Hugo Chávez re-elected
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez’s re-election last Sunday has sparked debate amongst those knowledgeable about his presidency, while those who are uninformed remain unaware of the country’s political situation.
According to political science and international relations professor Julio Carrión, Hugo Chávez has been the president of Venezuela since 1998. He said in 1999, Chávez enacted a modified constitution, which allowed him to run for a second presidential term. Chávez was reelected in 2000 under the terms of the new constitution and again in 2006, he said.
“This is his third election, and, because of a constitutional reform he pushed for in 2009, he can run for re-election as many times as he pleases,” Carrión said. “There are no presidential term limits in Venezuela, but Chávez is ill with cancer, and there is a good chance that he will die in office.”
He said he considers Venezuela a prosperous country with a stable democracy since the return of civilian rule in 1958. However, the government’s mismanagement of the economy and a political system unresponsive to the needs of the poor in the 1990’s produced widespread political discontent, according to Carrión.
He said this dissatisfaction paved the way for Chávez, who ran for election in 1998 on a platform of radical political change.
Junior Doug Kenny said he thinks the Venezuelan people like Chávez because they keep reelecting him, although he is not sure if the election is valid because he thinks of him as a dictator.
“I think 60 percent of the population voted yes for him, as opposed to 40 percent for the other guy,” Kenny said.
He said he thinks Chávez has done both good and bad things for Venezuela during his presidency, but as far as his personality, Kenny said he thinks other countries don’t see Chávez in a very good light.
Carrión said the president’s re-election means more years of authoritarian rule and economic turmoil for Venezuela. He said he believes Chávez is dilapidating Venezuela’s oil resources in order to buy votes, something that could prove to be detrimental for the international economy.
According to Carrión, rulers like Chávez maintain their authority because effective checks and balances do not exist. However, he said they remain competitive because they have to adhere to some formalities, such as elections, to retain international legitimacy. His reelection means a setback of democracy in the region, he said.
Senior political science major Matthew Casale said he has mixed feelings about Chávez’s presidency.
“Personally, he makes me a little bit nervous,” Casale said. “I wouldn’t characterize him as an enemy, but he could potentially be disruptive to the United States and what we do around the world.”
Sophomore international relations major Kirsten Mathisen said she is mostly uninformed on the political state of Venezuela. However, she said she feels the majority of Americans are ignorant of other countries’ government systems as well.
“I know absolutely nothing about the election in Venezuela, but I probably should,” Mathisen said. “We think that governments in other countries don’t apply to us. We don’t care about other people’s elections.”
Kenny said he doesn’t think Americans care a lot about their own presidential elections, so they wouldn’t care about those of other countries. He said it’s important for Americans to broaden their political knowledge so they can understand the reactions people from other counties have to the decisions the U.S. government makes.