Source: NACLA Report on the Americas
Critiques from both Chavistas and the opposition in Venezuela raise the question: How to evaluate a government committed to a gradual democratic road to far-reaching change in the context of extreme polarization and conflict?
Nearly two years after Hugo Chávez’s death, the key question facing many on the left, in Venezuela and elsewhere, is whether his successors are true to his legacy. Or has the “revolutionary process,” initiated more than a decade ago, been stalled and betrayed.
Recent pressing problems have convinced some Chavistas that, at best, President Nicolás Maduro is severely lacking Chávez’s political acumen. High on the list are the chronic shortages of basic consumer goods, as well as annual inflation of over 60%. Both, Maduro claims, are part of an “economic war” waged by powerful interests to destabilize Venezuela.
These scourges were also prevalent under Chávez, but with less intensity, and in any case he faced them head on. When shortages of commodities became particularly severe in 2007, Chávez decreed widespread expropriations. In 2009 he attacked the corruption that propelled a major financial crisis by jailing at least 16 bankers and nationalizing 13 banks. Radical Chavistas complain that Maduro lacks this type of audacity.
Their critiques raise the question of how to evaluate a government committed to a gradual democratic road to far-reaching change in the context of extreme polarization and conflict. Is a lull in the deepening of change, including compromises with adversaries, necessarily a sign that all has been lost, as those who invoke the term “permanent revolution” often argue?