Category Archives: Venezuela

Chávez Reduces Working Week From 44 to 40 Hours

Chávez announcing new labour regulations
Source: El Universal

The new labour law that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced today will reduce the working week for Venezuelans from 44 hours to 40 hours, among other measures. Chávez says that companies will have up to one year to comply with the new measures. The improvement of labour conditions is an obvious priority for Chávez as part of his vision of ‘Socialism of the 21st Century.’ Labour regulation across Latin America is generally weak, leaving workers open to abuse and some of the highest working hours in the world. With the Venezuelan economy struggling, however, now might not have been the best moment to impose new regulations.



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Chávez Accuses Opposition of Links to Drugs Trafficking

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles
Source: Gulf Daily

The Venezuelan government has announced that it has dismantled a network that was involved in laundering drugs money, and that several prominent members of the political opposition are implicated. According to the Minister of Justice Tareck El Aissami the group handled approximately $10 million and set up a number of front organisations to hide their activities. He said that investigators have suspicions that Enrique Salas, the governor of Carabobo, and Morel Rodríguez, the governor of Nueva Esparta, were involved in the network

Although it is difficult to know whether or not the accusations have any grounding, they come at a point when domestic criticism of the Chávez government is increasing. Recently Chávez has spent more time in Havana than in Caracas due to the treatment he is receiving for cancer. Henrique Capriles, the opposition candidate for president, has criticised him for ruling the country through his twitter account. Accusations of government involvement in drugs trafficking and manipulation of the judicial system made by former judge Eladio Aponte last week also called into question the honesty of the Chávez administration. The whole thing smells suspiciously like an attempt to discredit the opposition before the upcoming presidential elections in October.




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Hugo Chávez: The Absent President

Source: Reuters

Hugo Chávez is again in Havana this week to receive treatment for the cancer that was first diagnosed in June 2011. During the last five weeks he has only spent ten days in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, and yet he has refused to delegate any responsibility to his vice-President, Elías Jaua. He has instead opted to run his government from his hospital bed in Havana using a phone calls and video conferencing. Chávez still has not revealed which type of cancer he is suffering from, nor what his prognosis is. Non-official sources claim that Chávez is very severely ill, but the government has dismissed those claims as efforts to discredit him before the elections in October. Chávez’s insistence on continuing to govern while seriously ill highlights his obsession with retaining power at any cost. Whether he recovers to retake the presidency or not, Venezuela’s short-term well-being depends on him delegating power while he makes a recovery.

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Welcome Home Hugo

Having just returned from Cuba after a third major operation in the last year, Venezuela’s dogged President Hugo Chávez greeted crowds today in Caracas. His precarious health raises serious questions about Venezuela’s political future. With the presidential elections approaching in October, what does the future hold?

If Chávez makes a recovery and continues to lead the country until 2030, as he says he will, then we can expect much of the same. Aside from the questions about whether Chávez can govern while in a hospital bed in Havana, there have long been questions about the sustainability of this policies and the questionable means by which he achieves them. Problems such as high inflation, capital flight and low foreign direct investment are only likely to get worse as Chávez deepens his reforms.

If Chávez dies then there is no clear mechanism in place to select a successor. The likely result would be one of the following: the emergence of a strong man with close links to Chávez, the collapse of the Chávez project and the rise of an opposition candidate, or a military coup. Chávez’s neopopulist style has created a serious problem; a strong reliance on petrodollars and a consistent lack of reform or institution building raises serious questions about whether chavismo can survive Chávez.

If the opposition triumphs in October it will face very serious obstacles. The opposition is fractured and holding iself together for now in a loose coalition without a strong structure or leadership. The opposition would inherit a country stricken with conflict, and such division would be difficult to overcome once in power and faced with the reality of the situation.

Of the alternatives, the triumph of the opposition in the October elections would seem to give Venezuela the best chance in the near future, before Chávez can inflict any further damage.

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