Brian Holmes on Tue, 5 Mar 2002 14:36:36 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Venezuelan Politics as Pop Art

Ricardo Bello writes:

"The article on Venzuela must be a new version of pop-art. Chavezīs
government is the most corrupt and desastrous regime I have seen I my whole
life. Venezuela oilīs company, once one of the most succesful of the world,
is on the verge of bankrupcy. Moody have downgrade the country economy
several time since Chavez won the presidency and unenployment is rampant
today. But above all, Chavez managed to divided the country..."

Indeed, every article I have been able to find on Venezuelan politics
indicates an increasingly divided country with a real possibility for a
military coup in the near future. Chavez has adopted many of the traits of
what used to be called "Third Worldists" - thinking that Southern
countries, by banding together (e.g. OPEC...) can have political clout
against the North. Apparently, Chavez has pushed through some major land
reform bills. It seems, however, that a significant amount of what the
journalists call the "middle class" still supports him (to judge from
rather imprecise reports about the Feb 28 demonstrations). The articles all
indicate an extremely inegalitarian situation, with huge masses of rural
poor in one of the most oil-rich countries in the world. The leftist
articles talk about a neoliberal oligarchy running the country, and point
to the fact that a free press and opposition demonstrations were unknown
under former presidents (with dissent resulting, for instance, in the
massacres of February 27, 1989 - anywhere from 300 to 4000, depending on
who you believe). One possible explanation for the continuing support of
middle-class people is maybe that they appreciate a more democratic style
of government and don't want the country to reach the revolutionary
situation that Argentina is now in?

But for many years, Moody's gave very positive ratings to Argentina.

With all respect to Ricardo Bello, I am not certain Moody's really tells us
what's good for a country. I am not certain that deep political divisions
are "caused" by one man, either. But how to find out the truth?

The "Voice of America" website (of course it exists) has a relatively
detailed article ( They choose to open it like this:

"The ideological divide between supporters of the Chavez government and its
equally fervent opponents could lead the country to the brink of
catastrophe in the months ahead."

A premonition? An advance warning?

Brian Holmes

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