revolusi demo venezuela

Topics: Venezuela, Democracy, Elections Pages: 16 (4145 words) Published: November 23, 2013
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the UK and Ireland

Context Paper:
REVOLUTIONIZING DEMOCRACY IN VENEZUELA
Venezuela has always been considered the ‘exceptional case’ in Latin America. 1 While its neighbouring countries were struggling with revolutionary uprisings, “guerrilla warfare” and violent conflicts throughout much of the last century, Venezuela was blessed with regular elections and a stable government. The world was shocked in 1989 “You can

when violence afflicted the country; people in masses took to the 1
invent
streets and demanded democracy in their country. What had
happened to Latin America’s “model democracy”? The truth is there anything you
was no democracy in Venezuela. It was a “masquerade democracy”; a want in order
“democracy” for the wealthy elite; a “democracy” that left millions of to criticize
poor Venezuelans outside the democratic process and thrust to the Chavez, but
back.
you can’t

accuse him of

When Hugo Chavez took office in 1999 he made it a priority to suppressing
establish a democracy for all Venezuelans, not just for a select group democracy."
of privileged ones. Reforms were carried out to deepen democratic processes, to assure that elections were free and fair and to enable the President Lula
active participation of all citizens in the building of their democracy. da Silva
In fact, the key word in Venezuela today is ‘participatory democracy’, a democracy where all citizens participate, no matter if they be rich or of Brazil
poor. Within the last ten years, Venezuela saw voting centres extended into poor areas, saw indigenous peoples and women become political protagonists and establish their own Ministry of People’s Power, saw medical centres and educational institutions expand into marginalized neighbourhoods, saw extreme poverty fall from more than 20 to 9.5 percent, and much more. In fact, President Lula da Silva of Brazil said about the Chavez government is that ‘you can invent anything you want in order to criticise Chavez, but you can’t accuse him of suppressing democracy’ 2 . Historical Glimpse

Those who looked beneath the surface of Venezuela’s long lasting ‘model democracy’ were quick to discover that the situation on the ground left much to be desired in terms of a real democracy. After the fall of the dictator Marcos Perez-Jimenez in 1958 the country’s two major political parties, Democratic Action (AD) and the Social Christian Party (COPEI) entered into an agreement to share cabinet positions and the control of state institutions no matter who won the elections. This pact, which became known as “Punto Fijo”, took away the opportunity for any other party to run candidates for office against AD and COPEI. This situation lasted until 1998. Third parties were marginalised and in some cases even banned. 3 1

For more information on this particular event compare “The Caracazo: The revolutionary turning point”

-1-

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the UK and Ireland

The voting system of this period was based on hand counts of paper ballots - a system that was easy to manipulate. “AD and COPEI officials would lead the vote count, and blatantly divide up third party votes between themselves before adding them to the official tally. The two parties were so powerful that they made no effort to hide this process, which was commonly referred to as ‘acta mata voto’ or ‘the tally trumps the vote’” 4 Furthermore, the National Elections Authority, with the responsibility of overseeing elections, belonged to the executive branch and was committed to the party in power. Independent audits of the elections were never carried out and it is no wonder that Venezuelans believed their vote would be a useless gesture. Apart from that, many Venezuelan citizens, and especially the poor ones, were excluded from voting, as they did not possess national IDs as a means of voter identification. They were further disadvantaged through...
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