Sunday, October 07, 2012
Is Hugo Chavez History?
There is an historic election being held in Venezuela today between Hugo Chavez and the candidate of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), Henrique Capriles. And believe it or not, the exit polls show Capriles beating Chavez, 51.3 to 48.06.
Voting has been fairly calm, with the army guarding polling places and only a few instances of sporadic violence.
At issue is a major change both in Venezuela's political orientation and its economic policy.
In spite of Venezuela's oil wealth, the country suffers from one of the world's highest murder rates, 18 percent inflation, a deteriorating electrical grid and the bloated Chavez government accused of endemic corruption and mismanagement.
In addition, while Chavez has used effective control of the Venezuelan government. the National Assembly, much of the courts and media and the Central Bank to push through massive social welfare benefits, the country 's budget is in deficit, and the Chavez bureaucracy has stifled private enterprise and job growth.
Chavez is also not the fighter he once was, having recently gone through a bout with cancer that included chemotherapy and radiology.
Capriles, a popular state governor favors a more pro-western policy, calls for an end to corruption, more privatization and and an end to special oil deals for countries run by Chavez's cronies like Cuba. He's a savvy po0litician who managed to unite the opposition factions.
Needless to say, the country is divided. Sounds familiar, no?
Will this be the end of Chavez's 'Boliverian Revolution'? I'd say much depends on whether the army still backs him.
So far, the exit polls show Capriles winning, but anything could happen.