Chávez: ‘The kingdom of socialism is the kingdom of Venezuela’s future’
The Venezuelan people have spoken. Hugo Chávez was reelected today as the president of Venezuela for the term 2007-2013 with 61% of the votes over the candidate representing Chavez’s opposition, Manuel Rosales.
Who is Chávez and what has he done?
Hugo Chávez has been in power since 1999. He changed the name of the country, its Constitution—changing the length of presidential terms, among other controversial changes—restructured the nation’s Congress, the flag, and even the coat of arms. He has been called a populist, but he prefers to be called a socialist or a communist who follows faithfully the steps of Fidel Castro. His many presidential terms—since he has been reelected several times by calling many referendums—have been characterized by promoting division of classes, violation of private property, increased government involvement by establishing many social programs that aid the poor. His main campaign slogans were: “vote against the devil (referring to President Bush)—against imperialism.”
The meaning of December’s presidential elections
December 3rd was the hope for many Venezuelans to finally wake up from the nightmare they have been living for over 7 years. Manuel Rosales, the favored candidate against Chavez, represented this hope. Rosales was the governor of the second-most important state in the country, who had brought a lot of positive change during his term. Unlike Chávez, who was an unimpressive Army official with no significant merit, Rosales had shown his ability to administer one of the nation’s most important areas rich in oil reserves, but at the same time one of the most challenging to preside over.
Who supports Chávez?
It is perceived that Chavez’s support comes from the poor; however, poverty seems to have only increased and many of the promises that he has made have not been met. So how is it that the poor still support him? Analysts have a hard time evaluating what the public opinion really is, since the government has intimidated those who strongly oppose his political views. Many surveys indicate that Chavez’s supporters like him, because he represents the voice of the poor that previous political leaders have ignored for decades. What many of Chavez’s supporters fail to see is how he has hurt the oil industry and the economy as a whole in addition to polarizing the country into two distinct classes: the upper and lower classes. Chavez has not provided a sustainable economic and social plan that will solve many of the country’s problems. One of the main arguments against Chavez’s administration is that he wants to establish a socialist government such as the one in Cuba, but his supporters express skepticism for such change to completely take place.
Individualism and the Catholic Church in Venezuela
Chavez can be considered a product of the frustration that many poor and middle-class Venezuelans suffered as previous administrations ignored their concerns and did not enforce policies that would have prevented the nation’s economy from collapsing. It seemed as if the traditional parties in power sat back silently as main Venezuelan corporations crumbled in front of the nation’s eyes due to the corruption of a few. This individualism, that first started with the richest has reached people of every class, has resulted in a society that disregards completely the common good and only seeks to fulfill one’s needs and wants—this end justifying their fraudulent means.
Ninety-six percent of Venezuelans are Catholics and, thus, the voice of the Church in this country has always been treated with respect and authority. Venezuelan Cardinals and Bishops have rejected violent approaches to reach a solution and have also called to accept the results of these elections in peace. This pacifism that the Church has adopted in the midst of political and social chaos has disappointed the majority of Venezuelans who strongly oppose Chávez and has, in fact, caused a sentiment of antagonism with the Church. Sadly, the majority of middle- to upper-class Venezuelans who could become government leaders in opposition to Chavez are not practicing Catholics and they do not understand that is their duty and not the Church’s to ensure that a government that safeguards the common good and basic human rights is established.
The kingdom of socialism and the kingdom of God
An ever-growing disappointment and frustration that Venezuelans continue to experience have given room for secularism and skepticism to take deep roots in their morals. Justice will only reign in this nation once Venezuelans can return again to the Christian principles that once founded this country.
It is absolutely necessary for Venezuelans to believe and trust again in the just and loving God who can only bring a kingdom of righteousness and charity—because Chávez got it wrong again. The kingdom of socialism has no place in a kingdom of justice and, therefore, no place in the kingdom of God.