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Chávez reelected in Venezuela

by DoDo Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 04:54:58 AM EST

Unless all the polls lie, today [Sunday, 3 December], Venezuela's President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías will be re-elected for another six years with a wide majority. On the occasion, I thought I'll post

  • an update of the graphs from my Venezuelan Boom diary of last year,
  • to show how much Red Latin America became, post a list of Central and Southern American leaders with links to earlier ET diaries.

Update [2006-12-5 7:24:24 by DoDo]: Check the Official vote count page. Presently, they show the vote 91% counted. They say turnout was 75%. Chávez increased his lead to 62.57%, vs. 37.18% for main opponent Rosales. Chávez leads in all 24 states of Venezuela, including Zulia state, where Rosales was governor.

- promoted from diaries - whataboutbob

Venezuelan Boom update

The first graph is GDP growth, for this year, projected.

Chávez came to power at the very end of 1998, just when oil proces collapsed in the wake of the Asian Crisis. In 2002/3 was the big fight with the opposition and the oil strike. Since then, massive growth. For this year, planned was 5%, now it looks like it will be twice as much.

Note: most of it comes from the non-oil sector (in Q3/2006, 11.7% vs. 0.9%; allegedly due to maintenance, the product of the private oil sector even decreased 11.4%), and from the non-government sector (in Q3/2006, 12.3% vs. 2.7%). But the latter is fuelled by government orders: there is growth in all economic fields, but strongest in particular construction. I'd say Chávez's policies are more Keynesian than socialistic.

Above is the Puente Orinoquia, or Second Orinoco Crossing, a combined road-rail bridge for traffic to Ciudad Guayana and on to Brazil. It was opened on 13 November 2006 by Chávez and Brazilian President Lula da Silva (second photo). But much of Venezuela's public works spending goes for public transport projects, primarily subways (lines in Caracas, Valencia and Maracaibo were hastily opened during the campaign). Venezuela is also about to start a massive expansion of railway lines, both for freight and passengers.

I note Chávez has at last discovered green energy as a theme. In the framework of the 'Energy Revolution Mission', a massive programme to replace light bulbs with energy-saving ones was started, and after Chávez saw a similar programme in Vietnam(!), a programme of solar-powered streetlights [PV cells + storage batteries].

Balance of goods, goods+services, and goods+services+capital is positive, thus reserves increase. Debt generally still increases on nominal value (though both external and internal debt decreased in the second quartal), but decreases as percentage of GDP (now well under 40% in the broadest measure -- the EU can only dream of this).

Now let's look at the graph for GDP, as well as per capita GDP [my own calculation from official population numbers], with the pre-chavez year 1998 as 100%:

Per capita, this year, the overall development through Chávez's presidency just turned positive. Meagre, but as strange as it sounds, in the last 40 years, there was only one other longer period without decrease in this measure: the turbulent second Carlos Andres Pérez presidency (early 1989 to 1993), which after a big IMF-advised depression and a Gulf War oil boom, ended about zero per capita growth. But with a big increase in poverty.

As for poverty under Chávez, here is my third graph, showing the ratio of households in poverty (relative measure) and extreme poverty:

Note, these are numbers without taking social services into account, which would reduce the figures with a further few percentage points.

On the low point, 12-month inflation reached a record low of 10.4% in May, but during the campaign, has climbed up again to near 16% since.

On the media front, the Chávezista state TV -- opposition private media standoff continues, the Election Commission criticised both campaigns for numerous violations. Chávez's rhetorical excesses also reflect in some caudillo-talk with Alan García of Peru. I'm not sure anything significant has been done on the corruption front and in regulating police and military.

Chávez announced a few months ago his intention to call for a recall vote on himself mid-term, and if he wins that vote, he wants a referendum on voiding limitations on the number of Presidential terms.

Red Latin America

Below is a list of the current Central and South American leaders, their elections, and ET coverage if there was one. If you can do a better color map than mine, feel free to do so, I'll insert it!

President Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa (neoliberal), vs. counter-government by Andrés Manuel López Obrador (left)
Elected 2 July 2006 [single round election]
ET coverage: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

PM Said Wilbert Musa/People's United Party (Christian Democrat)
1998 [single round parliamentary election]
5 March 2003 [single round parliamentary election]

President Óscar José Rafael Berger Perdomo (center-right)
28 December 2003 [2nd round]

El Salvador
President Elías Antonio ("Tony") Saca González (right)
21 March 2004 [1st round]

President José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales (liberal)
27 November 2005 [single round election]

President José Daniel Ortega Saavedra (left)
5 November 2006 [1st round but not absolute majority]
ET coverage

Costa Rica
President Óscar Rafael de Jesús Arias Sánchez (neoliberal)
5 February 2006 [one round]

President Martín Erasto Torrijos Espino (fake centre-left->centre)
2 May 2004 [1st round but not absolute majority]

President Álvaro Uribe Vélez (right)
26 May 2002 [1st round]
28 May 2006 [1st round]

President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (hard left)
6 December 1998 [1st round]
30 July 2000 [1st round, new constitution]
15 August 2004 [recall referendum]
3 December 2006?
(Some ET articles of note: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

President Bharrat Jagdeo (centre-left)
11 August 1999 [appointed mid-term]
19 March 2001 [backing party again largest in single-round parliamentary elections]
28 August 2006 [backing party again strongest in single-round parliamentary elections]

President Ronald Runaldo Venetiaan (centre-left)
25 May 2005 [single round election]

President Rafael Correa (hard left)
26 November 2006 [2nd round]
ET comment

President Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez [ex left-populist->centre)
4 June 2006 [2nd round]
ET coverage: first round, second round

President Evo Morales (hard left)
18 December 2005 [1st round]
ET coverage

President Óscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos (right)
27 April 2003 [one round]

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (centre-left)
27 October 2002 [2nd round]
29 October 2006 [2nd round]
ET coverage

President Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas (centre-left)
31 October 2004 [1st round]

President Néstor Carlos Kirchner Ostoic (centre-left)
27 April 2003 [1st round, 2nd round not held as opponent declined]
28 October 2007?

President Michelle Bachelet Jeria (centre-left)
15 January 2006 [2nd round]
ET coverage: 1, 2.

Blind maps, I want blind maps!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 03:36:13 PM EST
by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 03:43:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good diary with great photos (especially of the railways), thanks!

Of the graphs, some lack the development of the last few months or seem to use outdated data. But this one I found very valuable, on the development of the income of various income brackets (I looked for this, but only found a reference, to data of an opposition-aligned institute negating Western media claims that the rich benefit most.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 03:56:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil wars is obviously pro-chavez, but there are some very good posts with information found nowhere else.

I find this one about taxes "what really pushes their buttons" a great insight.

Venezuela might remain one of the few countries that were able to remove the small band rich  profiteers of their natural ressources without violence.

Remaining problems of the country are:

  • violent crime rates
  • lack of credible opposition
  • still too much poverty (but schools will pay off longer term).
by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 04:06:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil wars is obviously pro-chavez, but there are some very good posts with information found nowhere else.

With the full US media mostly functioning as anti-Chávez propaganda outlet, I have no problem with that, I can 'filter' any bias in there. I just wanted to indicate my article is more up-to-date on some data :-)

Remaining problems of the country

Agreed about your list. I'd add the military. Regarding Chávez's armament programme, I again found an article by War Nerd instrutive -- Chávez is apparently still afraid of disloyalty in the ranks. Another is Chávez's caudillismo -- he apparently thinks himself indispensable, but for a sustained change (a 'real revolution'), things should go on without him. And he should listen to his diplomats to be less crude in foreign policy statements (and I don't primarily mean rhetoric towards the US, but some other South American and other Third World countries).

Then there is tackling corruption and police criminality. And from my left-of-Chávez viewpoint, the joint ventures he started (especially in the oil business) seem senseless waste of money, and he should listen more to trade unions on his side, and be more socialist than Keynesian. (BTW, ironically, the opposition nowadays prefers to attack Chávez with quasi-leftist points, but even if for then that's a cynical ploy, I think there are some valid points here.)

But overall, I judge Chávez's Presidency positively (as can be suspected from the diary text). Less so due to his person, more because I think he is 'damned to deliver'; he recognises that with a opposition strong and mass-mobilised (even if stupid and self-defeating), and no possibility to gain control over all armed state organs for himself, he can only stay in power by serving the majority and thus ensuring their support long-term. (BTW, many forget that he began to call himself Socialist only after the oil strike.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 06:53:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that Oil Wars quarterly GDP growth graph shows the major damage the PDVSA lock-out did to the venezuelian economy.
by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 03:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To Laurent GUERBY: sorry I forgot to say, but better a hyperlink than posting the image (hence I deleted that comment).

But, could you find a 'more blind' map than that one, one without rivers and city names making fill-up with a color dificult?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 04:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never mind, I just found one. Soon the map will appear.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 04:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can get blank maps from wikipedia.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 03:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, there are only maps of the Carribean and national maps. Maybe on the Spanish Wiki?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 06:12:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, I'd appreciate if some Spanish-speaker could look through the sites of Ministry of Finance, the National Bank statistics and the Statistical Institute to find up-to-date monthly statistics for the budget deficit, or just press reports of the same. (So far I only found data until June on the first site.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 03:47:35 PM EST
NYT article:

 "For all of Chávez's faults, his government has been extremely pragmatic in economic terms," said José Guerra, a former chief of economic research at Venezuela's central bank. "State-supported capitalism isn't just surviving under Chávez," he said. "It is thriving."

Often lost in the campaigning between Mr. Chávez and his electoral challenger, Manuel Rosales, is that Venezuela, with the largest conventional petroleum reserves outside the Middle East, is having one of the most significant oil booms in its history. Economic growth this year is set to pass 10 percent, making Venezuela the fastest-growing economy in the Americas.

The Chávez government, while wrapping itself in socialist imagery -- like red clothing -- and deepening its alliance with Fidel Castro's Cuba, has made this expansion possible by quietly working with Venezuela's banking system. The rush of petrodollars into the economy has led bank deposits to climb 84 percent in the past 12 months, according to Softline Consultores, a financial consulting business here.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 05:03:03 PM EST
BTW, hard on Vernezuela's heel in economic growth is Argentina.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 05:11:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't follow Argentina, any data?
by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 05:26:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
9% last year, expected to be 8% this year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 05:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From wikipedia:

By 2002, Argentina had defaulted on its debt, its GDP had shrunk, unemployment was more than 25%, and the peso had depreciated 75% after being devalued and floated. However, careful spending control and heavy taxes on now-soaring exports gave the state the tools to regain resources and conduct monetary policy.
In 2003, import substitution policies and soaring exports coupled with lower inflation and expansive economic measures, triggered a surge in the GDP. It was repeated in 2004 and 2005, creating millions of jobs and encouraging internal consumption. Capital flight decreased, and foreign investment slowly returned. The influx of foreign currency from exports created a huge trade surplus. The Central Bank was forced to buy dollars from the market, and continues to do a various times today to be accumulated as reserves. It does this to prevent the argentine peso from appreciating significantly and cutting competitiveness.

The situation by 2006 was further improved, largely as a result of recently discovered oil fields in Patagonia. The year is on track to match the large GDP growth of the last three (predictions are between 8.5% and 9.0%), though inflation, estimated at around 10 to 12%, has become an issue again, and income distribution is still considerably unequal.[20][21] In a variety of reports, internationals organizations criticize Argentina for remaining a somewhat closed economy.

In 2002, 57,5% of the population was below the poverty line, but the last report of August 2006 showed a 31,4% poverty level. Similarly, unemployment was more than 25 percent, by July 2006 it was 10.2 percent. GDP per capita has surpassed the previous pre-recession peak of 1998 in PPP, but still lags in nominal GDP, mostly due to an undervalued currency. The economy grew 8.9 percent in 2003, 9.0 percent in 2004, and 9.2 percent in 2005. As of 2006 foreign debt stands at 68 percent of GDP and is slowly decreasing.[22]

Starting from zero plus new oil fields :)

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Dec 3rd, 2006 at 05:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like Venezuela.

I guess for the standard bearers of the Washington Consensus, it is hard to swallow that the two South American countries most clearly cutting with neoliberalism show similar upturn...

BTW, the Wiki article seems not to reflect Q3 data, which showed a minor slowdown (hence my 8% prediction).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 06:05:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they're only concerned to the extent that Wall Street isn't stealing those profits.

It's increasingly becoming clear to me that there is only one dynamic driving the US establishment. It's certainly not democracy, and it's not economic growth.

It's simply domination for its own sake. A poor country dominated by the US, even if it has to be broken, is better than an independent rich one.

There is no other game being played here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 07:30:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fernando Rouaux, had an article in Znet summarizing much of Argentinian economic history, in which he has this to say about the ways in which Chavez is useful to Kirchner (and for similar reasons I assume, to Lula as well):

...The presence of president Hugo Chávez in the region is one of many factors that favours Kirchner in the current international conjuncture. On the one hand, Chávez has been replacing the international financial institutions in a way, functioning as a source of capital without the conditionalities that the Bretton Woods institutions usually impose on borrowing countries. The availability of foreign cash without the imposition of onerous conditions is a political luxury for any Argentinian president; one that provides a degree of stability and space to manoeuvre that no one would have imagined even five years ago. On the other hand, the presence of Chávez makes Kirchner, from the White House perspective, particularly useful as a force of "containment" of Chávez; as someone who can dialogue with him and convince him to moderate his actions.

With Chávez on the political scene, Kirchner is seen as the "responsible left," while the same policies that Kirchner is carrying out now would have probably been considered extremely left and openly hostile to Washington just five or ten years ago, when the political landscape in Latin America showed Washington-friendly regimes all over the map. The same can be said (at least so far) of the Bolivian president, Evo Morales. The election of Evo Morales in Bolivia increases the strategic importance of both Kirchner and Lula in the region, figuring them as moderate regimes with which Washington can have a direct dialogue (though of course another Menem or Cardoso would be more to their liking). The support of the Bush administration for both Lula and Kirchner is, then, guaranteed, as long as there are other "threats" in the region. Washington's support is not the only benefit Kirchner enjoys from the presence of Chávez and Morales in the region: they lend him the "implicit threat" of radicalization and realignment with the Cuba-Venezuela-Bolivia axis.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 07:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IN Venezuela.. there is a strong oil trickle down that Chavez ahs alloweed.. despite not being hint he oils ector, the growth can be aprtly due to ti.. adn the multiplicative effect of fresh money and investing this money.

Argentina started from underzero..  with no important mega-boom in any particular sector.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 06:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Argentina has the benefit of a mostly educated population, if i got their history right.
by Torres on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 12:10:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 01:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From CNE:



10:00 p.m. El candidato presidencial Hugo Chávez obtuvo 5 millones 936 mil 141 votos, (61,35%), y Manuel Rosales 3 millones 715 mil 292 (38,39%) de los votos escrutados

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 02:58:27 AM EST
To DoDo - excellent work on your election coverage, and I really appreciate all the work you have put in on the Latin American overview. Thank you!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 05:03:34 AM EST
Chavez wins re-election by wide margin (From SF Chronicle):

With 78 percent of voting stations reporting, Chavez had 61 percent to 38 percent for challenger Rosales, said Tibisay Lucena, head of the country's elections council. Chavez had nearly 6 million votes versus 3.7 million for Rosales, according to the partial tally.

Final turnout figures among the 15.9 million eligible voters were not available but an official bulletin of partial results showed it at 75 percent, making Chavez's lead insurmountable.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 05:05:12 AM EST
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 09:10:39 AM EST
Welcome back :)
by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 03:52:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that will keep things interesting on the world stage. The world needs a few characters abrasive to the US.
by observer393 on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 09:48:22 AM EST
Well that will keep things interesting on the world stage.

Because the world has been, like, so boring the last few years.

But Chávez does have a rare talent for annoying people who need to be annoyed and he doesn't seem to be doing too badly for the people who elected him.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 09:58:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He certainly has delivered to the majority of Venezuelans and as long a she keeps doing this it doesnt matter how much money the US pours into the so called privately owned free press of Venezuela, or how many political movements the US directly funds as it did with Yushenko's orange block before, Chavez will kep winning. I wonder why he doesnt change the law so it becomes illegal for politicians to take foreign money to campaign like in the US. Actually just think how big Chavez majority would have been without all the US money the opposition candidate used, and even with that Chavez still has his biggest victory ever. Quite an accomplishment.
by observer393 on Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 11:14:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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