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THE LEFT IN VENEZUELA 4/7/2010. Democracy Direct or Participatory Democracy, Pure democracy Active citizen participation in everyday political decisions;

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Presentation on theme: "THE LEFT IN VENEZUELA 4/7/2010. Democracy Direct or Participatory Democracy, Pure democracy Active citizen participation in everyday political decisions;"— Presentation transcript:


2 Democracy Direct or Participatory Democracy, Pure democracy Active citizen participation in everyday political decisions; authority is delegated to citizens Representative Democracy Citizens elect politicians to represent their interests in the political structure; politicians are held accountable for their actions both through the democratic structures and through periodic elections. Delegative Democracy The President is elected and thus has formal democratic legitimacy; however, this individual then acts – as the delegate of the people – largely beyond institutional constraint and bypassing representative structures.

3 Turning Left: Brazils Path The Workers Party (PT) forms in 1980 as the voice of new unionism The PT does not participate in the behind-the-scenes dealing during the transition to democracy (1985) The PT organizes and wins local political positions Internal democracy Participatory governing structures

4 Turning Left: Brazils Path Success at the local level builds and the PT gains more and higher political positions The election of Lula to the presidency in 2002 Issues of scale: broadening of the number of groups that form the party base Issues of scope: broadening of the number of issues the base expects the PT to deal with competently

5 Turning Left: Brazils Path Attempts to deliver social change without alienating either the public or the market Market instability surrounding Lulas election pressured his commitment to continuing previous macroeconomic policies and respecting IMF agreements Reduced pensions (apx. 30%), wages (apx. 12%), and social programs (apx. 10%) – initially Since Lula took power, Brazil's social spending increased to 17 billion reals ($8 billion) in 2005 from 6 billion reals in % of GDP (approx. 50 billion USD) set aside to meet foreign debt payments Lula repaid Brazils IMF loans early – in 2005

6 Turning Left: Brazils Path Bolsa Familia Direct cash transfer program, R$15-$95 (US$7-$45) per month 94% of the funds reach the poorest 40% of the population Most of the money is used to buy food, school supplies, and childrens clothes Inexpensive and has a real impact on the lived experience of its 46 million recipients Poverty fell 27% during Lulas first term in office Income inequality fell by 4.6% from 1995 and 2004 Does not address the root causes of poverty and may increase dependence on the state

7 Venezuela

8 Turning Left: Venezuelas Path 1982: Chavez, with two other military officers, organizes the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement 1992: Failed coup against Carlos Andres Perez. 1994: Chavez receives a presidential pardon and is freed from jail. Organizes the political party, the Fifth Republic Movement. 1998: Democratically elected to the presidency (56% of the vote)

9 Turning Left: Venezuelas Path 1999: Announces a referendum to decide whether to draft a new constitution. 88% of voters say yes to a constitutional assembly and elections are held to elect members. Chavez establishes the ANC to write the Constitution; during the next year the ANC declares judicial and legislative emergencies, stuffing the judiciary with Chavez supporters and constraining Congressional action

10 Turning Left: Venezuelas Path The constitution is ratified (71%) in Dec. and Chavez is reelected under the new constitution. The name of the country is changed to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Switch from bicameral to unicameral legislature Creates the position of Vice President Social and Human Rights guarantees (education, healthcare, minority rights, etc.) Removed control of the army from the legislature and vested it in the President; the military is given a role as an active participant in national development Allows the President to dissolve Congress in times of crisis Extended presidential term from 5 to 6 years Allowed the incumbent president to seek a consecutive second term Provides for national presidential recall referendums

11 Turning Left: Venezuelas Path 2000: Chavez is reelected (59%) and his party gains control of the National Assembly. The Enabling Law is passed, allowing the President to rule by decree for one year on economic, social, and public administration matters. Chavez will approve 49 laws by decree, including measures on land reform and the oil industry 2001: General strikes begin mostly centered around the state oil company (Petroleos de Venezuela). Strikes will turn violent in : Opposition military coup and Chavez is taken into custody. Massive street protests force the military to back down and reinstate Chavez. Plan Estratégico Social: aims to broaden social rights, reduce income inequality, and promote collective and public ownership; establishes missions as the means of organizing reforms targeting universal education and health, and food distribution Urban Land Committees redistribute and formalize land deeds

12 Turning Left: Venezuelas Path 2003: Opposition forces begin a recall petition. The petition is rejected twice on technicalities, leading to public unrest. A compromise is reached and the referendum is allowed to proceed. 2004: Chavez wins the referendum (58%) Organic Statute of the Supreme Tribunal allows Chavez to pack the Supreme Court with his supporters 2005: Opposition forces boycott midterm elections, leaving Chavez supporters in control of all 167 National Assembly seats PetroSur and PetroCaribe oil alliances are formed to provide subsidized oil to friendly South American and Caribbean countries

13 Turning Left: Venezuelas Path 2006: Chavez announces he will seek reelection; though only his 2 nd term under the new constitution, seeking a 3 rd term is unprecedented in Venezuelan history. Wins with63% of the vote (62% voter turnout) 2007: Congress grants Chavez the right to rule by decree for 18 months Radio Caracas Television (an opposition media outlet) is labeled a threat to the country and its public broadcasting license is revoked Attempt to amend the constitution to rescind Presidential term limits, among other measures to increase executive power, is narrowly defeated 2009: a renewed attempt to end Presidential term limits is successful; Chavez will stand for reelection in 2012 Water, power, and food shortages become more significant

14 Turning Left: Venezuelas Path 2007: Constitutional referendum to end Presidential term limits fails Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Venezuela agree to establish the Banco del Sur as an alternative to the IMF and World Bank, funded largely through oil revenues. 2009: Constitutional referendum ends presidential term limits succeeds (54%) The army is sent to occupy key air and sea ports, centralizing control over transportation Chavez announces budget cuts (6.7% or $5billion) to offset falling oil revenues

15 Venezuela v. Brazil Area: 912,050 Sq. Km. Population: 29,303,518 (2009) GDP (PPP): $355.2 billion (2009, CIA) GDP/capita: $13,200 (2009, CIA) Current Account Deficit: US$ -673 million Inflation: 13% Social Spending as % of GDP: Health: 2.3% Education: 3.2% Poverty ($2/day): 32% GINI: 49.1 Unemployment: 23.9% Area: 8,511,965 Sq. Km. Population:194,747,347 (2009) GDP (PPP): $2.024 trillion (2009, CIA) GDP/capita: $10,200 (2009, CIA) Current Account Deficit: $US -32 billion Inflation: 4.4% Social Spending as % of GDP Health: 3.6% Education: 4.2% Poverty($2/day): 22.4% GINI: 60.7 Unemployment: 16.5% VenzuelaBrazil Statistics from: Country Watch, Inc., 2010

16 Questions What accounts for variation between Leftist governments in Latin America today? Is the left good, bad, or neutral for democracy? for global political stability? What impact does scale have on the feasibility of leftist political structures?

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