Latin America

Chavez’s “47 percent” moment?

That’s what Gustavo Hernandez Acevedo at Caracas Chronicles calls this remarkable admission by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he campaigns for another term in next Sunday’s election.

“There can be some people could be unsatisfied with the failures of our government, that the streets aren’t fixed, that electricity is out and water isn’t running, that they don’t have a job and their house wasn’t delivered on time… …That’s not what’s at stake. What’s really at stake is the life of the fatherland.”

That’s right. After 13 years in office and tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue flowing into government coffers, Chavez essentially admits to a fundamental failure in providing Venezuelans with basic services, while insisting that none of this is really important. The only thing that’s important is the reelection of Hugo Chavez.

Gustavo adds:

This comment brings to mind the infamous “47 percent” comment in the U.S. – the context is different, but the experience of hearing the candidate speak out loud words that confirm every negative storyline the other side’s campaign has spent months trying to establish is very much the same.

Although I won’t venture to predict the outcome of the election, Chavez’s social democratic opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski (whom Chavez supporters have tried to portray as a gay Jewish Zionist fascist), has run a very effective campaign– drawing big crowds even in supposed Chavez strongholds and capped by a huge crowd for a Sunday rally in Caracas.

I assume that not all of them were members of the privileged elite whom the Chavistas claim are the core of the opposition to their man.

Although President Obama is no fan of Chavez, the Venezuelan president claims to want to see him reelected.

But I think a case can be made that while George W. Bush’s open hostility to Chavez strengthened Chavez’s position domestically, Obama’s election weakened it. Bush’s administration supported the coup that briefly ousted Chavez in 2002 and served as a convenient enemy/scapegoat for the Venezuelan leader. Obama hasn’t fit into the role of El Diablo so easily. The anti-US rhetoric since 2009 just doesn’t have the same old ring.