong to the people and no longer the bourgeoisie."
The Chavez government is critical of the expansion of intellectual property : a proposed new copyright law would significantly restrict the rights of exploiters and strengthen consumer rights. The patenting of software, living beings and genetic structures is not possible in Venezuela. The computers used by government agencies and state-owned companies are to be converted to Linux . The development and adaptation of free software is funded by the state.
Relationship to various religious communities
In addition to resorting to Bolívar, Chávez also appropriated aspects of Catholic popular piety such as the María Lionza cult and the Santería for his political activities. He also emphasized aspects of Catholic social teaching and held back on more contentious subjects. The very restrictive Venezuelan abortion law has not been modified to date (2011). There were disputes with some leading officials of the Catholic clergy and some evangelical groups that are also popular in Venezuela.
For example, the retired Curia Cardinal Rosalio Lara, together with the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference, caused considerable resentment between the Venezuelan Church and the government in early 2006. On the occasion of a pilgrimage, he criticized the fact that Venezuela persecuted dissenters and that Chavez's leadership style was undemocratic. In addition, the cardinal lamented "signs of dictatorship " and an unacceptable human rights situation . Chavez then spoke of a "co-conspiracy" of the Church and demanded an apology. He insulted the cardinal as "hypocrites, bandits and devils in cassocks ". The partisanship of Cardinal Antonio Ignacio Velasco García and other high dignitaries during the coup against Chavez in 2002 also caused displeasure .
In 2005, Chavez expelled the evangelical mission society New Tribes Mission , which was active in the indigenous communities in the south of the country. He accused her of "colonialism" and "imperialist infiltration" (ties to the CIA). In parliamentary reports, among other things, the New Tribes Mission had previously been accused of espionage and forced conversions. At the same time he gave 6,800 square kilometers of land to the indigenous people of Venezuela. Chavez said he was leading a revolution for the poor and defending the rights of the country's indigenous people was a priority.
Chávez was closely connected to the Peronist political scientist, anti-Semite and Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole , who had already advised him during his detention and was therefore expelled in 1995. The temporary reappearance of Ceresoles after the 1998 election and a concurrent book Ceresoles in honor of Chávez with the title Caudillo, Ejército, Pueblo: la Venezuela del Comandante Chávez (Leader, Army, People: Commander Chávez's Venezuela) met with great success as early as 1999 public concern and unease in Venezuela. Chavez's government then distanced itself from Ceresole, who left the country shortly afterwards.
The Jewish community in Venezuela shrank from 16,000 to 12,000 since Chávez took office in 1998 by the end of 2007 and attributes this largely to the deterioration in relations in connection with the failed referendum in 2007.
In his Christmas address from 2005, Chavez said:
«El mundo tiene para todos, pues, pero resulta que unas minorías, los descendientes de los mismos que crucificaron a Cristo, los descendientes de los mismos que echaron a Bolívar de aquí y también lo crucificaron a su manera en Santa Marta, allá en Colombia . Una minoría se adueñó de las riquezas del mundo, una minoría se adueñó del oro del planeta, de la plata, de los minerales, de las aguas, de las tierras buenas, del petróleo, de las riquezas, pues, y han concentrado las riquezas en pocas manos: menos del diez por ciento de la población del mundo es dueña de más de la mitad de la riqueza de todo el mundo ya la… »
“The world has enough for everyone, but it turns out that some minorities, the descendants of those who crucified Christ, the descendants of those who drove Bolívar from here and otherwise crucified him in Santa Marta, there in Colombia. A minority has seized the riches of the world. A minority have seized gold, silver, minerals, water, good land, oil, riches and they have all riches in the hands of a few: less than 10% of the world's population owns more than half of the wealth the earth…"
This led to an exchange between the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles , which condemned the statements as anti-Semitic and demanded an apology, and Chavez, who replied that he was anti-liberal and anti-imperialist, but never anti-Semitic, and the CAIV, the association of the Israelite communities of Venezuela. The CAIV initially tried to mediate and was supported by the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress .
However, after Raúl Baduel's imprisonment, the CAIV no longer had a contact person; on the contrary, various theories about an American-Zionist conspiracy were circulating in the country. Simon Sultan, head of the Hebraica Center in Caracas, spoke in 2007 of the country's first anti-Jewish government. The 2008 appointment of 38-year-old Tareck El Aissami , a former left-wing extremist student leader and son of a representative of Iraq's Baʿth party in Venezuela, as interior minister did nothing to build confidence.
In September 2010, a CAIV delegation led by Salomón Cohen Botbol met with President Chávez. Botbol handed Chávez a dossier with examples of anti-Semitic statements in the state media and raised concerns about the possible consequences. Chavez promised to improve security for Jewish institutions. The meeting was requested after a synagogue was looted and an explosive device detonated at the Jewish community center in Caracas in spring 2009. Eight police officers were among the 11 people arrested in connection with this. On July 22, 2011, three former police officers from the Metropolitan Police (Policia Metropolitana) and three civilians were convicted of attacking the synagogue. The court ruled out a political background and found that at least one security guard had let the intruders into the church. The gang tried to disguise the robbery as a political act by desecrating the synagogue.
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)
Politics in Venezuela was traditionally clientelistic . In the opinion of many grassroots Bolivarian activists, this has not changed much for the parties that support Chavez. For example, the candidates for the Chavez camp in the 2004 regional elections, the national assembly elections and the 2005 local elections were drawn up after negotiations between the parties and not from the grassroots, as Chavez had promised. Many of the candidates enjoyed little popular trust, which meant that voter turnout was low. With the establishment of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) the participation of the base is to be expanded.
Since 2004, Chávez has increasingly sought alliance with like-minded Latin American leaders. In 2012, the ALBA project as an alternative to the US-dominated American Free Trade Area included Antigua and Barbuda , Bolivia , Dominica , Ecuador , Cuba , Nicaragua , St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela .
Chávez's interference in Peru's election campaign in 2006 - he had insulted Alan García as a “shameless thief” and supported his challenger Ollanta Humala - led to diplomatic resentment. Before the 2006 presidential election in Nicaragua , he publicly supported the Sandinistas and their candidate Daniel Ortega .
Chávez's support for the FARC-EP led to diplomatic tensions between Venezuela and Peru and Venezuela and Colombia.
In 2010 there were reports that a Swedish weapons manufacturer's rocket launchers destined for Venezuela had fallen into the hands of FARC fighters. Sweden requested an explanation for the breach of the sales contract. Venezuela's interior minister denied government involvement.
As a result of the financial crisis that began in 2007 and the resulting, at times sharp drop in oil prices, Venezuela slid into a severe recession , from which the country was the only large Latin American economy not to emerge by the end of 2010. As a result, the Chavist political and economic model has clearly lost its role model function in the Latin American countries. Chavez also increasingly lacked the resources to continue his checkbook diplomacy .
In February 2010, a Spanish judge suspected the Venezuelan government of collaborating with the Basque separatist organization ETA . Chavez denied the allegations.
Chavez defended the Lukashenko government more than once. The Venezuelan President himself awarded Lukashenko the Orden de Libertador, the highest honor in Venezuela. In 2007 the Venezuelan government commissioned the Belarusian company Belzarubezhstroi with the construction of 5,000 residential units including the associated infrastructure in Venezuela. There was initially an advance payment of 90 million dollars. Venezuela has been trying to sell oil to Belarus for several years. Because of the difficulties of transporting it from Venezuela to Belarus, it is mainly a matter of swap transactions, in which a company delivers Venezuelan oil to the USA and Belarus gets oil from Azerbaijan . Chavez has promised Lukashenko to supply Belarus with oil for 200 years .
The USA currently gets around 15 percent of its oil from Venezuela. Chavez had repeatedly threatened that in the event of an invasion or blockade, he would suspend oil supplies to the United States. Some observers see the US threat to Venezuela postulated by Chavez as an instrument of domestic political opinion-making. In addition, statements such as those made by the right-wing television preacher Pat Robertson , who had called for Chavez to be assassinated, resulted in considerable diplomatic involvement.
Since then, the USA has supported the opposition parties both materially and organizationally, but clearly rejects further allegations. However, arms deliveries to Venezuela have been canceled or prevented.
At the summit meeting of the Organization of American States in April 2009, Chavez met for the first time with Bush's successor, Barack Obama , at which the two demonstratively shook hands on several occasions. Both sides emphasized the need to improve relations. In September 2009, however, Chávez announced an upgrade of the Venezuelan armed forces in the form of 92 Russian tanks as well as missile defense systems and rocket launchers, which was financed with a Russian loan of 1.5 billion euros. Chavez justified this with Colombia's decision to allow US troops access to seven military bases.
The Chavez government forged close ties with Iran . According to Chávez, the two countries, which ranked fourth and eighth in the ranking of the oil exporting countries and are both members of OPEC, had the common goal of protecting the price of their common, most important product against the influence of the USA undermined the influence of the OPEC oil cartel. In September 2006, 29 cooperation agreements between Venezuela and Iran were also concluded, particularly in the economic and energy sectors.
In 2006, Chavez commented positively on the controversial Iranian nuclear program and emphasized Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. In 2005 Venezuela was the only country to oppose a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA) accusing Iran of violating the agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Chavez described the controversial Iranian presidential elections in 2009 as a triumph for his Iranian counterpart Mahmud Ahmadinejad and demanded respect for him. “Ahmadinejad's triumph was a triumph across the board. They are trying to tarnish Ahmadinejad's victory, thereby weakening the government and the Islamic Revolution . I am certain that they will not win. "
The fact that Chávez repeatedly expressed his solidarity with Iranian President Ahmadinejad against the background of the dispute with the US government and praised him was criticized by several media because of Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic statements and his denial of the Holocaust .
Middle East conflict
During the Lebanon War in July 2006, Hugo Chávez said on a visit to the emirate of Qatar about the Israeli military operations in the south of Lebanon: “Israel is doing the same acts on the Lebanese as Hitler did on the Jews - the murder of children and hundreds of innocent civilians . ”At the same time, he condemned the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah , which was believed to have triggered the offensive. On the occasion of the Israeli military attack in the Gaza Strip in 2008/2009 (" Operation Cast Lead ") , Chávez expelled the Israeli ambassador from the country. He described the operation as a "Holocaust against the Palestinian people". On the other hand, in a televised address in November 2009, he described the terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez imprisoned in France as a revolutionary fighter for the Palestinian cause.
In the course of his "alliance against US-American imperialism", Chávez also made contacts with Vietnam , Syria and, up to 2011, with Libya . Al-Gaddafi awarded Chávez the International Gaddafi Prize for Human Rights in 2004. Chávez again presented al-Gaddafi with the Libertador Sword as an award and declared that al-Gaddafi was the Simón Bolívar of Africa. The Venezuelan had expressed his support for the Libyan president several times. On March 5, 2009, Mohammed Gaddafi, son of Muammar al-Gaddafi , opened the "Hugo Chávez Stadium" in Benghazi . In March 2011 it was renamed by the insurgents. After al-Gaddafi was killed in October 2011, Chavez declared that the Libyan dictator died like a martyr.
Chavez has also repeatedly defended the Syrian government. He said the riots in Syria were organized by the US. In April 2011, he declared that terrorists were responsible for the protests in the Syrian city of Darʿā .
Chavez was a very polarizing personality. In Latin America he was seen by many as an undogmatic modernizer of leftist ideas. It was rejected just as violently by its opponents as it was celebrated by its supporters. Chavez has been portrayed as a political innovator in films such as South of the Border .
This contradicting perception was also found internationally: Michael Lingenthal, for example, country representative of the CDU- affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Venezuela, entitled a report in May 2003 "A country on the edge - Venezuela in the stranglehold of its president". The Peruvian writer and former center-right alliance presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa said of Chavez that he was promoting anti-democratic, populist and authoritarian tendencies in Latin America with a torrent of oil dollars. In contrast, Chavez's policy enjoys some support from parts of the western left, understood as a counter-concept to neoliberalism . The president's Twitter account was maintained by 200 employees and systematically used by Chavez to interact with his supporters and compatriots.
The political scientist and writer Raul Zelik attempted to explain the Chávez phenomenon : As a result of neoliberal politics in the 1980s and 1990s and the Caracazo , there was a massive loss of confidence in the traditional Christian and social democratic state parties, which largely collapsed . But neither left vanguard parties nor reformist left forces or non-governmental organizations could benefit from this.
Instead, there were a number of singular, unconnected revolts against the ruling order: military coups, the establishment of self-help groups and pirate stations in the slums. But they were not integrated into a party or a social transformation project.
These diverse social cracks made it possible for Hugo Chávez to win the election in 1998. “Because party-political mediation bodies are still not taken seriously by the population, the president has a central function as a symbol and projection surface, but also as a key word and political leader. Radical democratic and caudillic elements are linked in a strange way . "
Hugo Chavez had a real personality cult even during his lifetime . For example, Chavez was often referred to by his supporters and the state media in Venezuela as the comandante presidente .
After his death this took on almost religious features. At first they wanted to embalm it after the model of Lenin , Mao Tse-tung or Hồ Chí Minh and display it for eternity, but this was not possible for practical reasons, as the body was already too old for that. Later, the Venezuelan state broadcaster ViVe showed a video that showed Chávez how he arrived in heaven and was expected there by Che Guevara , Evita Peron , Simón Bolívar and other Venezuelan folk heroes. To the interim president and desired successor in the presidency, Nicolás Maduro, he appeared as a little bird during the election campaign for the presidential elections .
Since September 1, 2014, which is the Lord's Prayer ajar prayer to Hugo Chavez officially recognized by the ruling Socialist Party. It was officially announced at a party conference in Caracas.
Chávez's ideological basis is the ideas of Simón Bolívar, Simón Rodríguez and Ezequiel Zamora. In addition, by his own admission, he had come into contact with Marxist literature at an early age. Before he made his first commitment to Marxism in December 2009, he had testified for more than a decade that he was “neither a Marxist nor an anti-Marxist”. During the 1998 election campaign, he had expressed sympathy for the “Third Way” proclaimed by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton (see also: The Third Way and Schröder-Blair Paper ). For capitalism it is in a "humanistic" form. About communist ideology, “pure Marxism”, he said: “We do not say that it is no good. But we are convinced that it is not the ideology through which the Venezuelan future can be steered. ”Also in 1998, in a television interview shortly before the election date, he said that Cuba was a dictatorship and claimed that it would“ not become a commercial enterprise nor nationalize media companies. Only in May 2004 did he proclaim the “anti-imperialist character of the revolution” and in January 2005 at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre he called for a discussion of socialism, “a new socialism of the 21st century”. In December 2007 Chavez declared that he was a Trotskyist . During a visit to China the following year, he said he was a Maoist . Since December 2009, however, Chavez has been calling himself a Marxist and reiterated this position in 2010 before the National Assembly. Hugo Chávez was a great admirer of the Cuban revolution and was ready to finance the island "to a large extent from his role model Fidel Castro". Venezuela, for its part, got into crisis because of this great aid to Cuba.
The democratic legitimation of Chavez's term in office is still controversial today.
Charge of nepotism
The opposition often complained that nepotism reigned under Chavez .
Chavez's father was governor of the State of Barinas from 1998 to 2004 . Since 2008 his eldest brother Adán Chávez has been governor there. The brother Argenis has been Vice Minister for Development in the Ministry of Electricity since 2011. The brother Aníbal José is the mayor of Alberto Arvelo Torrealba. Jorge Arriaza, People's Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, is Chavez's son-in-law.
When his youngest daughter, Rosa Inés, said in 2006 that the horse should run left rather than right in Venezuela's national coat of arms , Chavez agreed with her, and shortly afterwards the national assembly, which was dominated by his party, approved the change.
Chávez has been awarded several honorary doctorates, including from Peking University , the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro , the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo and the South Korean Kyung Hee University . In addition, he was one of the four winners of the International José Martí Prize of UNESCO , which he received in 2005 for his work as “one of the most active supporters of regional integration in Latin American countries”. Furthermore, in 2004 he received the International Gaddafi Prize for Human Rights from the hands of the former Algerian head of state Ben Bella for “his fight for the poor and his campaign against hunger and misery” as well as the highest order of merit of Iran, reserved exclusively for heads of state, “for his contribution to improvement of bilateral relations "and" his efforts for a just peace, his uncompromising attitude against a ruling system and the support of all efforts for the freedom and independence of the Venezuelan nation ".
In 2011 he was awarded the Rodolfo Walsh Prize by the Faculty of Journalism at the University of La Plata (Argentina). The award is given to personalities who “contribute to the communication of the people, to democracy and to the freedom of the peoples” in the national and Latin American context. Opposition groups and media organizations in Venezuela and Argentina sharply criticized the awarding of the prize to Hugo Chávez. It cannot be that someone who closes opposition radio and television stations in his country receives an award named after a journalist who fell victim to the Argentine military dictatorship .
In 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) named its new program to combat hunger after Hugo Chávez.
Hugo Chavez has been honored in many ways in several countries. The city of Al-Bireh in the West Bank named a street after him in June 2013. In Moscow , too , a street named after Hugo Chavez was inaugurated on July 2, 2013. A Hugo Chavez Park was opened in the Belarusian capital Minsk on October 18, 2014 .
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President of Venezuela
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Chavez Frías, Hugo Rafael|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Venezuelan politician and president|
|DATE OF BIRTH||July 28, 1954|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Sabaneta , Barinas State, Venezuela|
|DATE OF DEATH||March 5, 2013|
|Place of death||Caracas|