Ambassador Alvarez: Venezuela's Democratic Progress
The Washington Post
Letter to the Editor
Friday, December 10, 2004; Page A36
A Nov. 20 editorial, which disputed the notion that democracy is thriving in Latin America, did not mention that Venezuelan citizens went to the polls in record numbers to participate in the Aug. 5 presidential recall referendum. The editorial said that President Hugo Chavez "survived" the referendum, minimizing his 59 percent to 41 percent victory.
This was the third time in six years that Venezuelans have affirmed their support for Mr. Chavez and his reform agenda. They support Mr. Chavez because of his commitment to use the country's oil wealth to end poverty and corruption. Under his leadership, Venezuela's middle class has grown, health care has been provided to those who could not previously afford it and literacy programs have taught more than a million people to read. In the third quarter of 2004, the unemployment rate fell to 14.5 percent from 17.5 percent a year earlier.
Venezuela's oil wealth is being used for the good of many instead of the wealth of a few. Mr. Chavez is one of the few democratic leaders who have committed to ending poverty and lifting up the lives of all citizens.
BERNARDO ALVAREZ HERRERA
Embassy of Venezuela