Chávez Must Look Homeward To Nurse His Ailing
Revolution and Reinforce His Constituency
– Economic hard times eroding his constituency
– Venezuelan leader would do well to more carefully choose his shots
In 1998, Venezuelans broke with political tradition by electing a well-known and controversial populist colonel named Hugo Chávez Frias as president. They ignored precedent because the long-established, IMF-inspired, neoliberal prescriptions were hurting the nation and no longer credible. In the eleven years since his rise to prominence, Chávez has changed the fabric of Venezuelan society through his self-denominated Revolución Bolivariana. Long-sought changes aimed at different sectors of Venezuelan society, such as the political system and the economy, have come at a heavy price: crime and violence are rampant, inflation is soaring, and Chávez’s often picante rhetoric has become an international punch line. While it is undeniable that he has brought about vast social change in his country and region, his explosive administrative style and the alarming divisive state of the country call into question his ability to manage his socialist revolution.