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Thu. April 18, 2024
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Venezuela: The Changing Tide
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By Adam Kott Hugo Chavez’s tide of recent political defeats indicate the people of Venezuela may be turning on their once adored leader. Opposition parties won 5 of 23 local positions this past weekend in an election that was hailed as a victory by both sides. While Chavez’s party retained seventeen governorships, the ruling party lost control of the mayorship in Venezuela’s most populous city, Caracas, and the governor’s seats of the two most populous states. Many hailed this vote as the possible turning point in Chavez’s rule, but the long-term effects will remain to be seen. Nonetheless, loss of support in the country’s most populous regions signals a crumbling constituency for the nation’s president. Chavez retained solidarity from the support nation’s rural population, but many of Venezuela’s urban citizens voted against the ruling party due to rising crime and government corruption. President Chavez, who suffered his first political setback last year in a failed bid to increase his political powers, has faced tough times recently. Many international organizations have criticized the Venezuelan government for oppressing political enemies. Over 300 candidates were illegally banned by the government from running in the November 23 elections. Furthermore, the drop in oil prices has created a panic amongst politicians for fear that they will not be able to meet government programs. Venezuela’s budget was passed when oil prices were rising and thought to remain high. Since the budget was passed oil prices have dropped by nearly half, which bode trouble for a government budget that relies on oil revenues to fund its budget. While Chavez has already made a public statement acknowledging the victory of his opponents, the president left the public with a threatening statement that alluded to using force if he is undermined, "If you allow the oligarchy to return to governing, maybe I will end up taking my tanks from the armored brigade to defend the revolutionary government." The future of Venezuelan politics is unknown, but Chavez may take a more militant stance in achieving his goals if the downward trend of popular support continues.

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