The fate of Venezuela's experiment will be felt beyond its borders, but the dictatorship canard has now been put to rest
Seumas Milne in Caracas
Thursday December 6, 2007
"What happens in Venezuela now matters more than at any time in the country's history - not just for Latin America, but for the wider world. Since the leftwing nationalist Hugo Chávez was first elected in 1998, his oil-rich government has not only spearheaded a challenge to US domination and free-market dogma that has swept through the continent. It has also led the first serious attempt since the collapse of the Soviet Union to create a social alternative to the neoliberal uniformity imposed across the globe. That has become even clearer since the Venezuelan president committed his "Bolivarian revolution" to introducing a new form of "21st century socialism" two years ago.....
But there's little doubt that the fate of the Venezuelan experiment will have an impact far beyond its borders. So far, the cushion of oil has allowed Chávez and his supporters to make rapid progress without challenging the interests of the Venezuelan elite. The dangers of the movement's over-dependency on one man - not least from the threat of assassination - were underlined by the referendum experience. What is certain, however, is that the process cannnot stand still if it is to survive - and to judge by Chávez's response to his first poll defeat, he is in no mood for turning back. We weren't successful, he told the country, "por ahora" - for now."