Bolivarian Republic President Hugo Chavez is running for re-election in October 2012. His government has brought tremendous progress to the South American state., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Havana. June 14, 2012
Chávez begins campaign
THE Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has its candidate for the presidential elections of October 7, 2012. On June 11, accompanied by his people, Hugo Chávez Frías officially registered with the National Electoral Council.
From that day, as the Venezuelan leader announced, a new Battle of Carabobo is beginning. In Carabobo, June 24, 1821, the pro-independence forces of Simón Bolívar won a decisive victory over Spanish colonialism. This time the battle is against the national and pro-yankee oligarchy, which has already registered its candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonsky.
Capriles Radonsky has been dubbed "majunche," a Venezuelan expression currently in vogue in social network debates, which means of inferior quality, lackluster, mediocre. And it totally fits the ethical-political-social profile of Chávez’ rival, without any doubt the worst candidate that the Venezuelan right could have selected.
From this point of view, Chávez is beginning his campaign with a solid advantage. This is a reality confirmed by all the opinion polls and the spirit of victory transmitted by the popular forces supporting him. However, nobody should believe that the contest will be an easy one or exempt from difficult battles: political analysts calculate that Radonsky had one billion dollars at his disposal just for the pre-electoral campaign, funds which obviously came from those with their sights set on Venezuela’s oil wealth.
Chávez’ first strength – and his principal political capital – lies in having maintained intact a high level of popular support, after 13 years of leading the revolutionary process. His second strength is having entered Venezuelan history as the leader who restored to the people the capacity to dream and grow, who revived the inconclusive dreams of Simón Bolívar and who halted imperialist intervention in country’s economic and political life.
Chávez is running for reelection without having to make a single promise. Those he has carried through are more than sufficient. On October 28, 2005, UNESCO declared Venezuela an Illiteracy Free Territory. Now it is the second Latin American country and the fifth in the world with the largest university population. More than 10 million Venezuelans attend classes daily at all levels of education. More than 4,500 schools have been built in a 10-year period and 15 higher educational institutes have been established.
An impressive social investment is emerging throughout the country: the extreme poverty rate has dropped from 22.2% to 10.7%. Access to potable water stands at 96%. A total of 1.305 million retirees have social security. Unemployment has fallen to 7.4%, from 14.6% in 1999. The social missions (Mercal, PDVAL, PAE, Barrio Adentro, Housing and Culture) are maintaining their levels of attention to the population, directed at giving dignity to those previously excluded from society.
Coining a popular expression, Chávez always responds to opposition media campaigns, "Let those who have eyes, see!" But the revolutionary work has been so broad and all-embracing that eyes cannot take it all in. One has to have recourse to memory, to sentiments, to understand why people on the street say and write on walls that the oligarchs "will not return."
THE RIGHT’S RETURN BUS
Months before his candidacy was made official, Capriles Radonsky began to reiterate his "Bus of Progress" lecture, an empty and popular story along the lines of "Once upon a time… a brave young man arrived to save his country." The path selected for this mission is that of the so-called Third Way (paralleling the campaigns of Tony Blair in the UK, Ricardo Lagos in Chile, Oscar Arias in Costa Rica and even Bill Clinton in the United States). Thus there is nothing innovative about the "bus of progress" proposal.
It is not by chance that, during Capriles Radonsky’s pre-campaign, a private bank organized the Words for Venezuela events, giving publicity to "the virtues of a third way in the face of socialism and capitalism." Analyst Eyli Navas has described this stratagem as "the return bus." The right wants to retake power at any price and utilizing any method. Now, affirms Navas, "mounted on what Karl Marx called bourgeois reformism."
In Navas’ opinion, the Third Way is being utilized in Capriles Radonsky’s campaign to cast a spell on the masses. But in real terms, it pursues clear objectives: to recover the transnationalized neocolony, bury Bolivarianism, put an end to integration processes in Latin America, dismember the armed forces, privatize public wealth, disassemble the social missions, repeal Poder Popular (government) legislation and persecute and bring to trial revolutionary leaders, thus eliminating any possibility of their ideals reappearing.
Call them whatever they are called, the Third Way, the Bus of Progress or the film show of Capriles Radonsky ("house to house"), are condemned to suffer the most crushing defeat. For Chávez and his people there is no alternative.