Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

#Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

After Ferguson: What's Broken in America? (part 2)

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Tunisia’s Essebsi ‘personifies old regime’, says opponent Marzouki

Read more

DEBATE

After Ferguson: What's Broken in America?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

David Nabarro, UN special envoy on Ebola

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Tunisia’s Essebsi says ready to form pluralist govt

Read more

WEB NEWS

USA: online reactions to the death of Tamir Rice

Read more

FOCUS

Working with offenders also key to ending domestic violence

Read more

ENCORE!

Man Booker Prize Winner Eleanor Catton

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2013-04-12

Venezuela post-Chavez

Venezuela is on the edge of a new era. When strongman President Chavez lost his battle with cancer in early March, he left behind uncertainty, fear and division. During 14 years in power, Chavez built an army of ardent supporters. But there are many other Venezuelans who see the president's death as a chance to change their country, to end the tight government control of everyday life. Our reporters went to see what a post-Chavez Venezuela might look like.

When we arrived in Caracas in early March, the death of Hugo Chavez had just been announced, and the atmosphere was very emotionally charged. It was common to run into people in the streets on the verge of tears. People who told us they’d owed their livelihoods and homes to the president's social policies. Huge crowds of Chavistas had been bussed into the capital to pay their final respects. They were dressed in red T-shirts  and caps, many from Chavez election rallies of recent years, adorned with his face and slogans. Our hotel was swarming with Venezuelan soldiers wearing Chavez armbands – the army had set up a base there, to manage the large numbers of extra troops bussed in for security at this exceptional moment in the country’s history.

But after the emotion and hysteria of Chavez’ state funeral had passed, we started to hear from Venezuelans with a very different outlook on the regime. Students told us they were prepared to go to prison to fight for more freedom of the press, for the right to demonstrate against the government. We attended a packed press conference by the opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Dozens of journalists and supporters were packed into his cramped headquarters, small rooms accessible thorough a tiny locked door behind a reinforced metal curtain. Capriles openly questioned whether the ruling party had lied about exact circumstances of Chavez’s death for political gain. And residents from Venezuela’s largest shanty town, Petare, told us why they were now voting for the opposition – citing inefficient and unjust public services and soaring violent-crime rates.

We left the country sure that Hugo Chavez’ impact will be felt for generations to come. His huge social housing projects for millions of poor Venezuelans are everywhere, many still under construction. Government-run supermarkets and health clinics have been set up throughout the country. But all this has come at a cost, eating up billions of dollars of the national budget. If ever the price of oil were to drop, economic turmoil would hit Venezuela hard. And as a charismatic, boisterous leader, Chavez had a grip on the public psyche. The shoes of the leader known as ‘el Comandante’ will take a long time to fill.
 

By Catherine NORRIS TRENT , Sylvain ROUSSEAU

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-11-21 National Front party (France)

France’s National Front in the spotlight

With the National Front on the rise in France, our reporters returned to three towns where the far-right party’s mayoral candidates won the most recent local elections.

Read more

2014-11-14 Somalia

Somaliland: A would-be nation state

In the eyes of the international community, Somaliland is an autonomous region in Somalia, on the Horn of Africa. But most of its 3.5 million inhabitants do not consider the...

Read more

2014-11-07 Liberia

Liberia: The daily threat of Ebola

Liberia is one of the countries most affected by the outbreak of Ebola, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Read more

2014-10-31 Mexico

USA - Mexico: A danger-ridden border

It’s one of the most porous borders in the world. Each month, abetted by smugglers working with drug cartels, thousands of Hispanic immigrants try to cross the frontier between...

Read more

2014-10-24 Spain

Why does Catalonia want to leave Spain?

On November 9, 2014, Catalans were due to vote in a referendum on independence. But the poll was cancelled by the Constitutional Court after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s...

Read more