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Editorial / Commentary / Opinion

 

 

Gustavo Coronel: Will Hugo Chavez
finish his presidential term ?

 

 

Some analysts say no. Newsweek predicts that the combination of bureaucratic ineptness, financial problems, prodigal spending, corruption, food shortages and collapse of public services will force an intervention of the military to oust Chavez in 2010. I am not sure if this will happen in 2010 but it is highly probable that a significant intervention will take place before 2012, when he would finish his presidential term. The nature of the intervention might also be different from a traditional military coup and could adopt the form of a popular insurgency, with the refusal of the armed forces to repress the protesters. This already happened in 2002 and ended with the ousting of Chavez, who was returned back to power 48 hours later by a military commander who now happens to be one of his political prisoners. It is doubtful, therefore, that there will be any potential saviors among the military this time around.

What is the mood of the country today? The most recent poll, December of this year, shows the people are getting highly frustrated with a man who talks incessantly but does little in substance to put the country in the path of progress. Some of the results of this poll, by a company of excellent reputation called Hinterlaces, show that:

  • 58 percent of Venezuelans think that things are going badly, 39 percent believe they are going well;
  • 61 percent feel Chavez is anti-democratic, 35 percent perceive him as democratic;
  • 65 percent believe Hugo Chavez should not extend his presidency beyond 2012; 27 percent think he should;
  • 83 percent reject the prodigality of the president, only 13 percent approve;
  • 87 percent reject the idea that Venezuela should become another Cuba, only 9 percent approve;
  • 61 percent disagree with socialism; 31 percent approve;
  • 75 percent oppose a break with Colombia, 19 percent approve;
  • 55 percent feel Chavez is a bad president, 39 percent feel he is a good president.

Another poll conducted in November of this year by a clearly pro-Chavez polling company called IVD-Seijas also shows a substantial erosion of Chavez’s image, as follows:

  • 81 percent feel that crime is the main problem in the country. 71 percent think it has grown worse while 35 percent think unemployment is a major problem and 34 percent think poor public services are a widespread problem;
  • 70 percent believe Chavez is the main responsible for these main problems and that there are little efforts being made to improve on the situation;
  • If elections were held today 42 percent would vote Chavez out of office, 41 percent would vote for him. Only 14 percent would like to see him as president beyond 2012.

In addition there is no mistaking the somber mood of the country, as illustrated by the daily news regarding politics, the economy and social life. Chavez has resorted to violent rhetoric, to all-out intolerance and is now publicly browbeating his own collaborators for being incompetent. Corruption scandals are erupting almost daily, especially in the state oil company and in the banking system. A minister has already been dismissed, the brother of a corrupt banker and banking mafias have been identified, led by prominent Chavez followers, including one of his ministers, Diosdado Cabello, his brother Adan and his former vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel. In parallel Hugo Chavez has lost considerable international support due to his open alignment with Colombian terrorist group, FARC and his unsuccessful drive to promote Honduran President Zelaya’s presidential re-election, in violation of that country’s constitution.

Although Chavez persists in his efforts to impose a socialist, non-democratic regime in Venezuela and to become a regional anti-U.S. leader he seems to be losing momentum. Eleven years and almost one trillion of dollars later his dreams of a socialist hemisphere are drowning in incompetence.

 

 

Gustavo Coronel is a 28 years oil industry veteran, a member of the first board of directors (1975-1979) of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), author of several books. At the present Coronel is Petroleumworld associate editor and advisor on the opinion and editorial content of the site. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

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Petroleumworld News 12/24/09

 

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