I am from Venezuela and have experienced the “Bolivarian Revolution” personally. I would like to address misconceptions about the Chavez regime; the first of these is that it is democratic. Chavez did try to abolish presidency terms and currently rules “by decree.” In addition, he denies free speech by trying to control the media. Recently one of the major private television stations (RCTV) was denied its license renewal. It was shut down and replaced by a state-run channel. Sympathizers for the station alike, saw the denial as an attempt to smother freedom of speech and protested.
There are several other examples of Chavez’s anti-democratic actions. For instance, the incarceration of several opposition reporters and Chavez’s exhaustive “cadenas.” Imagine every American owned TV station and radio station broadcasting Bush’s speeches, updates and “advances.” Hours and hours of it without escape. That’s exactly what Chavez does in Venezuela with his “cadenas” and no, it doesn’t matter that these stations are privately owned. Also, by law, 30% of what private radio stations broadcast has to be Venezuelan. In protest, the stations broadcast the most vulgar and obscene Venezuelan folk songs they could find.
So much for freedom of speech huh?
In reality, it doesn’t matter that these acts are undemocratic, because Chavez no longer claims to be democratic. He is a socialist and wants Venezuela to be a socialist state. He proposed renaming the country “Republica Socialista Bolivariana de Venezuela.” He changed the coat of arms on the flag – the horse now stubbornly sprints to the left whereas before it galloped gracefully to the right and looked back to the left.
Chavez loves renaming and manipulating things. He’s renamed the country to “Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela.” Part of the Avenida Paez has been renamed to Avenida Tehran; you can all figure out why. He plans to change the currency to Bolivar Fuerte. His greatest renaming project? He plans to pass a bill limiting the names parents can grant their children to a list of 100 names chosen by the government. Can you imagine a bill any more undemocratic? Taking the right away from parents to name their children whatever they please is absurd.
Previous articles about Chavez in The Minaret fail to address several important facts. It can be true that Chavez “looks out for the poor,” but he does so like Robin Hood: take from the rich to give to the poor. There are many hard working, law-abiding Venezuelans who have reached high economic status and now it is all being taken away because of Chavez’ policies.
For instance, small private farmers who sell their chicken no longer do because the government has imposed laws placing the price of chicken at a certain price – a price much too low for any small vendor. Chavez is not out to look after the poor; he wants to destroy and do away with the rich.
This is the reason chicken prices have been set low. Chavez claims the only reason chicken prices had been escalating is because the “oligarchs” and “capitalists” of the nation were greedy and wanted to make more money. So what have these corporations done? Much like small farmers, they’ve quit producing, because they produce at a loss.
Another example is the private sector of education. For the longest time, the government had not been able to meet the existing student demand and at the same time offer the level of excellence required for a legitimate school system. Out of these issues arose the private sector of schooling. Families, from the richest to the poorest, sent their children to these schools because they offered more prestigious curriculum.
These private institutions are now being threatened by tuition controls. Much like the chicken corporations, Chavez claims that the private sector solely raises prices to make more money, which is not necessarily the case. Many of these schools have had to shut down because they can no longer continue. The Chavez government increases the minimum wage for professors but does not allow the schools to raise their prices to be able to cover these increases.
It makes absolutely no sense.
In consequence, these schools are forced to close. In some cases however, the government will not allow them to close. Since so many have already shut down, the public sector cannot meet the demand. In Venezuela, every child has the right to an education, and by this right, Chavez has forced these private institutions to provide that right. These institutions are private and therefore should be allowed to charge however much they wish. But as we know all too well, Chavez does not care for the private sector.
In a recent speech, Chavez welcomed private institutions so long as they abide by the educational rights delineated within the Constitution. Yet, within the same speech, he claimed in a few years, there will not be any private educational institutions in Venezuela. You may be thinking that this is ludicrous – and you’re right – but that’s just the way it works these days in Venezuela.
In articles to follow, I will discuss more of Chavez’s “missions,” and reveal more of the truth about what this undemocratic socialist has meant for the people – both rich and poor – of Venezuela.