Thursday, July 31, 2008

Venezuela - The Bolivarian Revolution at the Crossroads

The defeat of President Hugo Chavez in the referendum last December marks an important turning point in the Bolivarian process, which began more than ten years ago.
Following this defeat a crucial choice arises: to accelerate the process towards a socialist society or on the contrary to prefer the status quo by centring the revolution solely around the image of the president. After thirteen electoral victories in a row, the defeat in December was a body blow for the whole of the Bolivarian Left. For the first time in ten years, the Venezuelan people had expressed its disapproval, in spite of the widely-recognised gains of the revolution. In a country which is the fourth world exporter of oil and which has the greatest oil reserves in the world, oil is a very powerful financial weapon. The profits generated by PDVSA (the state oil company) make it possible to finance the “missions” of the revolution. Among the most important are those concerning education: The Robinson mission aims at teaching illiterates how to read and write. The Sucre mission gives access to the university to students that the former republic had excluded. To this end, a Bolivarian University has been established and located all over the country. It functions parallel to the traditional Venezuelan universities, of which the best known are the Central University of Venezuela (in Caracas) and the Andean University (in Merida).

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