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Venezuela: What Ch?vez is Doing Right

By Ambassador Alvarez
December 29, 2003

"WILL VENEZUELANS sign up to dump Chavez?'' (International Outlook, Dec. 1) treated the current government of Venezuela unfairly. First, the author repeated the opposition's charge that Hugo Chavez is "gutting democratic institutions.'' In fact, every change made by the Chavez Administration has been accomplished using democratic, constitutional, and peaceful means.

Second, the article says that Hugo Chavez ``ominously warned'' signers of the recall petition that their names would be recorded. Yet when the media took his statement as a threat, he immediately issued a clarification, stating that his comments were intended to reassure people that they could verify that their signatures had been counted. It is also worth noting that signatures on petitions become public record in most U.S. states.

Finally, you report that there is a danger that Hugo Chavez will declare a state of emergency. This is absurd. Chavez did not declare a state of emergency when the opposition staged a coup -- nor during a two-month-long opposition oil sabotage that devastated the economy. This contrasts sharply with his opponents' behavior: They suspended the constitution and imposed martial law when they took power for 48 hours in the 2002 coup.

Bernardo Alvarez Herrera
Ambassador of Venezuela
Readers Report
BusinessWeek, Dec 29, 2003

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