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    Venezuela Elections: What is at Stake? Two Competing Perspectives

    By José Hernández

    Over the last thirteen years a new Latin America has emerged. After much bloodshed and many years of struggle against imperialism and for self-determination, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and other leaders in the region were elected to power when people went to the polls to reclaim what was rightfully theirs: their homeland.

    In that sense, the upcoming presidential elections in Venezuela on October 7, 2012, represent a point of no return on the Latin American scene. The United States knows this, and therefore they are fully present, launching attacks from all sides with the support and to the satisfaction of various sectors of the Venezuelan - especially the right wing - opposition.

    This election is about the self-determination of the people of Venezuela and Latin America, as against the submission of the right wing to foreign interests, particularly the United States. The right wing, which does not have the approval of the majority, has allied itself with the U.S. and their Interference in Venezuela, in an attempt to destabilize the country before the October elections. With this in mind, they have launched their main campaign and agenda: to distort the facts, sabotage the government reforms and create confusion among the masses in order to justfy military intervention in Venezuela by the United States.

    The interest of the imperialist super power in Venezuela is well known: Venezuelan “black gold” - the oil that they used to get for little more than $7 a barrel, for which they must now pay twenty times more than that paltry figure. Given this, the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has not hesitated to promise the privatization of the nationalized state oil company PDVSA.

    In these elections the people will decide if they want to manage their natural resources and invest the profits for their own benefit, or if they want to give it away as they did 13 years ago before President Chavez came to power. The electorate knows the impact that this oil money has had on educational, social and economic progams which have dramatically improved their quality of life. That is why Capriles, led by his advisers, strives to say he will keep these programs. However, for years he has been advocating that it is "dangerous" for the economy to "spend too much money on these things."

    In his speeches, in which he makes an exaggerated and even laughable effort to imitate President Hugo Chávez, Capriles offers what the President has already given so far. But if he privatizes PDVSA, where is he going to get the money to keep these programs running?

    Although the campaign has not formally begun, Capriles has visited various parts of the country trying to "reach" the people. But while Chavez marked International Workers Day with the announcement of a government employment support program, enacting a new law that guarantees stability for workers, Capriles said in an interview that he was not going to march on May 1st, because, "in any case, he is an employer" - let us remember, he is the governor of a state in Venezuela.

    Capriles claims that he is an equal of the people, but recognizes himself as an employer, as a bourgeois gentleman set apart from the Venezuelans whom he says he will represent. Today in Venezuela, pensioners earn a salary like that of an active worker, and housewives too are acknowledged as workers. However, Capriles shows confidence in the current prevailing worldwide model based on new liberalism - cutbacks on welfare for the poor and added privileges for the rich, as is happening in Europe, the U.S. and all around the world.

    But it is time. The great powers are in crisis and Latin America is emerging with increasing independent force, for dignity and independence. A new cociousness based on economic and social equality and self-determination is growing. A union of countries for cooperation has been born. Latin America is like a snake which it shedding its skin, but is still fighting to get rid of the old scales from which it is suffocating.

    *José Hernández is a young activist and journalist from Venezuela

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