It is achievable that Chávez invented 21st century democracy, to attract a phrase from William Ospina (1). If that statement appears incorrect in these moments, that is due to the fact, when all over again, the suitable path to tread is the a single that goes versus the existing.

Cast in the battle in opposition to armed forces dictatorships, the democratic political forces of the 20th century wanted to be civil and representative. They ruled according to the guidelines recognized in an elite pact, at the company of money (fundamentally oriented towards the worldwide market place) and subordinated to the interests of US imperialism.

Chavismo burst on to the scene as soon as that elite pact entered into a mortal crisis, toward the finish of the 80s and starting of the 90s. A crisis that was in turn immediately similar to the profound financial and social influence from the conclude of the materials enlargement period of the accumulation cycle of the Venezuelan oil marketplace, as outlined by Malfred Gerig (2), for the duration of the 1970s.

The finish of the 20th century would be witness to an alliance of civil and military services forces that proposed that the time had come for participatory and protagonist democracy. The Bolivarian Revolution would be characterised by its national and well known orientation, even when it opted for the socialist route (it would hardly ever be a subservient, “Sepoy” socialism). Despite the fact that it would have to deal with the violent opposition of the elites who had been displaced from political electric power, the strength and character of this alliance, which would warranty the sturdy support of the well known majorities, would make it attainable for the Bolivarian revolution to observe the tranquil and democratic route.

It is exactly the latter that Ospina highlights in the report he wrote immediately after the death of President Chávez: “what a higher sense of respect for fellow citizens of a nation that, even in the midst of the fiercest variances of belief, does not sink into sectarian violence and in a massacre that has cyclically characterised some of its neighbors. For the previous fifteen yrs, Venezuela has lived, not in a condition of polarization, as some declare, but in the passionate politicization that characterizes moments of fantastic historical transformations.”

It is true that, in standard terms, Chávez’s time in electricity coincided with a new, albeit brief, phase of the material expansion of the cycle of capital accumulation in Venezuela, but it was not a basic and fortuitous coincidence, in spite of individuals who check out to describe that interval employing the hackneyed cliché of the abundance of “petrodollars”.

A brief digression: the hermeneutical damage developed by the abuse of the aforementioned topic is incalculable, to the point of owning turn out to be just one of the most significant epistemological obstacles to understanding the Chávez knowledge.

There was fortune, but also virtue, as the Brazilian André Singer has published relating to Lula da Silva, in his extraordinary assessment of Lulismo(3). Virtue and fortune. Among the the virtues of Hugo Chávez in the presidency, two of them ought to be highlighted: on the a single hand, the democratization of the distribution of oil rent to start off spending off the enormous social debt, which fundamentally indicates a decision to significantly modify redistributive guidelines even prior to an plentiful availability of means, a fact contrary to what is regularly claimed. And on the other hand, the determination to introduce structural changes in the overall economy, slowly developing the disorders to move from a hire-trying to find financial system to a successful style.

Referring to the Bolivarian procedure, Ospina pointed out, “No a person can overlook the importance of what is happening, no a person can ignore the enormity of the urgent troubles it has faced, the enormity of the options it has tried.” The “historic magnitude” of all this consisted of obtaining been “fulfilled in a local weather of peace, respect for daily life, in just the framework of institutions, and in accordance with high rules of humanity and dignity.”

It is similarly real that 10 decades right after these words were written, the prevailing political local climate is 1 of dispassionate “depolarization,” which is associated to the close of the temporary period of the material growth that accompanied Chávez, but higher than all to societal collapse that ensued. A collapse that predominantly influenced, as was rather predictable, the residing problems of the popular classes in a quite severe way but also, in a incredibly regressive way, the foundations of the economy, the way of carrying out politics, the cultural conquests from the starting of the 20th century (restoration of national dignity, course satisfaction, etc.) and the country’s geopolitical positioning.

There is maybe no clarification far more important than the subsequent: stated collapse is far from staying a historic fatality. There is no this sort of thing as a “foundational defect” in the Bolivarian approach, in the perception that this sort of an outcome was unavoidable, as a certain historiography postulates. On the opposite, the collapse is due to the traumatic and distressing interruption of the intriguing democratic experiment led by Hugo Chávez.

Of study course the require for a frank discussion is required, and more than that, crucial, on the many results in of explained interruption and the variety of agents involved, on their increased or lesser accountability or bodyweight, on the order in which the occasions occurred, etc.

What we cannot allow ourselves, in my opinion, is to act as if this interruption has not transpired. It is our obligation not to compromise with the situation of those people who, to cite Ospina, purport to ignore the significance of what we have accomplished, the enormity of the problems we have confronted and the solutions we have attempted.

It is intolerable, for instance, to see the levity with which anti-Chavismo refers to the unsuccessful attempt to lay the foundation for a successful overall economy, blaming “Chávez for not completely carrying out in 10 several years the extremely foundation and diversification that they did not even attempt in 50 yrs”, as the Colombian writer remembers. This is in the best of situations, mainly because frequently that statement is replaced by the hackneyed anti-communist rhetoric, full of references to the alleged violations of sacred economic liberties that are at the root of the recent predicament.

As for the ruling social gathering, there will be these who affirm that the state carries on to shift towards socialism, in spite of the actuality that, considering the fact that there is no other alternative, it has experienced to enter the labyrinth of the most orthodox monetarism. There are even worse scenarios, which are not really worth mentioning here.

It could be that Hugo Chávez left a great number of clues so that, in scenario we acquired misplaced, we could locate a way out: “We are struggling to defeat inflation, and we will defeat it. But not at the charge of the hunger of the workers, not at the charge of the hunger of the folks.”(4) But it also could be that this is not plenty of. Before he was Ariadne, Chávez was Theseus, but not Theseus the mythological hero. If Chávez was ready to get out of the labyrinth, it is since he was usually section of a collective Theseus. These days, that Theseus need to be reunited with the interrupted thread foremost out of the labyrinth.

Reinaldo Iturriza López is an activist, writer, and sociologist with a diploma from Venezuela’s Central University. He is the creator of numerous textbooks, including 27 de Febrero de 1989: interpretaciones y estrategias and El chavismo salvaje.

Iturriza López, father of Sandra Mikele and Ainhoa Michel and Venezuelan baseball enthusiast, is a former Culture Minister and Communes and Social Movements Minister. He also headed the Audiovisual Manufacturing Faculty at Ávila Television. He writes frequently for the blog Saber y Poder.

Translated by

The views expressed in this write-up are the author’s very own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial employees.


(1) William Ospina. Chávez: una revolución democrática. El Espectador, 9 de marzo de 2013.

(2) Malfred Gerig. La Larga Depresión venezolana: economía política del auge y caída del siglo petrolero. CEDES – Editorial Trinchera. Caracas, Venezuela. 2022.

(3) André Singer. Os sentidos do Lulismo. Reforma gradual e pacto conservador. Companhia das Letras. Sao Paulo, Brasil. 2012.

(4) Hugo Chávez Frías. Acto con motivo del Día Internacional del Trabajador. Caracas, Venezuela. 30 de abril de 2008.


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