MARACAIBO, Venezuela – Opposition candidates who said they sat out the 2005 elections for the lack of confidence in the National Electoral Council could take advantage of decreasing approval rating for President Hugo Chávez’s administration.
Elections to select the next members of the National Assembly, a unicameral legislative body controlled by members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), are scheduled for Sept. 26.
Polling company Instituto Venezolano de Análisis de Datos (IVAD) reported in February that 66.8% of Venezuelans reject communism.
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s recent comments during an interview last week with journalists from Venezuela’s official government channel, Venezolana de Televisión, confirmed the stance of Chávez’s opposition.
“Socialism is communism ... which Marx himself defined as communism,” Castro said.
Miguel Salazar, a journalist for the newspaper The Truths of Miguel, said there’s a long list why Chávez’s popularity is dwindling. Salazar cites Chávez’s poor handling of nationwide electricity rationing earlier this year, his severing of ties with Colombia and the discovery of large quantities of rotten food belonging to government-owned food distribution network (PDVAL).
PSUV candidates aggressively are campaigning in low-income neighborhoods in Caracas and other major Venezuelan cities to regain the support of those who have been disillusioned by the government’s policies.
“Walking around these communities is necessary because some media don’t want to show the reality of the advances of the revolution,” Tania Díaz, a PSUV candidate for Caracas to the National Assembly, told Noticias24.
Her party is proposing a new way of government in Venezuela, called “the people legislator,” by which citizens, organized in communes, legislate based on a community’s needs.
“What we have to do,” Díaz said, “is to adapt the laws and the structure of the state to what is already happening in the streets.”
But voting seems to be the only way to keep communism at bay in the Andean nation.
“I called this a conscious vote,” José Karkom, candidate to the National Assembly for the state of Trujillo by Alternativa Unidad Democrática, a coalition of opposition parties, told the Venezuelan daily Diario de los Andes. “Because conscience is what we have to hear when we elect our congressmen. Beyond political parties, democracy should win for the opportunity to change the direction of our country, which right now is submerged in lack of personal security, lack of employment and a growing inflation. We have to think about the future of our children so we can vote with conscience.”
Tomás Guanipa, a congressional candidate from the opposition party Primero Justicia representing the state of Zulia, said the opposition seeks to depoliticize the legislature and start working for the people.
“We will arrive at the National Assembly ready to work, provide balance, speak and legislate with a view towards solving the problems of the people, which are the most difficult social situations which every citizen in the country experiences," said Guanipa in an exclusive interview with Infosurhoy.com. “Let's stop talking about politics and start using Parliament for what it was made for - to answer to the people.”
Guanipa stressed the importance of legislating regarding the recentralization process occurring under the current administration. In recent years, it has stripped away jurisdiction from other officials, specifically governors and mayors, when it comes to making decisions regarding ports, airports, roads and hospitals.
“In this respect the Democratic Alternative of the new National Assembly intends to defend principles that are very important including the preservation and enforcement of the Constitution,” he said. “Basically, the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela states that Venezuela has a federal and decentralized form of government where each state is entitled to have their own government and income in order meet the needs of the people. All this is being destroyed by legislation that the current administration has been adopting, along with the Federal Council of Government, which proposes an end to the decentralization in Venezuela and which, coupled with the Communications Act, leaves the other government branches in a kind of limbo.”