Sunday, November 23, 2008

Local elections in Venezuela

By all accounts, today's state and local elections in Venezuela will determine whether last December's referendum debacle was a temporary set back for Chavez or the beginning of a longer decline for the Venezuelan left.

As with the referendum vote, it does not look like Chavez has prepared well. Chavez is again relying on the military to fight any attempt to sabotage the elections, rather than mobilizing his base, the urban poor, who fended off the 2002 coup attempt. Also troubling is Chavez's reaching out to champion of democracy Vladmir Putin, seeing an alliance with Russia as a bulwark against US intervention. All this seems to suggest that Chavez sees his power as flowing from the barrel of a gun, rather than from the Venezuelan working class.

Since the referendum, the Venezuelan ruling class has attempted to sabotage the economy by hoarding food and jacking up prices. If this Al-Jazeera English report is to be believed, there is discontent within Chavez's base over the limits of progress. Given the failure of the referendum, and the growing problems with food prices, it seems pretty believable. (I'm not sure how reliable Al-Jazeera is on Venezuela. This report is unlike most bald-faced anti-Chavez propaganda that tries to pass off protests by rich students, the same goose-stepping bastards who supported the coup, as a democratic opposition within Venezuela. Any thoughts, gentle readers?)