Chavez and Modern Caudillismo

According to the Washington Post article, Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez has returned to Caracas after a 10-week hiatus. The newly re-elected leader had been recovering from cancer in Cuba and even missed his own swearing-in ceremony which left the Venezuelan government in “institutional crisis.” Furthermore, his long absence from governing the South American nation riled his opponents and left them pleading for a constitutional foul. However, Chavez’s supporters celebrated his arrival and proclaimed his return to the Venezuelan government.

The Post article and the news of Chavez’s arrival can be directly tied to our lecture from Thursday, wherein Dr.Poska discussed Caudillios and their over-encumbering influence on political life. The re-elected Venezuelan president had used widespread popular support as the foundation for his rule, just as some folk caudillos used popular sentiment among the masses to establish themselves as powerful rulers. Chavez, known to his followers as El Comandante, embodies the caudillo personality because of his charisma and strong populist message. He even managed to stay in power through constitutional disarray and institutional turbulence because of his stacking of the supreme court with his supporters. While these types of rulers often ruled with an iron fist, they were exaulted because of their ability to maintain order. For example, a Chavez supporter, Wildre Colmenares stated, “Things were quite out of control without him. It was time for him to put order to things.” This demonstrates the absolute authority that Chavez rules.

1 Response to “Chavez and Modern Caudillismo”

  • YAY! Chavez is back!
    It seemed like everyone wrote about this. So of course I did as well.
    Chavez was gone for ten plus weeks, leaving Venezuela relative leadership. Many people were displeased at the way the country was governed with out their lovely Caudillo leader. They missed exactly what the Caudillo brings: order and control. Without Chavez, Venezuela had a prison riot that killed 58, a food shortage, and a 32% devaluation of the currency. Was it directly related to the missing Chavez?
    Absolutely! With their fearless and loved leader possibly dying and in Cuba, the people of Venezuela seemed lost. Problems seemed to arise immediately after Chavez left for Havana.
    One other funny point is that after Chavez left for his treatment, his approval rating increased by 12%. He is a truly beloved Modern Caudillo.

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