Why the need for Friends of Venezuela?
As we launch the FoV campaign, the first question that pops in most people’s minds is: why? Why a campaign geared at providing accurate information and contextual analysis about an allegedly democratic country? The answer is rather simple, Venezuela is no longer a democracy.
In a democracy, the will of the majority, expressed through elections, provides constitutional legitimacy to elected officers, who count on popular mandates to exercise their powers freely. In a democracy, people’s representatives elected to Congress are expected to exert a degree of control over the executive, providing that most important democratic tenet of checks and balances. In a democracy, it is an accepted convention that the judiciary must act independently of other branches of power, in order to guarantee full adherence to the rule of law. Alas none of this exists in Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez’s rule.
In addition to President Chavez’s absolute control of the judiciary and the legislature, the military and the economy are completely under his thumb. President Chavez has spent, at his own discretion, more than $33 billion in weapons, triggering a regional arms race, even though Venezuela has not seen armed conflict at a national level since the 1820s, and is currently not threatened by any other nation. President Chavez has, unilaterally and without consultation, associated Venezuela with terrorist organisations, rogue regimes, extremist leaders and communist dictators. By suspending counter narcotics cooperation with international drug enforcement agencies, President Chavez has allowed Venezuela to become the launching pad for Colombia’s drug production, 80% of which now enters international markets via Venezuela, according to the UN. World Bank figures show that President Chavez’s administration has raised more than $1.8 trillion dollars since 1999. That amount is greater than the combined GDP of the previous 8 administrations, between 1960 and 1999. Alas Venezuela, a country of 28 million, continues to be plagued by poverty, food shortages, rampant crime, sub standard education, power black outs, undernourishment, and decaying infrastructure, issues that President Chavez swore to solve. It is worth putting that figure into context: it is the equivalent of more than 15 Marshall Plans.
Hence the need for the FoV campaign. For we believe that Venezuela must return to its democratic path, and become, once again, a beacon of hope and freedom in the region.
Join us. Spread the word. Support our work, wherever you may be. Venezuela deserves better.