Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Hong Kong protesters use Firechat to evade censorship

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Does Hong Kong have the world’s politest protesters?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

UMP presidential nomination: May the best man win!

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Peugeot at Paris Motor Show: 'We are recovering'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

US media reacts to Ebola scare

Read more

DEBATE

How to stop Ebola: Centers for Disease Control confirms first case of virus in US (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to stop Ebola: Centers for Disease Control confirms first case of virus in US

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Syrian student risks her life to film IS group stronghold

Read more

FOCUS

The Iraqi TV show where victims confront terrorists

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

2014-09-30 Syria

Video: Syrian student risks her life to film IS group stronghold

FRANCE 24 has obtained rare footage secretly shot by a female student in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State group in Syria.

Read more

2014-09-26 Russia

Video: Crimea's 'Russification' in full swing

Changing nationalities isn’t always easy. Six months ago, in Crimea, people voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, in a referendum that Western powers deemed illegal. Now, the...

Read more

2014-09-19 Algeria

From Sarajevo to Guantanamo, the journey of the Algerian Six

The day after the 9/11 attacks, six Algerian nationals were arrested in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were accused of being terrorists and plotting fresh attacks against the United...

Read more

2014-09-12 referendum

Scotland: On the path to independence?

On September 18, Scotland votes in a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. A "Yes" at the ballot box would mean the end of a union that’s lasted over 300 years and...

Read more

2014-09-05 Iraq

Kurdish fighters on the front line against IS militants

Even as Western powers struggle to put together a coalition to tackle the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS or ISIS), Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq have been battling for...

Read more