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Column 091012 Brewer

Monday, September 10, 2012

Democracy Remains at Risk in Venezuela's Upcoming Election

By Jerry Brewer

Next month, on October 7, Venezuelan voters will have the opportunity to choose between Hugo Chavez [58] and his failed Bolivarian system of government, or a youthful 40-year-old named Henrique Capriles. Capriles, a lawyer, past congressman and a former mayor of a municipality of Caracas, stepped down from his post as Governor of Miranda State last June to run for the presidency.

The critical distinction between the two rivals clearly indicates a Capriles switch from the Chavez doctrine of all sectors of the Venezuelan society, such as businesses, churches, farmers, schools and similar entities, cooperating to achieve goals defined by the central government.

A no nonsense Capriles, at a rally in the eastern state of Monagas said last week, "I challenge the government; let us debate our ideas of government anywhere in the country." With just one month to go before the presidential election, the challenge to President Hugo Chavez regarding the nation's problems seems to be falling on deaf ears -- but answered in insults.

Researcher Lidia Lerner of the Kantor Center, who specializes in antisemitism in Latin America, states that "Chavez and his supporters take advantage of Capriles' Jewish origins in order to vilify him and to warn of the dire consequences to Venezuela if he wins. This is done by a variety of methods, such as defamation, intimidation and conspiracy theories, many of which portray Capriles as a Zionist agent, and by mixing classic and neo-antisemitism. A Capriles victory, it is claimed, will inevitably lead to Zionist infiltration."

Without a modicum of diplomacy in his veins, Chavez last February 16, at a medical graduation ceremony in the State of Vargas, said of Capriles, "It doesn't matter how many times you change your costume, low life; your pig's tail still shows behind you as well as your pig's ears. You snore like a pig. Well, what am I saying? You are a pig. Don't try and hide it."

Capriles, obviously not intimidated by Chavez's vociferous recriminations, said "the only debate that interests Chavez is an exchange of insults. Do you hear the government candidate making proposals? No, he wants to save the planet Earth, he wants to save humanity ... and who's going to solve our electricity problem?" Capriles challenged Chavez to discuss the housing situation and the plight of those left homeless by natural disasters, and who are still living in shelters today.

Chavez has probably inflicted more lasting structural damage on Venezuela's political institutions, economy, and people than any other President in Venezuela's history.

Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has essentially been destroyed by the Chavez leftist regime. This to a company that generated over 90% of the country's foreign exchange earnings, with around 100,000 employees. As well, Chavez's incompetence has allegedly led to "over $50 billion of financial debt to this institution."

Opponents indicate years of frustration in understanding and getting the facts on the flow of Venezuela's oil wealth. Many believe that Venezuela's number eight standing in oil-producing in the world should be "benefiting (Venezuela) handsomely from high oil prices."

Venezuela's massive military expansion, with purchases of armaments including aircraft, tanks and an AK-47 arms factory, are examples of the opposition's rationale. Chavez's emerging nuclear aspirations are continuing voter's doubts in Venezuela's future under Hugo Chavez.

And Chavez's personal wealth has grown considerably.

Critical concerns demand answers and facts on further acts of Chavez deceptions and hidden agendas, such as whether Venezuela is willfully violating international prohibitions against aiding Iran's illegal quest for nuclear weapons and uranium. What about the assertion that the Chavez regime is making good on his commitment to provide gasoline to Iran to help it circumvent sanctions?

Furthermore, corruption has dominated the Chávez government as never before in Venezuela's history. Chavez rode to victory on an electoral promise to eliminate corruption in government.  This promise was no doubt the one that was most decisive in his victory brought forward by a deceived and gullible electorate.

Close to 19 million Venezuelans are eligible to vote on Oct. 7, to decide between Chavez and Capriles (while there are seven candidates representing different parties, the race is between the two frontrunners).

Some private polls show the two candidates in a very close race. This affirmation validated by a handful of pollsters, among them Hernández Hercón and Predicmática, which give the opposition's candidate a four-point lead over the president. Chavez answered, "What is going to happen here is already written. At this point there is no doubt of who will be the winner."

A proud and freedom loving people of Venezuela deserve no less than fair elections and a true accounting of the Venezuelan government. Hopefully and mercifully, a world audience will scrutinize and monitor the election process from now through the election on October 7. The proud but suffering Venezuelans need change and must demand accountability and transparency from the Chavez regime.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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