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Poverty: The real enemy of Venezuela

By Michael Rowan | El Universal

21.09.05 | Everyone has the enemy wrong in Venezuela. Chavez is wrong that the enemy is the oligarchy. And the opposition is wrong that the enemy is Chavez.

The real enemy is poverty. The conflict for Venezuelans is whether to fight poverty with the Chavez revolution, or to find a more effective way to do so. Venezuela needs a message and a messenger that resolves this conflict for voters.

Under the "enemy paradigm" Chavez proposed and which the opposition readily accepted in 1998, and since, Chavez has won nine elections and lost none. The national assembly elections later this year, and the 2006 presidential elections, are foregone conclusions if the enemy paradigm is not challenged.

Alfredo Keller's polls now show that the nation is split in half, and half again. One half is for Chavez, but it is split by 2 votes solidly for him against 1 marginally for him because they see no alternative to Chavez.

The other half against Chavez is split in half, where for every Chavez hater there is an abstention or a "ni-ni" voter. Under these conditions, Chavez must win.

The key to resolving the conflict and governing effectively in Venezuela is to ignore the half against Chavez and think about the disappointed Chavistas, who comprise 18% of the national vote. Poverty has increased by 10% in the Chavez period, and he is spending billions outside of Venezuela to export his political project. Corruption and waste is rife in his regime.

A solution that simultaneously departs from past politics and Chavez politics, is to attack poverty directly with families and not with the state as intervener, owner or controller. The transfer of state money and power to the families of the nation would resolve the conflict over how to fight poverty. For example, by devoting half the nation's resources to family trust funds, each family would receive a trust fund with capitalization of $100,000 that could yield annual dividends of $10,000 with good management.

Such a proposal would appeal to the barrios because it identifies the real enemy, poverty. If the 18% disappointed Chavistas voted for it, the half that thinks Chavez is the enemy would follow, creating a 68% super-majority for fighting poverty effectively. Even with his contaminated election machines counting the votes, Chavez would have a hard time winning that election.

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