Hugo Chavez is often referred to in the U.S. as one of the most dangerous politicians in Latin America. As the President of Venezuela, he regularly acts against the Washington Consensus by implementing alternative models of economic development and social changes in the name of democratic socialism.
The United States has long been critical of Chavez’s efforts to nationalize several key sectors of the economy. Many accuse him of systematically eliminating dissent and stomping on democratic principles by removing members of the opposition from office.This arguement has been bolstered by more recent announcements.Chavez plans to dissolve atelevision station critical of him andwants the power to “rule by degree” for a years time.
Nonetheless, Chavez has many supporters in Venezuela and Latin America. He is seen as a champion of the poor and embraced by anti-imperialists in the region. He advocates cooperation among Latin American countries and has given new hope to the people of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Argentina by offering hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid. He has also provided discounted oil to dozens of countries including Cuba, Nicaragua, and the U.S.
The United States accuses Chavez of subverting the region. With allies like Libya, Iran, and long-time confidant Fidel Castro, he is often labeled as a significant threat to the safety and sanctity of the U.S. Furthermore, he is accused of squandering the country’s oil on shortsighted programs.
Can socialism sustain itself, even if temporarily, in a 21st century global economy? Is Venezuela a threat to the United States? Are Chavez’s massive changes dismantling or creating stability for Venezuela? Does the United States have anything to do with the region’spoverty, high unemployment rate, and lack of social programs? Is President Chavez the voice of the poor?
Join us this week at Café Society and tell us what you think of Hugo Chavez and the future fate of Venezuela.
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For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.