News / Americas

Chavez Opponents Say Venezuela Not Democratic

Chavez Opponents Say Venezuela is Not Democratici
|| 0:00:00
X
Brian Padden
October 05, 2012
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Crash

Police say singer was alone in his jaguar when he hit a post before sunrise Thursday
More

NY Times: US Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Declines

Obama has come under increasing pressure from immigration advocates who have accused him of moving too slowly on immigration reform
More

Argentina's Fight with Bondholders Reaches US Supreme Court

The case concerns whether investors can force banks with which Argentina does business to disclose information about the country's non-US assets
More