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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Washington Week: Focus on Cuba, North Korea

President Obama, lawmakers out of town for holidays but many remain transfixed with US-Cuba thaw, Sony Pictures hack
More

Health Minister Named as Haiti's New Interim Prime Minister

Announcement is part of effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections
More

Kerry: US-Cuba Thaw Will Advance Interests for Both

Secretary of state says 11 million people of Cuba have waited far too long - more than half a century - to 'fulfill their democratic aspirations' and build closer ties with rest of world
More

Cuba's Famed Cigars Get a Foot in Door of US Market

Under new rules to be implemented soon, US will make it easier for some Americans to travel to Cuba and they will be able to return with $100 worth of alcohol, tobacco
More

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More

Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist

In speech to lawmakers, Cuba's president says economic reforms will be accelerated, yet changes will be gradual
More