Venezuelan governor confronts Chavez

Tuesday 8 June, 2010

I attended this event organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs VENEZUELA: A COUNTRY WITH MORE FUTURE THAN PAST which featured Henrique Capriles Radonski, Governor of the state of Miranda in Venezuela, (in Spanish with an interpreter) who was awarded the Gus Hart Fellowship focused on Latin America.  He opened with a video that was fairly critical of Hugo Chavez.  Radonski beat Chavez’ candidate in the race for governor of the 2nd largest state in Venezuela, which contains 1/2 of the capital city of Caracas.

His speech was continuously peppered with phrases like “not to place blame,” while at the same time pushing his agenda of creating new opportunities, inferring that the current administration is not.  He couched his battle as a generational struggle (3/4 of all Venezuelans are under 40 years old) of fear & threats (Chavez’ platform) vs. hope (Radonski’s platform).  He seeks progress while not placing the blame on anyone for existing problems.  Radonski claims the current government serves itself rather than its constituencies.  His hope is to be the enemy of the privileged & create opportunities for all.  Chavez argument is to pit the poor vs. the rich, but this can’t work.  Chavez falsifies truths & conducts politics based on lies, but if 70% of the country lives below the poverty line, who supports that?

Radonski’s plan to offer progress for all includes focus on:

  • education that is accessible,  offers quality, & is relevant to all
  • a new health network not confiscated by the government
  • security in the form of safe spaces with permanent activities
  • a new housing program which focuses on bringing needed repairs to existing housing stock to minimize the use of resources
  • employment fairs which do not destroy private enterprise

In closing, he spoke of the struggle of communism vs. opportunism.  Radonski said Chavez is obsessed & attacked him for wanting to become president.  Whereas Chavez lives by the credo “Motherland, socialism, or death,”, Radonski counters with a more positive message of opportunity & progress for all.

Q&A (in English)

Venezuelan problems will be solved by the Venezuelan people rather than depending on other (US State Dept) governments

Venezuelan states do not collect their own taxes & are funded by transfers from the federal government.  Radonski’s issue is “how can there be no money when the federal government spends $6B on military equipment?”

Since 80% of people are poor in Venezuela, the problem of poverty must be solved.  The US doesn’t understand this problem fully.  He is fighting for education because that is the path out of poverty & “paths are made by walking.”  He does not mean to be ideological, right wing, or pitch the rich vs. the poor.  He simply want progress & opportunities.


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