World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Chávez & Opposition Agreement Anything But Binding

www.coha.org
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Monitoring Political, Economic and Diplomatic Issues Affecting the Western Hemisphere
Memorandum to the Press 03.27
30 May 2003

COHA Research Memorandum:

Chávez and the Opposition Sign an

Agreement that is Anything But Binding

- Weakened and divided since the failure of the December/ January strike, the opposition has been unable to achieve its principle goal of a guaranteed August referendum by yesterday's agreement with Chávez.

- The agreement is a victory for Chávez, allowing him to claim that the turmoil is ending, without actually having to risk his presidency.

Yesterday, after nearly seven months of intermittent negotiation, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and the leadership of the opposition signed an agreement in an attempt to diffuse the country's current political crisis. In their public statements, both sides are praising the accord as evidence of support for the constitution and as a step towards ending the violent turmoil in Venezuela. In reality, however, the agreement is a strong victory for Chávez and demonstrates that the weakness of the opposition was very much a factor at the negotiating table. The agreement calls on both sides to respect the constitutional principle of allowing a referendum only after an elected official has served half of his or her elected term, insinuating that any possible referendum will include not only the president, but also opposition governors and mayors. Although the opposition was seeking early general elections, the agreement does not even guarantee that a referendum will take place, nor does it prohibit Chávez from blocking opposition efforts to stage such a vote.

With current opinion polls showing that the Venezuelan president would not win an August referendum, Chávez has little motivation to facilitate it. While hailing the agreement as a step by the opposition to acknowledge the primacy of the Constitution, the president maintains that, "The referendum is only a possibility. It is not certain that there will be a referendum." Even César Gaviria, OAS secretary-general and one of the chief moderators of the negotiations, acknowledged, "the document does not put an end to the crisis." The opposition does have some victories to show its supporters. In the agreement the government finally acknowledged that human rights abuses and an armed citizenry are current problems plaguing the Venezuelan population. However, the main threat posed by the agreement lies in the language referring to any possible referendum. Since the document refers to all elected officials, it is likely that Chávez will threaten to force referendums for some of the opposition governors and mayors, should he himself have to face a vote.

The Venezuelan president has proven himself a master strategist. During both the coup and recent strikes, Chávez defied opinion polls and not only managed to survive, but quite possibly has emerged stronger than before. The opposition should keep this in mind as it uses the agreement to press towards a referendum in August. Chávez was forced to concede little in negotiations and is not bound to facilitate such a vote. Even if it does take place, Chávez has sufficient time to court anew the part of his population that he had previously lost and may once again be able to overcome his current low popularity ratings in opinion polls to retain power. It is also possible that Chávez could lose any referendum, but win the subsequent presidential election, in which he would be allowed to run. While Chávez does not have a majority of the Venezuelan population behind him, the opposition is weak and divided. If the economy revives and the president is able to rebuild his constituency, his re-election prospects may be anything but bleak.

This analysis was prepared by Katherine Wells, research associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. Issued 30 May 2003

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 216-9261, fax (202) 223-6035, or email coha@coha.org.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news