Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump trumps GOP rivals, French labour law debated in parliament (part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Erdogan continues journalist crackdown, Sadiq Khan elected London Mayor (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Palestinian ‘knife intifada’ reflects a generation's despair

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

The secrets of a pipe maker in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

Philippines: Son of late dictator Marcos leads opinion polls

Read more

#TECH 24

Money from heaven

Read more

#THE 51%

Family planning in Afghanistan: Getting Islamic scholars on side

Read more

ENCORE!

Kevin Costner makes comeback with 'Criminal'

Read more

FASHION

Can Made In France save French fashion?

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

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

2016-05-04 Israel

Palestinian ‘knife intifada’ reflects a generation's despair

For the past seven months, Israelis have faced an unprecedented wave of violence: not a real “intifada”, but a series of almost daily "lone wolf" knife attacks. These are not...

Read more

2016-04-28 USA

The vicious cycle of student debt in the US

Student debt in the United States now stands at over a trillion dollars. And it’s going up, to the tune of 2,700 dollars per second. FRANCE 24 reporters Philip Crowther and...

Read more

2016-04-22 Syria

Exclusive: Interethnic coalition takes on the IS group in Syria

FRANCE 24 brings you a rare documentary filmed inside Syria. Our reporters gained exclusive access to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias, as...

Read more

2016-04-14 Turkey

The forgotten shipwrecked migrants of the Aegean Sea

The Aegean Sea, between Turkey and Greece, is a transit point for refugees fleeing the war in Syria or the Taliban in Afghanistan and trying to reach Europe. But their makeshift...

Read more

2016-04-07 Corsica

Corsican nationalism: The test of power

Last December, Corsican nationalists won a historic and unexpected victory in France’s regional elections. After decades of violence, they now have two years to prove themselves...

Read more