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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chavez's triumph: implications for Venezuela and beyond

Amid serious doubts in mainstream media, particularly in the west, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has comfortably won his fourth re-election. What does this mean, after all?

The impending elections in US this time may not have garnered as much attention as the ones when George Bush was contesting Al Gore back in 2000. Yet they are frequently in news headlines all over the world in one pretext or the other. 

Yet elections in some other parts are also very significant, both nationally and internationally. The re-election of Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner late in 2011 and the victory of Lula successor Dilma Roussef in the 2010 polls in Brazil were some of them.

Now, one more election result has been added, that of Venezuela. As expected, Chavez has won his re-election in an election which has seen his main competitor decently accepting defeat and congratulating him.

The implications of the victory are manifold. To name the few:

1. Leftists are yet to stay in power in South America despite the realization thatnot every promise made by the leftist leaders seeking election has been fulfilled.  

2. While Chavez may not be the ideal pro-poor leader with sustained viability he is definitely one whom the poor in Venezuela cannot afford to loose.

3. Even though the mainstream media, particularly in US loathe and contempt 'Chavismo' as a mortal threat to democracy, deride and defame it and wish for its earliest demise, the political landscape inside Venezuela is different, notwithstanding the fact that the opponent of Chavez has also garnered a significant proportion of votes around 44%.

4. While Chavez might have been responsible for  stunted economy, rising crime and the increasing polarization of society as mentioned in the LA Times article, many Latin American countries like Honduras where US had silently backed a military coup as late as in 2009 are faring far worse.

5. While those in the right regularly lambaste at Chavez for "sprinkling the oil money all over", so long as it is workable, it could be a very potent rival economic model to the one advocated, promoted and often forced into the developing countries by the instruments of so called Washington consensus like IMF and Word Bank. This conclusion can never come from the top composed of elite policy makers but the importance of social safety nets for poor is well realized all over the world. 

6. While many have been depicting Chavez as the Castro-in-making, he has consistently disproved it through reasonably free and fair elections and referendums, one of which he lost with very small margins.

7. Finally to the utter dismay of those who were praying for the victory of the ominous cancer over Chavez's health, he has outsmarted the former for the time being. Same cannot, however, be said of following years. 

To me, Chavez's victory was pretty much predictable and is now welcome. However imperfectly, he has shown that you need not go to the extreme of destroying individual's political freedom to ensure that the poor get help from the state. Alternatively, following rules of electoral democracy does not always mean bending your knees in front of the MNCs and their bosses in the west as is the rule for most of the developing countries. Yet it is extremely disappointing to note that the whole of Venezuelan experiment revolves around the persona of Chavez and it is pretty unsure what will follow his serious ill-health or death. Hope cancer will remind him that he is not there forever and if the gains for the poor are to be sustained, a system is required rather than a person and he will work towards that direction over the coming years. My best wishes to him. 

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जीवन, खुशी अहंकार

जीवनमा अफ्ठ्यारा घुम्तीहरुमा हिंडिरहँदा मैले कुनै क्षणमा पलायनलाई एउटा विकल्पको रुपमा कल्पना गरेको थिएँ, त्यसलाई यथार्थमा बदल्ने आँट गरिनँ, त्यो बेग्लै कुरा हो त्यसबेला लाग्थ्योः मेरा समग्र दुखहरुको कारण मेरो वरपरको वातावरण हो, यसबाट साहसपूर्वक बाहिरिएँ भने नयाँ दुख आउलान् तर तत्क्षणका दुरुह दुखहरु गायब भएर जानेछन् कति गलत थिएँ !

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