In 1999, President Hugo Chavez transformed the nation into a Bolivarian republic. It's based on "solidarity, fraternity, love, justice, liberty and equality."
He changed it politically, economically and socially. He established participatory democracy.
Venezuela's process shames that of America, Britain, France, and other Western states.
He constitutionally instituted basic social rights for everyone. They include universal health care, education, affordable housing, land reform, indigenous rights, and much more.
Venezuela’s oil wealth is used responsibly. Its elections are free, open and fair. Freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly are institutionalized. So are other fundamental rights sorely lacking or eroding in America, across Europe, and elsewhere.
Venezuela today and pre-Chavez are worlds apart. Venezuelans overwhelmingly approved constitutional reform by national referendum. Everything changed for the better.
Americans can't imagine rights afforded all Venezuelans. Washington's duopoly power condemns them to eroding public services, growing poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, despair, and repression enforcing policy on non-believers.
Reform is a work in progress. Transforming generations of government of, by, and for privileged elites alone takes time.
Venezuela's transformation has miles to go. But it's accomplishments in 13 years under Chavez are impressive by any standard. Most Venezuelans wholeheartedly endorse them. They deplore returning to pre-Chavez days.
Henrique Capriles Radonski is Washington's man in Caracas. He represents money power, neoliberal extremism, and pre-Chavez harshness. He heads the opposition umbrella group Table for Democratic Unity (MUD).
Venezuelan and Western media scoundrels support him. His Primero Justicia party was involved in Washington's aborted April 2002 coup. At the time, Capriles was Baruta mayor. He and other party members were involved.
At a July rally, Chavez told supporters:
"We have made the vital strategic decision that every time there's aggression from the imperialists and the bourgeoisie....we will respond by deepening the socialist revolution."No wonder a Columbia University Earth Institute study called Venezuela South America's happiest country.
On October 7, Chavez and Capriles face off. Voters have final say. After 13 years as president, poll numbers predict another sweep.
Social investment is why.
Around 60% of government revenues go for healthcare, education, and other social and cultural benefits.America's budget goes largely for militarism, imperial wars, homeland repression, internal spying, banker bailouts, corporate giveaways, and tax cuts for rich elites already with too much.
Capriles now serves as Miranda governor. He represents wealth and privilege. He promises a "better Venezuela." He doesn't explain how.
He was born to wealth. He's taken funds from Washington's National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and International Republican Institute (ISI). They tolerate democracy nowhere, including at home.
His campaign endorses market based solutions. Anything government does, business does better so let it, he believes.
Borrowing from Margaret Thatcher's TINA ideology (There Is No Alternative), his campaign highlights "There is Only One Way."
On July 16, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC) headlined "Hugo Chavez is running high in the polls; Venezuela's right plot not to recognize the people's verdict," saying:
Based on International Consulting Services (ICS) June 23 - 27 poll numbers, Chavez holds an overwhelming 25.2% advantage. He leads Capriles by a 59.1% to 33.9% margin.Results show Capriles "badly stagnated in the recent period." It's not surprising. Most Venezuelans deplore returning to the bad old days. Sacrificing Bolivarianism for money power rule is unthinkable.
Asked to evaluate governmental performance, 71.4% rated Chavez positive compared to 28.3% judging him negatively. Heading toward October, he looks unbeatable.
So does PSUV. It's got a 59.9% advantage. Primero Justicia is MUD's strongest coalition partner. It registered a meager 17.9%. UNT got an embarrassing 3.8%. Worse still, Proyecto Venezuela, Copei and Adeco scored 1.8%, 1.8%, and 1.3% respectively.
MUD's combined strength is less than 27%. In December 2005, Accion Democratica (AD), Copei and Proyecto Venezuela withdrew from National Assembly elections. At issue was lack of support. They claimed no trust in electoral legitimacy. In fact, it's beyond reproach.
Perhaps MUD will find reason to back out for equally spurious reasons, or if participants will cry foul when results are announced. Scoundrels who can't win fairly denounce systems rejecting them.
In June, Chavez said he knows of a "hidden" right-wing scheme to "boycott" or not recognize electoral results. On public television he explained that he'll "respond with a lot of vigor (to any) threat to the independence of Venezuela."
He's mindful of preventing an April 2002 repeat. He's likely ready to confront lawless outbreaks if they occur.
ICS also asked respondents about each candidate's "Vision for Venezuela as a country." Chavez scored 67.6% approval. On a related question about how much they knew about his vision, 78% said they were well informed. Most like what they see.
Asked "(w)hich of the two candidates would guarantee the country's sovereignty," respondents rated Chavez 56.2%. Capriles scored 28.4%.
ICS figures are consistent with voter sentiment since July 2011.
IVAD, Datanalisis, Hinterlaces, GISXXI, and other pollsters give Chavez a lead ranging from 15 - 35 points. In response, MUD already refuses to say if they'll respect October results.
Chavez called on Capriles to state his intentions publicly. He said he'll accept whatever results turn out.
Capriles didn't respond in kind. Nor did anyone in his campaign.
According to VSC, refusing "is puzzling given the highly efficient, competent, impartial and clean manner in which Venezuela's Electoral Council (CNE) conducts elections."
Independent international observers rate them highly. They include EU, OAS, and Carter Center representatives.
Venezuela's electoral process shames America's sham system. It entirely lacks credibility. Big money controls it. Voters have no say. They get the best democracy money can buy.
According to VSC, refusing to publicly agree to accept October's results "is particularly worrying, and acquires sinister overtones, when it was this very opposition that formally requested this very CNE to conduct their" February 2012 primaries.
Capriles emerged victorious. Nonetheless, most Venezuelans reject him for good reason. He and those around him deplore "adherence to democratic principles," says VSC.
Pre and post-Chavez, destroying them is policy. Ending Bolivarian change is prioritized. Close ties to Washington are maintained. Millions of covert dollars provide aid.
At issue is replacing Chavez. All options are considered. Destabilization, media attacks, coups, targeted assassinations, and wars are favorites. Covert plots may be planned.VSC believes "undemocratic methods" may follow October's electoral defeat. Rejecting legitimate results, disruptive protests, and perhaps other tactics will be employed.
Despots play hardball. Washington perfected the art. It controls what may play out post-election.
A FINAL COMMENT
As long as he's president and looks certain to win reelection, Chavez is vulnerable.
No tactics are too dirty to defeat, discredit, denigrate, or oust him.His health remains an issue. He had three cancer operations and multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In early July, he told Venezuelans he's "(f)ree, free, totally free" of cancer.
Recovery isn't easy. Reoccurrence can follow remission. Eva Golinger writes often on Venezuelan issues. On May 30, she discussed false reports about Chavez's health.
Since diagnosed with cancer, "all kinds of rumors, lies and speculations" circulated. Anti-Chavez media scoundrels featured it. So do right-wing extremists.
Chavez reported forthrightly about his health, surgeries, treatment and recovery. Evidence shows no metastasis. Many cancer patients recover fully and live long, healthy, productive lives.
Chavez got superb care. He maintains a rigorous schedule. In early July, he began campaigning for reelection. Health issues won't deter him.
"Every day I feel in better physical condition," he said. "I strongly believe that this expression of 'physical limitation' (one reporter used) isn't going to be a factor in this campaign."
He expressed faith for a full recovery. "There are millions of Venezuelans who have reasons to trust me as a person and believe in (Bolivarianism)."
"The revolutionary hurricane begins now. (W)e'll wage a general offensive until 7 October."
Based on consistent poll numbers showing overwhelming support, he looks certain to win big.