Hugo Chavez's Socialist Party Loses Election and Control of Legislature Amid Venezuelan Economic Crisis

Posted Dec. 16, 2015

MP3 Interview with Garbriel Hetland, assistant professor of Latin American Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY, conducted by Scott Harris


As Venezuelans went to cast their ballots in the nation’s Dec. 6 parliamentary election, the primary issue on the minds of most voters was the failing economy, skyrocketing inflation and severe shortages of basic goods on store shelves across the country. When ballots were counted, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, founded by the late populist leader Hugo Chavez, suffered a humiliating defeat. The opposition Democratic Unity Front won 56 percent of the vote, while the Socialists won just 41 percent. Under Venezuela’s electoral system, the opposition now holds a two-thirds majority of seats in parliament and the power to challenge incumbent Socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s programs, appointments and budget.

Although U.S. politicians and corporate media have long attacked Venezuela's socialist government, in power for 17 years, as a dictatorship, President Maduro, Chavez's hand-picked successor immediately recognized the opposition's victory. But in a televised address, he reminded the nation of the long history of U.S.-supported coups in Latin America, including Washington's support for the attempted overthrow of Chavez in 2002 and blamed the conservative "counter revolution" for sabotaging the oil-dependent economy and destabilizing his rule.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Garbriel Hetland, assistant professor of Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY who analyzes the results of the Venezuelan election and the fate of Hugo Chavez’s political legacy that he called socialism for the 21st century.

Read Garbriel Hetland's recent Nation magazine article, "The End of Chavismo? Why Venezuela’s Ruling Party Lost Big, and What Comes Next,".

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