News Release

Venezuela’s Election


MARK WEISBROT via Dan Beeton [email]
Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. (CEPR will be live-blogging the elections Sunday, with updates from election accompaniers on the ground in Venezuela.)

Weisbrot’s most recent column appears in The Guardian. He wrote: “Here is what Jimmy Carter said about Venezuela’s ‘dictatorship’ a few weeks ago: ‘As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.’ … Because Washington has sought for more than a decade to de-legitimize Venezuela’s government, his viewpoint is only rarely reported. His latest comments went unreported in almost all of the U.S. media.

“The opposition will most likely lose this election … because the majority of Venezuelans have dramatically improved their living standards under the Chávez government. Since 2004, when the government gained control over the oil industry and the economy had recovered from the devastating, extra-legal attempts to overthrow it (including the 2002 U.S.-backed military coup and oil strike of 2002-2003), poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. And this measures only cash income. Millions have access to health care for the first time, and college enrollment has doubled, with free tuition for many students. Inequality has also been considerably reduced.”

Tinker Salas is a professor of history and Latin American studies at Pomona College and author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela. He said today: “The outcome of Venezuela’s election on Sunday, October 7 will not only determine who governs Venezuela for the next six years but also who controls the most important proven oil deposits in the world. Regionally, the Chávez election in 1998 became the first of many left electoral gains in Latin America including Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. Therefore, the outcome of these elections will reverberate throughout Latin America, Washington, Beijing and other world capitals.

“A Chávez victory would affirm the process of social change underway in Venezuela while buttressing efforts at Latin American integration underway the early 2000s. That is why Lula, the former president of Brazil, stated that a victory for Chávez would confirm the political changes underway in Latin America.”