Chavez copycat vs. US poster boy: ‘Either way prospects not good for Venezuela’
Acting President Maduro is currently riding a wave of
Chavez-style socialism, but is lacking in the charisma that allowed
his predecessor to maintain his power base for so long. And while
his challenger Capriles has pledged to change the face of
Venezuelan politics, many fear that his presidency would leave the
country open to US imperialism. Venezuelans will go to the polls on
Sunday to choose their new leader following the death of Hugo
Chavez on March 5.
RT:We know that Nicolas Maduro vowed to continue Chavez-style socialism, but can he bring anything new to the country?
Adrian Salbuchi: It’s going to be very difficult for him because the demise of Hugo Chavez left a huge vacuum in Venezuela and if anything we have to look at it objectively: Hugo Chavez did not have many new ideas of his own. His main power base was his extreme charisma, he has been a very attractive and popular populist leader. Although he did not bring much new to the table, in actual fact, he had to go backwards in time to more traditional socialism, his main asset was that he was so popular and such a forceful leader throughout Latin America and the rest of the world, and that is one of the main problems that Nicolas Maduro has, he does not have the same popularity and charisma.
RT:Will Maduro ever be able to fill Chavez's shoes? Does he possess the same charisma and popularity?
AS: He fares rather well, although very far behind Hugo Chavez. What he is doing is surfing on the Hugo Chavez wave, and that’s why he is using the memory and image of Hugo Chavez, the actual ideas and discourse that he gave the people. But Nicolas Maduro himself really has no special personal power base that he can fall back on, that’s why it’s really Hugo Chavez that’s really in the election through Nicolas Maduro, so to speak.
RT:Have Chavez-era policies been successful for the country or not? AS:
Well, there’s a lot of debate about that, the economic policies have been good for the lower class in the sense that he has redistributed very fairly and very extensively oil export dividends and funds with the lower classes, but the middle class has been very strapped for a various reasons. There’s a lot of regulation, and business has not done so well in Venezuela because of the fact that rather than venture on to a more revolutionary true socialist scheme in Venezuela, he has limited himself, Mr. Chavez, to redistributing oil wealth. So the policies inside Venezuela have not been that good. He is very highly respected in Latin American, however, for his very shrewd and independent foreign policy which has really been the pride of Latin America over the last decade.RT:Let's talk about the second candidate now, Henrique Capriles. He wants to create a free-market economy but is that something Venezuelans want? AS:
Some do, some don’t. Some Venezuelans are definitely tied in with the interests of the US, and Mr. Capriles Rodonski is not only tied in with the interests of the US, the corporate interests and even the governmental interests. He is also very tied in with Zionist powers, especially in Israel. He is very well seen in Israel, he is very well seen by the International Jewish Congress and other international Zionist organizations, which as we all know move a lot money globally. So in that sense the fact that he is promoting a free capitalist ideology for Venezuela would have the effect of bringing in a lot of international capital into Venezuela, but Venezuela will cease to be the country it is now.
RT:Would a turn towards capitalism, as Capriles wants, be good for the country? AS:
In every country people are very short-sighted. They want their own personal situation to improve starting next Monday. But if you look at it not short-term but rather long-term, Hugo Chavez and hopefully Maduro have done a very good job for Venezuela and the region in the long term, something that I am sure that Capriles would not because he would completely align Venezuela and bow to US requirements and banking and global financial interests.RT:Capriles said that he wants better ties with the US – would that lead to Washington dominating and even dictating Venezuela's domestic policies? AS:
Absolutely, they tried to do that exactly eleven years ago when on April 11 and 12, 2002, they staged a coup d’état where Mr. Capriles was one of the key people. He was only too young then and that’s why they chose another guy by the name of Pedro Carmona, a businessman who only lasted 48 to 72 hours. But Mr. Capriles is definitely the face of Washington inside Venezuela.
I wouldn’t be too sure. No doubt the incumbent Mr. Maduro has a lot going his way. But either way the prospects are not good for Venezuela because if Capriles wins there will be a complete realignment in favor of the US, and if Maduro wins, which is the most likely outcome, I wouldn’t be surprised if America tried to engineer a Latin American Spring starting in Venezuela.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.