Hugo Chavez's Public Policy Vision for Venezuela: Rooted in the Past, Doomed in the Future?
(11 pages of text)
Hugo Chavez often pointed to Simon Bolivar as the model for his political philosophy, centered on Bolivar's vision of a unified and independent Latin America. In 1998, Chavez ran in the presidential election, on a platform that opposed what he termed the savage neoliberalism of the 1990s. Chavez's speeches in the presidential election campaign emphasized the importance of national sovereignty and economic justice. As president, Chavez passed a new Hydrocarbons Law to enhance the share oil revenue that would be owed to the government; he created a new government-owned bank; he introduced a radical land reform law; and he encouraged takeovers by the government and employees of privately-owned factories. Venezuela sold oil to Cuba at reduced prices in return for professionals, especially doctors who created health missions in many low-income areas. Chavez sought to foment socialist anti-American revolutions throughout Latin America. In the context of this socialist agenda, analysts expected that Venezuela's economy would experience serious challenges in the coming years. The combination of high inflation, fiscal pressure, and slow growth would be a boiling political cauldron in which violent opposition could ferment.
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