By John Cook
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez”s “21st century socialism” will not be met without complications, both nationally and internationally. Chavez”s opponents have voiced concerns over a rise in crime, oil revenues and unemployment.
With an overwhelming win over Gov. Manuel Rosales, Chavez continues to make promises as he seeks to form a new socialist government. Reaching out to the poor has been his strong point. However, can he keep up the social programs he continues to announce?
“I don”t think re-election of Hugo Chavez was best thing for the country,” said Fidel Perez, a BYU student from Venezuela. “He has done a few positive things for the country by helping more people get pensions and raising the minimum wage, but I don”t support him.”
Reaching out to the poor continues to escalate Chavez”s popularity, but without long-term economic results, his popularity could drop as quickly as it has risen.
“The poor people are getting more [money],” said BYU political professor Kirk Hawkins. “However, Chavez isn”t adopting the economic policies that he needs to, to produce a viable economy.”
With unemployment still high and not enough jobs being created, Chavez is spending too much money without creating new jobs. The oil revenues will last for a time, but without additional exports Venezuela won”t be able to become the thriving socialist state Chavez promises.
“He isn”t providing jobs or education,” said Andreina Giron, a BYU student from Venezuela. “He provides money for food, but not enough to live on. He just has the best public relations people with him. It”s just propaganda.”
Not only will Chavez face economic hurdles, Giron said, but he will also face loyalty issues as he continues to strip local and foreign companies of their rights by buying them out. With these changes, Venezuelans have mixed opinions of the elections and their president”s policies. Giron spent some time at home in Venezuela, during the elections and was able to observe its effects firsthand.
“After the elections people were sad,” Giron said. “All throughout the city people were depressed even on Christmas, the happiest time of year for Venezuelans.”
Chavez”s government continues to divide Venezuelans, and the situation is getting even worse, Giron said.
“If you aren”t with Chavez you get fired,” Giron said. “There is no way to be friends if you aren”t in the same party. You think it is bad between Democrats and Republics. Our situation is 25 times worse.”