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Round of questions about Venezuela

By Alexandra Beech,

Venezuelans love to eat arepas and discuss politics. As shocking as it is, even Venezuelan eight-year olds have strong ideas and feelings about our current crisis. Today, I’d like to leave aside my opinions and ask a few questions that deserve special attention.

1.) Recently, Chavez said that he had shown former American President Jimmy Carter evidence of 28 instances where the opposition committed fraud during the signature drive. How did Chavez obtain copies of the signatures, when only the country’s electoral authorities have access to them?

2.) The electoral authorities should have completed the verification of signatures in 30 days. Why are we on the 49th day and still waiting?

3.) Why have senior electoral authorities been fired after the opposition denounced irregularities in the validation of opposition-collected signatures?

4.) According to “Lethal Weapon” actor Danny Glover and (accused double-murderer) Don King, racism is at the root of Venezuela’s problems. Why didn’t racism surface as a central issue at the start? Why is Chavez playing the race card now, just as he has lost support among traditional parties and organizations in the United States and Europe? Why aren’t there prominent civil right leaders in Venezuela fighting for the rights of all races?

5.) Borrowing this question from an American journalist who visited Venezuela, how is Chavez a leftist, when the country’s leftist parties (Bandera Roja, Communist Party, Socialist Party) and leftist intellectuals (Teodoro Petkoff, Luis Miquilena) have abandoned his “revolutionary” project?

6.) How will the government manage and distribute the $300 million that banks can now lend for agricultural projects, after the Central Bank reduced reserve requirements? What specific projects will be financed with that money? Who will follow the money, to ensure that it lands in the hands of farmers? What is behind the sudden urge to implement agricultural programs? Why hasn’t the government revealed specific projects?

7.) When will the opposition reveal its post-Chavez plans?

8.) Who will run against Chavez?

9.) How will the Chavez government afford to finance the new flurry of social programs in the long run?

10.) Do American leftists love Chavez because of his social programs or because he hates Bush?

11.) As the United States heads towards elections, American politicians will take a firm stand on Cuba. Where will they stand regarding Chavez, who is financially supporting Castro, as reported by the Wall Street Journal (2/3/03)?

12.) Are Chavez and Castro picking up where the Che Guevara left off in Bolivia, transforming the social problems of its indigenous community into a rebellion that Bolivia neither wants nor needs?

13.) Experts think that Bolivia is too small to matter in hemispheric issues, but couldn’t instability in Bolivia be the entry point for crises in more strategic countries, such as Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia?

14.) Why is Venezuela's oil being given for free to Cuba?

15.) And for our guest question, Proveo President Aleksander Boyd asks: Pedro Carmona Estanga has been criticised [rightly so] endlessly for having dismantled all branches of power in his brief walk through the presidency. How does Hugo Chavez stand in view of the following: On December 22, 1999, a week before the new Constitution was enacted, the Constituent Assembly decreed a "transition regime' which ceased the functioning of Congress, legislative assemblies and all other public powers. Then, arguing that the new Constitution had yet to take effect (it had been approved already five days earlier in a referendum on 12/18/99) it created a National Legislative Committee, named the new members of the Supreme Court, the people's Defender, the Attorney General, the National Electoral Commission and the Comptroller. In none of these cases were the procedures established by the new Constitution followed. How is Chavez different from Carmona?

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