Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Pornography without borders is key benefit of EU, says French MEP

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

Comments

COMMENT(S)

 
 
Archives

2014-04-11 Algerian presidential elections

Is Algeria’s civil society mobilising?

Algeria goes to the polls on April 17th with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika vying for a fourth term. Yet the ailing 77-year-old president, who spent most of past year in hospital...

Read more

2014-04-04 United Nations

Rwanda: The last genocide of the 20th century

On April 6 1994, the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down by a missile. Within a day, the country was gripped by a murderous wave of violence. Between...

Read more

2014-03-28 World Cup

Worked to death in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

Every day Nepalese workers venture to the Gulf States in search of a better life. Some of these workers will not survive. Those who do receive little or no wages and are given...

Read more

2014-03-21 Sahara

Mali's peace caravan

In Mali, thousands of civilians are still displaced in neighbouring countries. In an effort to encourage their return, musicians have organised a huge caravan crossing the Sahara...

Read more

2014-03-14 Syria

The inside story on when Assad crossed the ‘red line’

A chemical weapons attack targeted the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013. The West threatened air strikes in response, and Syria agreed to destroy its chemical arms stockpile....

Read more