A Quick Note On Venezuelan Elections

Chavez won. The comprador candidate got sent packing.

As, indeed, 80% of the pre-elections polls predicted.

I fully expect the usual democratist presstitutes to cry foul in the coming days. Not because the Venezuelan elections were unfair – though they will doubtless be claimed to be so by the organs of imperialist propaganda like the WSJ – but because their real wish is to dissolve the Venezuelan people and elect another.

PS. Must-read: Why the US demonises Venezuela’s democracy by Mark Weisbrot.


  1. Last year alone, Caracas had more violent deaths than Baghdad. Ryan Duffy traveled to Venezuela to investigate the country’s crime epidemic.

    While President Hugo Chavez has raked in billions from Venezuela’s oil boom, the crime rate in Caracas has skyrocketed. The crime epidemic has been so punishing that it could be the reason Hugo Chavez finally topples in the country’s upcoming elections.

    • There is no doubt that the crime situation in Venezuela is calamitous and that it has got much worse over the last decade. However what programmes like this (and I have only watched the first episode) tend to ignore is that this has been true not just in Venezuela but throughout the region with spiralling levels of crime and violence in Mexico and central America. I suspect that contrary to what the journalist says what is driving the violence is the displacement of the drugs trade from Colombia and the role Venezuela is now playing as a drug transit state.

      That is not of course to say that Chavez has handled the situation well. Obviously he hasn’t but then neither have the governments of Mexico or of the other states in central Amerca. Anyway my opinion is that this problem is not going to go away until there is final acceptance of reality and an end to the War on Drugs with a lifting of the prohibition on the use of drugs..

      • Yes, my POV as well. It’s that, or a real crackdown. In which case Chavez is going to be painted as dictator anyway. He’s damned whatever he does in the eyes of the Western media.

      • Honduras comes to mind.

        Friedman at Stratfor thinks the Mexico will be a major force in the future and have influence among the Mexican populations in the South of the US because its economy is the “13th largest in the world in nominal terms and the 11th by purchasing power parity, according to the World Bank” that I seriously doubt given that Mexico is in a state of civil war although it hasn’t reached the levels of Columbia during the 90’s.

        “Anyway my opinion is that this problem is not going to go away until there is final acceptance of reality and an end to the War on Drugs with a lifting of the prohibition on the use of drugs.”

        I don’t think that is the solution as there is a big question if the US is still currently involved in the global drug trafficking business using the “war on drugs” as a cover to support Columbian and Mexican drug lords using US charter flights, military bases and major western banks to exports tons of drugs annually and launder billions of dollars with George Soros one of the biggest proponents of drug legalisation.

        CIA Torture Jet wrecks with 4 Tons of COCAINE


        We certainly know that the CIA, western intelligence and NATO are involved in creating Albanian sex and drug trafficking networks in Europe that is used to support terrorists in North Caucasus and Eurasia and trafficking terrorists through Turkey since the 90’s supported by criminal networks that seem to be re-established by supporting anti-Assad militants in Syria.

        Without a doubt mostly likely given all the evidence the 9/11 hijackers ran through a protected European/North American Chechen terrorist network.

    • Ken Macaulay says:

      Agree with you Alexander & Anatoly – spillover from Colombia & the war on drugs a major factor in Venezuela’s crime problem. Wrote this a while ago elsewhere when someone brought it up:

      Somewhere around 200,000 Colombian refugees (according to the UN – others have put it higher) have flooded into Venezuela over the last decade, and are bringing the insurgency & massive drug related violence with them.
      Right-wing militia’s, since their official disbanding in Colombia, now vie with left guerrilla organistions for turf, & drug related violence mixed with the extreme poverty of refugees make a toxic cocktail that the Venezuelan authorities are having a hard time dealing with.
      Ecuador is experiencing similar problems, but more seem to be heading to the richer Venezuela, in the hope of a better life away from the violence for the ordinary refugee, or for greater opportunities in carving out richer territories for former right-wing militias, drug gangs & guerillas.

      Some links:

      Colombian neo-paramilitary group kidnapped tourists: Ecuador

      Venezuela closes border with Colombia for presidential election

      Why this hasn’t made much press in the US is the obvious avoidance of the MSM to question the consequences of the drug war, especially when Colombia is at the centre of it.

  2. I would add that the Guardian has been at the forefront of “predictions” that the Venezuelan election case was “too close to call” and that Chavez was heading for defeat.

    The Guardian’s coverage of Venezuela and of Chavez has been consistently unsympathetic. Shortly before the election it published an article by a Venezuelan journalist whose hostility to Chavez is so extreme that he apparently had to resign from the US newspaper which employed him because ot if. No doubt the Guardian will say that it publishes anti Chavez articles in order to achieve “balance” and it does have the odd favourable article about Chavez. However most British newspapers are right of centre and anyone wanting to read an anti Chavez article will find no shortage of them on their pages. If one takes the British press as a whole the argument about “balance” hardly applies. On the contrary by publishing articles hostile to Chavez the Guardian simply adds to the pronounced anti Chavez bias of the British press. Since the Guardian is supposed to be a left of centre newspaper I cannot imagine this stance is popular with many of its readers

  3. Dear Anatoly,

    Chavez shares with Putin the quality of provoking a hostility on the part of western governments and media that is frankly irrational. In the case of Chavez one anyway needs to distinguish between what he says and what he does. Chavez has to use a lot of high flown “revolutionary” rhetoric to keep his lower class base mobilised. This however conceals the fact that nothing about him is actually “revolutionary”. He holds elections, the Venezuelan press is free (and overwhelmingly hostile to him), he does not execute or imprison or exile his opponents and he runs what used to be called a “mixed” economy. Using oil wealth to provide free health care and education would not be considered “revolutionary” in most of western Europe. He has nationalised a number of industries but the economy remains capitalist. His anti American diatribes doubtless play well with his base but they do not translate into any actual actions that might threaten US interests.

    Basically I think the hostility to Chavez is part of the same culture war you identified previously in relation to Putin. Like Putin he is an aggressively male macho figure and this is something that even supposedly progressive elite Americans and Europeans find off putting. The sort of reformist South American politician they prefer is someone like Salvador Allende. He was an elegant intellectual from a prominent family with a beautiful wife who was also an accomplished writer. Allende of course failed completely in part because he was too culturally distant from the poor people he claimed to be representing for them to be able to identify with him By contrast poor Venezuelans can and do identify with Chavez as crucially did the junior ranks of the army at the time of the 2002 coup.

    • I agree with everything here.

      Chavez shares with Putin the quality of provoking a hostility on the part of western governments and media that is frankly irrational.

      Putin, Chavez, Assange: The Terrible Trio. No (real) dictator, no actual murderer, winds up the Western chauvinist to anywhere near the extent they do.

      • Jennifer Hor says:

        Alex, AK,

        It’s not just Chavez who riles Western governments and media but also Rafael Correa of Ecuador for giving refuge to Assange and changing the media landscape in his country (for which the Ecuadorian media accuses him of being high-handed and dictatorial – the parallel with the Venezuelan media’s treatment of Chavez is eerily similar), Evo Morales of Bolivia and Jose Mujica of Uruguay. Like Chavez, they use revolutionary rhetoric to appeal to their electoral bases (and may flaunt their working class backgrounds and possible associations with past leftist guerilla groups or being jailed by past pro-Washington military governments) but employ pragmatic economic and social policies. They’re striving to create societies with a basic social democratic orientation and mixed economies, not so different from what most of western Europe strove for in the past.

        On the other hand Brazil and Argentina are treated with more respect (or lack of attention) as their leaders have middle class backgrounds – and are female! But what Dilma Rouseff and Cristina Fernandez Kirchner are doing is not so different from what their neighbours are doing except in the details. Fernandez Kirchner gets hammered over the Falklands / Malvina Islands in the British media but that is all.

        This to me says that the English-language media is more obsessed with identity and gender politics issues than issues of social and economic access and rights.

  4. Here is an article about Chavez’s election victory that though written by someone who is clearly a supporter of Chavez I nonetheless found reasonable and balanced.


    Basically what it says is that the reason why Chavez won is because he has to a great extent delivered what the people who originally voted for him wanted. This is not some socialist Nirvana but measurable advances in education, housing, social services and health care, which make an actual difference to people’s lives and which for them outweigh the other very real problems (eg. violent crime, poor infrastructure, corruption etc) that Chavez has failed to solve.

  5. Crime = War on Drugs?

    Bah. I call BS.

    Stopping crime is super easy. You just have to be really hard on crime and viola. Problem solved. Put people in prison for a long time.

    In the US, crime soared to almost unimaginable levels around 1990, after we let ivory tower liberals control the crime-and-punishment conversation. Then, starting with the liberal cities that were competing every hour for the title of new crime capital of the world, we began cracking down, sentencing people and throwing away the key if they were repeat offenders.

    Lets be very clear: It is the very liberal, 95% Democrat urban areas that are toughest on crime, engaging in things like curfews, profiling and random stop-and-search that are quite openly unconstitutional. These are things that could never be done in Republican-controlled areas.

    Curfews? Think about. Liberals can say on the one hand that two men should be able to receive all the public financial subsidies of marriage for the sake of ‘freedom’ and yet its okay to stop someone from getting a breath of fresh air?

    Which is why I think that liberals are really the ones positioned to implement conservative policy.

    What if conservatives started saying in 1990 (when nobody was thinking of gay marriage) that those gays should get married so they stop spreading all their diseases? Then I bet it would be hate speech today to speak of gay ‘marriage’.

    • Drugs is one of the few ways ORGANISED crime can make money (real estate is the other major way). It also creates police free zones with the lookouts retail dealers use. Both are big creators of trouble.

  6. It should be noted that just because someone like Chavez comes in democratically, doesn’t mean it is good for freedom and rights. Democracy is the opposite of freedom in many cases. Just ask the minority in Iraq, Libya, South Africa, Egypt…

    • Chavez is unbeloved in the West because he tippled the oil price.

      ps. What did South Africa do wrong? Besides i would use Dixie as example as i don’t think that it is controversial with anybody.

  7. Odds and ends:

    Chavez didn’t do anything to oil prices. (Unless you count mismanaging the state oil company in such a way as to depress output.)

    The notion that the weak, effeminate West is alarmed by REAL MAN! leaders like Chavez and Putin makes me smile. Of course, I live in Germany, which has hands down the most macho head of state in Europe.

    Soaring crime rates are indeed a problem all across the region, including much of Brazil. So you can’t really pin that on Uncle Hugo Misspent oil wealth, massive corruption, crumbling infrastructure, inflation, intimidation of the judiciary, incoherent foreign policy, overlong speeches… you can reasonably accuse him of all sorts of things. But that, not so much.

    The largest minority in Libya — the Berbers — are much better off today than they were under Qaddafi. Mind you, that’s because they were the most ferocious and aggressive fighters against Qaddafi — he oppressed them for decades, so they hated him more than anyone else. So, during the 2011 civil war, they got lots and lots of arms from the West, because they were the one Libyan group that wasn’t hesitating to use them. They didn’t hand those guns in when the shooting stopped. Nobody’s going to mess with them now.

    WRT Roussef, “middle class” is much more important than “female”. More important still is that she was Lula’s handpicked successor. After a rocky start, the West reconciled itself to Lula and then came to positively love him — if only because he represented a “mainstream”, acceptable alternative to Chavez and friends. (For a fun graphic, check out Brazilian bond prices over the last 12 years. They surged to crazy heights after Lula’s election, because SOCIALISM!!! Then over the next two years they gradually declined until they were lower than before Lula’s election, as bond markets belatedly realized that Lula was somewhere between a European Social Democrat and a New Dealer.) By his last couple of years, Lula was a universally credible elder statesman (at least outside Brazil). So Roussef entered office with a nice little surplus of international political capital.

    Mark Weisbrot is a huge, huge Chavez fanboy. Read him for context, but don’t imagine for a moment you’re getting a balanced view.

    Doug M.

  8. When Chavez became president oil prices were around $10 and Venezuala was a habitual cheat with respect to their quotas. He ended the cheating and the oil price dubbled. PDVSA workers then went on strike to protect their income from cheating and that pushed oil prices to $30 so outside of that he didn’t do anything to the oil price.