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Friday, 23rd March 2018

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VICTORY TO CHAVEZ: Millions demonstrate support for Hugo Chavez on streets of Caracas ahead of Presidential election

By Ben Hayes and Fiona Edwards, Student Friends of Venezuela

Millions of Hugo Chavez supporters rallied on the streets of Caracas yesterday to demonstrate their support for his campaign to be re-elected as President of Venezuela on Sunday, in the biggest demonstration Venezuela has ever seen.

These extraordinary scenes have come about after more than a decade of social progress in Venezuela, resulting from the Chavez government’s policies for “twenty first century socialism”.

The living standards of the majority of Venezuelans has dramatically improved under Chavez. Poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70%. Millions have access to healthcare for the first time. Huge investment in free education has resulted in a massive expansion of access to higher education, with the participation of young people soaring to 83%. Inequality has also been considerably reduced. Huge advances in rights for women, indigenous, disabled and LGBT communities have been another characteristic of Chavez’s ‘Bolivarian revolution’.

All this stands in sharp contrast to the two decades that preceded Chavez, which as Mark Weisbrot points out “amount to one of the worst economic failures in Latin America, with real income per person actually falling by 14% between 1980 and 1998.”

Given the stunning social achievements which have transformed the lives of millions of people over the past 14 years since Chavez was first elected, it should come as little surprise that nearly all the pre election polls suggest Chavez will win the Presidential election by a landslide on Sunday – as this graph of all polls in September featured below shows.

Yet the Western media – including the Guardian – are claiming its going to be a “close race” between Chavez and US backed Capriles – whose policies to reinstate neo-liberalism and privatisation are in fact very unpopular with the majority of the Venezuelan people.

It is not the case that these Western journalists cannot count or have not seen these polls. There is a co-ordinated campaign led by the US to attempt to de-legitimise the Venezuelan elections internationally, alongside threats of military intervention.

There are also growing fears that Venezuela’s right-wing opposition will not accept the election results if they lose and are lobbying governments around the world to not recognise the results. Over 200 prominent people from across society have called on the British government to respect the results on the Venezuelan Presidential election.

The most important thing we can do in Britain ahead of and after Sunday’s election is demand that our government respects the will of the Venezuelan people and does not support any foreign intervention designed to undermine democracy and social progress in Venezuela.

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