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Chavez' Venezuela At 10 Years
February 10, 2009 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Just ahead of a re-election referendum in Venezuela (scheduled for February 15), The Chávez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators [PDF][Via]
posted by Rykey (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Growth has increased, poverty and debt have decreased, which is all good. But, then again, with record oil prices during the same time as the survey, any monkey in a tin pot military uniform would be able to achieve the same results.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:44 AM on February 10, 2009


Cool. I'm really interested in how the Chavez administration has been playing out, and at least economically, the answer is, 'quite well, though maybe due to luck as much as anything else'?

I'm going to use this thread as an opportunity to ask: Where is a good source for information on current socialism in South America? I don't really have any grasp of what's going on there, but I don't trust any conventional sources for information about it.
posted by Alex404 at 8:00 AM on February 10, 2009


>...any monkey in a tin pot military uniform would be able to achieve the same results.

Mildly racist, no? Or did 'any person in a tin pot military uniform would be able to achieve the same results.' not fit your feelings about it.
posted by gsb at 8:26 AM on February 10, 2009


...any monkey in a tin pot military uniform would be able to achieve the same results.

Unless they siphon every last penny to Switzerland. I think nationalising the oil companies would be a good thing.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:28 AM on February 10, 2009


I really don't think he's done enough. The murder rate there is incredible. I hope they keep it democratic.
posted by Flex1970 at 8:29 AM on February 10, 2009


But despite the almost universal agreement that "Chavez has made the welfare of the Venezuelan poor his top priority"[91] and record oil profits for funding, Chavez's "initiatives have yielded only very modest gains," according to Michael Shifter of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.[4] The same study the Globe quoted went on to say "The poor of Venezuela are living much better lately and have increased their purchasing power . . . [but] without being able to improve their housing, education level, and social mobility," .... "Rather than help [the poor] become stakeholders in the economic system," what the government has done is "distribute as much oil wealth as possible in missions and social programs.”[80]

Francisco Rodriquez, a former Chief Economist of the Venezuelan National Assembly, goes further saying "neither official statistics nor independent estimates show" improvements in most health and human development indicators in Venezuela "beyond what is normal in the midst of an oil boom." In fact some indicators "have deteriorated worryingly," including measures of income inequality.[91]
posted by clavdivs at 9:37 AM on February 10, 2009


yeah, I hate wiki-sticki links too.
posted by clavdivs at 9:37 AM on February 10, 2009


Clavdivs-- your source? I see citation numbers but no links. Just curious.
posted by Rykey at 9:57 AM on February 10, 2009


Frontline aired an excellent piece on Chavez last November. It is well worth watching if you have the time.
posted by cjets at 10:18 AM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


wikipedia under chavez criticism. not the best source but it has footnotes.
posted by clavdivs at 10:20 AM on February 10, 2009


I watched the Frontline piece, and it educated me for sure.
posted by Flex1970 at 10:21 AM on February 10, 2009


as an aside I hate Hugo because he tried to seize power and FAILED. I mean, he had to run an election in order to have power and that cannot do.
posted by clavdivs at 10:22 AM on February 10, 2009


beyond what is normal in the midst of an oil boom

I wonder what the unit of comparison is that's used to determine a baseline "normal" in this case. Alberta? Texas? Saudi Arabia?

Latin America has the worst income inequality measures in the world. Its states have been dominated by foreign and domestic elites who have siphoned off much of their massive resource wealth, often with nothing trickling down to the poor.

The increase in social and development indicators in Venezuela is by no means a given.
posted by Adam_S at 10:30 AM on February 10, 2009


Rodríguez has some interesting papers about Venezuela on his website. I'm looking through them now. He certainly doesn't think very much of Weisbrot, an author of the FPP's linked paper, or the CEPR.
posted by topynate at 10:50 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link, topynate. I was hoping this post would be a good starting point for a discussion on Chavez/Venezuela, with links to a variety of perspectives.
posted by Rykey at 11:16 AM on February 10, 2009


Seconding the Frontline piece. Great stuff, and very enlightening about Chavez. In it they showed bits of his nationally televised hours-long weekly TV program, Alle Presidente, and that will stick with me for quite some time. (spoiler: I now think he's cuckoo-nuts)
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:31 AM on February 10, 2009


The Revolution will not be Televised is another interesting watch, although Chavez is presented there as a hero.

I don't think he's cuckoo-nuts. I think he's charismatic and knows how to use the media. I personally enjoyed watching him tweak GW Bush.

I'm in favor of a lot of his stated policies (and I liked seeing gas at 19¢/gallon), but the people I know in Venezuela used to be middle class, and aren't any more. They feel he's ruined the middle class there by driving out foreign companies.

-3rding the Frontline piece
posted by MtDewd at 1:07 PM on February 10, 2009


Growth has increased, poverty and debt have decreased, which is all good. But, then again, with record oil prices during the same time as the survey, any monkey in a tin pot military uniform would be able to achieve the same results.

You're not the first to say this. The Venezuelan opposition call Chavez the "monkey king". See here for an example. Chavez is Venezuela's first Afro-indigenous president.
posted by stammer at 1:11 PM on February 10, 2009


It should also be noted that Aló, presidente is available uncut online too, and I recall after giving it a listen a few years ago that he has a surprisingly calming and seductive voice.
posted by kittyprecious at 2:25 PM on February 10, 2009


I watched the Frontline piece (well, I'm 2/3 of the way in), and it's great. He's not nuts. I don't see any reason to doubt his good intentions, but I think he's simply not wise enough to run the country. He can't take criticism, and he has enormous power. It's a deadly combination, and it's hard to see it ending well.
posted by alexei at 2:34 PM on February 10, 2009


The Economist has two articles on Chavez this week.


CEPR are Chavez advocates, it's even noted on their wikipedia page. That's not to say they are wrong, just to point out their position.
posted by sien at 2:52 PM on February 10, 2009


Mildly racist, no?
Lame comment.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:25 PM on February 10, 2009


Before you start calling Chavez cuckoo-nuts, take a look at the long tradition of Latin American and Caribbean dictators he belongs to.

Some very good books by some very good writers have been written about real and not completely real Latin American Dictators. I grew up in a suburb where the streets were named after writers. Just from a few blocks radius I've read “Yo el Supremo” by Roa Bastos, “El recurso del Método”, by Carpentier (the street were I first got drunk), “Oficio de difuntos” by Arturo Uslar Pietri, “La fiesta del Chivo” by Vargas Llosa, and “El otoño del Patriarca”" by García Márquez.

Among my favourites are Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, El Supremo, who tried to build a Rousseauian utopia in Paraguay in the 1800's. He ordered all me to raise their hats when they saw him, and for those who wore no hats, he ordered them to carry a hat brim so they would have something to raise. Then there is Melgarejo in Bolivia (poor Bolivia), who loved Paris (a city he never visited) so much that he tried to send the Bolivian Army to France's aid overland. He was stopped by the rain, not by the ocean. Or Trujillo, who in the 1930's erected a gigantic "Dios Y Trujillo" illuminated sign in the capital city, and ordered churches to carry the slogan "Trujillo on earth, God in Heaven".

I can not wait for the book to be written about Chavez. Too bad Bolaños wont be here to do it.


---------------------------
Depicting military dictators as monkeys (or cavemen) in military uniforms is a tradition in Latin America, regardless of their "race". I have seen cartoons of Castro (Fidel and Raul), Pinochet, Chavez, Diaz Ordaz, Desi Bouterse, and many others I can't remember now.

At least in the case of Bouterse, he does look like a monkey with that beard and the way the glasses enlarge his eyes.

This is a Venezuelan cartoon.

Diaz Ordaz (not a typical dictator, responsible for the Mexican version of the Tienanmen massacre) had to hear protestors yelling "Sal al balcón, chango hocicón" (very liberally translated to "Show your face, you big mouthed monkey").

posted by dirty lies at 9:04 PM on February 10, 2009


Among my favourites are Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, El Supremo, who tried to build a Rousseauian utopia in Paraguay in the 1800's. He ordered all me to raise their hats when they saw him, and for those who wore no hats, he ordered them to carry a hat brim so they would have something to raise. Then there is Melgarejo in Bolivia (poor Bolivia), who loved Paris (a city he never visited) so much that he tried to send the Bolivian Army to France's aid overland. He was stopped by the rain, not by the ocean. Or Trujillo, who in the 1930's erected a gigantic "Dios Y Trujillo" illuminated sign in the capital city, and ordered churches to carry the slogan "Trujillo on earth, God in Heaven".
As far as I can tell, these anecdotes are pretty convincing proof that he doesn't belong to this tradition. What has he done that is at all comparable to any of these actions? And are you seriously saying there is no racial component to depicting Venezuela's first black President as a banana-scoffing monkey in a red beret? If there was a caricature of Obama as a gorilla in a suit under the headline "Obama blows stimulus package on banana supplies", would it be justified because of all the comparisons of Bush to a chimpanzee? Or is there, you know, a difference?
posted by stammer at 9:41 PM on February 10, 2009


stammer,

I ommited everything that had to do with their social, cultural or economic policies and just mentioned some crazy stuff in the hopes that someone's curiosity would lead them to do some research. Chavez hours long TV appearances, his birthday presents for his child, his isolationism, etc... are all in the tradition of Latin American dictators.

Regarding the racism in the monkey cartoons, being black in Latin America is VERY DIFFERENT from being African American in the USA. Being of mixed African-Amerindian descent is even more complex. If you are really interested, you could read on the blacks of Belize, the blacks of Veracruz in Mexico, when and how slavery was abolished in different countries, and a lot more.

To answer your question, depicting Obama as a monkey in the USA in 2009 would seem racist to me, unless there was a lot of context to explain the cartoonists intent. In Latin America? Not so much. Do you know when Mexico had its first black president? Vicente Guerrero in 1829. Its first amerindian president? Benito Juarez in 1858. Lets wait and see when the USA gets its first Navajo president. The US has a lot of catching up to do with respect to racial relations, in other countries, people don't automatically associate monkeys with black people.
posted by dirty lies at 10:28 PM on February 10, 2009


...any monkey in a tin pot military uniform would be able to achieve the same results.

Mildly racist, no?

If there was a caricature of Obama as a gorilla in a suit...

...people don't automatically associate monkeys with black people.


Yeah, I have to say, I read the first comment as having to do with the fact that monkeys are (usually) dumber than people, not as a racist barb at Chavez.
posted by Rykey at 7:21 PM on February 11, 2009


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