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Chavez “Forced To Reduce Speed Of March”

From his disappointed (but still loyal) fans at the Associated Press:


Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (R) walks next to Miranda’s state governor Diosdado Cabello in front of a mural of revolutionary icon Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara during his weekly broadcast ‘Alo Presidente’, outside Caracas January 6, 2008.

Chavez puts brakes on radical change in Venezuela

By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez vowed Sunday to tackle everyday problems from soaring crime to trash-strewn streets, adopting a more pragmatic approach to governance and toning down his revolutionary rhetoric a month after a stinging electoral defeat.

Voters in December rejected a radical overhaul of Venezuela’s constitution that would have greatly expanded Chavez’s powers and enshrined socialism. Chavez acknowledged his government would have to review its priorities.

“I’m forced to reduce the speed of the march,” Chavez said, urging new members of his Cabinet to “accept reality” and “put their feet on the ground.”

This will be the year of the three R’s: Revision, rectification and relaunching,” he said…

“The problem is not an abstract ideology, it’s putting it to work,” said Steve Ellner, a political science professor at Venezuela’s University of the East. “The ideologues have to demonstrate the ideology can work.”

Ellner expects Chavez to shelve “ambitious schemes that may be criticized as impractical,” such as building offshore cities similar in design to oil platforms in the Caribbean Sea.

Instead the government is turning its attention to entrenched problems such as high crime and rampant corruption — which some say Chavez has failed to correct nine years after he was first elected.

Polls show that rising crime rates — among the highest in the Western Hemisphere — are a leading concern for Venezuelans. The Justice Ministry reported 9,402 homicides in the country of 23 million in 2005 but has yet to reveal complete figures for 2006 or 2007.

“Insecurity and corruption, they are inherited evils that we must stop cold and not allow to continue expanding. If we don’t stop them, they become the biggest enemy of our revolution,” Chavez said Sunday during his weekly radio and TV show. “I call for us to fight more successfully against these scourges.”

Venezuela also faces challenges such as a 22.5 percent annual inflation rate last year — the steepest in Latin America — and shortages of staples like milk, eggs, sugar and beef that have prompted consumers to question the government’s economic policies, including price controls.

Others complain of bumper-to-bumper traffic that clogs the streets of Venezuela’s increasingly chaotic capital, as well as ineffectual garbage collection in Caracas and other major cities.

“In a socialist country the streets cannot be filled with trash,” Chavez said.

Most socialist countries can’t afford the luxury having trash, let alone streets full of it.

Of course this is what always happens with dictators. They promise the moon, but then quickly find excuses for why they can’t deliver on any of their promises.

Yet they are always somehow still able to build up their Swiss bank accounts.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, January 7th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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