Venezuela’s revolution is divided in the cradle of Chavismo

SABANETA, Venezuela – Nancy Mora longs for the affection she says late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez showed to his people. She touches her heart when she talks about the man she still calls her president and believes the revolution he started will continue as long as the self-proclaimed Chavistas like her live.

Chavismo’s internal struggles were encapsulated by the apparent defeat – and its aftermath – of one of Chávez’s brothers in the November presidential election. Now, after the winner. apparently in the state of Barinas being eliminated again, a re-election is scheduled for Sunday.

The ballot for the special election for Barinas did not include Chávez for the first time in more than two decades, but efforts from Venezuela’s ruling United Socialist Party to draw voters to the polls revolved around the name. the last symbolizes people like Mora.

“The socialist revolution is the undead sentiment; It’s an emotion we all carry with us,” said Mora, 41, while touring Chávez’s childhood home, now turned into a museum.

Mora said Chávez taught her that revolution symbolizes equality. “It is socialism of love,” she said, “but she cannot explain why millions of people in the South American country struggle to make ends meet on the $2 minimum monthly wage while other someone else can get $15 off a coffee shop lunch.

Chávez, elected in 1998, promised to improve the lives of Venezuela’s poorest people using the country’s oil. He expanded social services, including housing and education, thanks to the country’s oil fund, which generated an estimated $981 billion in revenue between 1999 and 2011 when oil prices soared. .

But corruption, dwindling oil production and economic policies led to a glaring crisis in 2012. Chávez will die of cancer the following year after appointing Nicolás Maduro as his successor.

The country’s political, social and economic crises, which have led to a sharp drop in oil production and prices, have continued under Maduro’s watch. More than 5 million people have fled the country, and millions more live in poverty, facing low wages, high food prices and the world’s worst inflation rates.

The United Nations food assistance agency has estimated that one in three Venezuelans is struggling to consume enough calories daily.

Votes for the ruling party have fallen since 2017. About 6.5 million people voted for pro-government candidates in that year’s regional elections. On November 21, that number dropped to about 3.7 million.

Opposition candidate Freddy Superlano led Argenis Chávez by less than 1 percentage point when the country’s highest court removed him on November 29. The court, one of many government agencies seen as loyal to the Maduro’s government ignored the president’s pardon. made Superlano and other members of the opposition eligible to run for office.

The moves in Barinas further cast doubt on the fairness of Venezuela’s electoral system after the first vote in years in which most major political movements participated, a poll observed by more than 130 observers from the European Union, the United Nations and the US-based Carter Center.

Rosa Hidalgo has a poster from Chavez’s last presidential campaign in a corner of her house. She was close to his family and cooked for him many times even after he became president. She was grateful for the refrigerator he gave her, but she still did not vote for his brother on November 21.

For her, the revolution “could be” a thing of the past. Now, she prays about working for her community so people don’t have to immigrate.

“Chávez has been very good. But what happened was like if you were good and you gave me the responsibility and I was not good and I messed up your party and your business,” Hidalgo, 84, said of Maduro and his team. “Maduro didn’t come to my house to ask for votes. Maduro came because Chávez knew he was going to die. I’m hardly a Madurista. ”

That distinction is increasingly common.

Oscar Vallés, political analyst and professor at the Metropolitan University of Caracas, said many Chavistas want to maintain some kind of access to government-provided social programs, such as food boxes and subsidized gift certificates, but they are not willing to publicly advertise Maduro. Work.

“They have an ambiguous position on this,” Vallés said. “They punish in some way those Maduro officials who do not fulfill their role, to the point where Maduro, as a result of November 21, says that the great enemies of the revolution are public officials who do not comply (with their duty) and whose head will roll. ”

In addition to Superlano being disqualified, his wife, who was chosen to be his successor, was also disqualified. So did her replacement. Sunday’s ballot included Sergio Garrido, the candidate of the US-backed opposition, Claudio Fermin, an opposition dissident, and Jorge Arreaza, a former foreign minister.

When Maduro announced Arreaza as the ruling party’s candidate, Hugo Chávez was repeatedly mentioned in speeches, two large photographs of him placed in a gymnasium where people gathered for the announcement. , and his connection to Arreaza is also emphasized. Arreaza is the father of one of Hugo Chávez’s grandchildren.

“Chávez will of course remain a mythical figure that the whole world will want to emulate in Chavismo’s side, but the political costs of the Maduro regime are extremely high,” Vallés said. “I think Chavismo is on the decline and there will come a time when being a candidate for a political position with (the ruling party emblem) on the chest will be even more disadvantageous.”

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/venezuelas-revolution-divided-cradle-chavismo-82150292 Venezuela’s revolution is divided in the cradle of Chavismo

Emma Bowman

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