News / Americas

Chavez Opponents Say Venezuela Not Democratic

Chavez Opponents Say Venezuela is Not Democratici
|| 0:00:00
X
Brian Padden
October 05, 2012 2:20 PM
Sunday's election in Venezuela is just days away, and opinion polls are predicting a close race between President Hugo Chavez and his opponent Henrique Capriles. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Caracas that while the opposition is guardedly optimistic, critics charge the process has not been fair and that Chavez has abused his power as president to gain political advantage, punish opponents and intimidate voters

Chavez Opponents Say Venezuela is Not Democratic

Brian Padden
Sunday's election in Venezuela is just days away, and opinion polls are predicting a close race between President Hugo Chavez and his opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski.  While the opposition is guardedly optimistic, critics charge the process has not been fair and that Chavez has abused his power as president to gain political advantage, punish opponents and intimidate voters.

Hugo Chavez

  • 58 years old
  • Gained national attention in a failed 1992 coup
  • President since 1999
  • Ousted by a coup for two days in 2002
  • Started cancer treatment in 2011
  • Vocal critic of the U.S. and supporter of Cuba, Iran, Syria
In Venezuela, government offices and workers are routinely used to support President Chavez's political campaign.

Venezuelan Congresswoman Maria Corina Machado says this is just one example of how Chavez is abusing his power to undermine the democratic process.

“People perhaps think that, because Venezuela has had 19 elections during the Hugo Chavez era, there might be democracy in Venezuela. The fact is there is no separation of powers, no freedom of speech.  There is no respect for private property,” she said.

Machado says Chavez has unfairly dominated the airwaves by requiring TV and radio stations to broadcast his speeches and closing down TV stations like RCTV that voice criticism of his policies.  RCTV lost its broadcast license five years ago and today has only a small staff to maintain a news website.

Henrique Capriles

  • 40 years old
  • Lost 2012 presidential election to Hugo Chavez
  • Governor of Venezuela's second-most populous state, Miranda
  • Jailed in 2002 for fomenting a protest near the Cuban Embassy, later acquitted
  • Was Venezuela's youngest legislator
  • Lawyer by training
  • Descendant of immigrants from Europe
Congressman Carlitos Ortega, a Chavez supporter, denies there is any suppression of dissent.  He says the case of RCTV was not about politics. “For example it [RCTV]  showed pornography. It promoted prostitution after 10 at night. It flaunted young girls on a program called Hot Line in the early evening.  This is not permitted by law,” he explained.

Ortega says other independent stations like Globovision still operate and often criticize the government.

Opposition figure Diego Arria says Chavez illegally seized some of his land after he publicly criticized the president.

“Why do I say this? Because this is a regime that is linked to narco-terrorist groups that one day could be subject to prosecution.  And so it was a process of political retaliation.” Arria said.

Chavez supporters say decisions to seize under-utilized property from rich landowners are made to best serve the public interest, not as a vendetta.

Congresswoman Machado says there is a growing pattern of intimidation that includes the recruitment of militias around the country to protect Chavez's socialist revolution.  She says these abuses of power have helped create an atmosphere of fear that could suppress opposition voter turnout.

“Even though technical people tell us that the electoral system, the automated voting system, grants the security of the vote, almost 40 percent of the Venezuelan population believe the government will know how they vote,” said Machado.

But Congressman Ortega says the opposition is just making excuses because its candidate and his policies are not popular with the people.

“In Venezuela no one is afraid to vote. This is a psychological strategy that the opposition uses to motivate their supporters because Capriles is an awful candidate, and they have abused this strategy to the extreme.” he said.

Sunday's vote may determine the next president but the debate on the state of democracy in Venezuela will continue long after.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Peru's Congress Fails to Ratify Humala's New Cabinet

Key conservative allies withheld their votes, failure underscores president's waning political power as economy slows
More

US Judge Calls Argentina Debt-Swap Plan 'Illegal'

But, Judge Thomas Griesa stopped short of holding country in contempt, saying that would not help resolve dispute that led to nation's second default in a dozen years
More

Brazil Presidential Race Gets One More Candidate

Environmentalist Marina Silva to join contest for Socialist Party candidate; vote to be held October 5
More

Guatemalan General Killed in Copter Crash Near Mexico Border

General Rudy Ortiz was among five people killed; cause under investigation; weather said to have been possible factor
More

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month
More

Pope's Relatives Killed in Argentina Car Crash

Family of pontiff's nephew killed after car plows into truck
More