A Decade of the Chavista Revolution
Hugo Chavez´s Bolivarian Socialist Revolution has been grinding its wheels for over a decade now. He was elected president in 1999 as a social reformer with a national and international plan to form a great united nation as the Latin-American hero Simon Bolivar once dreamed. But the last decade hasn’t gone as Chavez planned. There have been constant electoral battles, the most in any country in Latin America during this time period. Venezuela’s citizens remain heavily polarised over Chavista constitutional reforms, countless nationalisations, power centralisation and a Venezuelan population that is largely dependent on government handouts and social programs that are underwritten by the country´s waning oil exports.
Little wonder: Venezuela’s freedom and openness have suffered heavily during Chavez´s presidency, slipping down in every index, from Freedom House´s democracy index to Transparency International’s corruption index to that of Human Rights Watch. IPN's Institutional Quality Index has tracked Venezuela from 2007-2009, during which time it has fallen from a non-celebrated 164th place to the 171st out of 184 countries.
The Venezuelan Government has ridden the boom years of expensive oil prices and rinsed through more petro-dollars than at any other point in the past 100 years of Venezuelan history. That remarkable windfall could have been used to set an example for the region and the world. But even with growth over 7 per cent in 2003-2004 and despite a heavily-disputed fall in the poverty rate, from 49.5 per cent in 1999 to 28.5 per cent in 2007, Venezuela’s economy is crumbling.
Chavez’s “revolution” has shunned foreign direct investment, driven inflation rates to average over 30 per cent for the last three years, seen oil production collapse by 50 per cent oil production is crippled, made basic and once abundant food products scarce, and rationed basic amenities such as electricity and water. All the while, billions of dollars have been siphoned off to prop up governments and help mimic the “successes” of the socialist revolution. But, based on all the evidence in this document, the rest of the world should think carefully. This is one revolution no one wants to be a part of.