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31565Workers March against Venezuelan Business Federation to Protest “Economic War” & Venezuelans are Strongest S upporters of Democracy in Latin America

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  • Cort Greene
    Nov 4 5:00 PM
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      Workers March against Venezuelan Business Federation to Protest “Economic War”

      Nov 4th 2013, by Ewan Robertson

      Pro-government trade unions marched against Venezuela’s main business federation last week to protest the “economic war” t

      Pro-government trade unions marched against Venezuela’s main business federation last week to protest the “economic war” that workers argue the federation is waging against the government. (VTV)

      Mérida, 4th November 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Pro-government trade unions marched against Venezuela’s main business federation last week to protest the “economic war” that workers argue the federation is waging against the government.

      The march, which took place last Thursday in the capital Caracas, was directed at Venezuela’s largest business federation, Fedecamaras, as well as the Venezuelan – American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Venacham) and the National Council of Commerce and Services (Consecomercio).

      Several trade unions in favour of the government of Nicolas Maduro participated in the march which was led by the Bolivarian Central of Socialist Workers, the main pro-government union federation.

      The march, which arrived at Fedecamaras’ offices in central Caracas, was held to show worker opposition to the “economic war” and rally support for the government’s economic policies.

      “This is about telling the pro-coup sectors of Fedecamaras, Venacham, the Polar Group [Venezuela’s largest private food producer] and the bankers that their time has come,” said Braulio Alvarez, a legislator of the government’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), who attended the demonstration.

      Although the economy has continued to gradually grow this year and unemployment has remained relatively low, since January the country has experienced shortages in some basic foodstuffs such as milk and corn flour while annual inflation has spiked to 49.4%, the highest in recent years.

      Further, on the black market the dollar is currently worth up to nine times the official value set by the government (6.3 bolivars = US $1), creating imbalances for importation and price-setting.

      The Venezuelan government argues that these problems are due to an “economic war” being waged against it by business sectors aligned with the conservative opposition. Officials affirm that these sectors attack the bolivar currency, lower production, hoard products and speculate on prices in order to provoke scarcity, inflation, and political discontent.

      Meanwhile the opposition claims that the economic situation is due to “government mismanagement”, arguing that state interventionist policies such as currency and price controls have damaged local production and affected imports.

      Workers at Thursday’s march supported the government’s stance on the situation and accused business groups of purposefully destabilising the economy.

      “We demand that Fedecamaras cease the economic war, speculation, and reduction of supply…the people are organised, [late president Hugo] Chavez awoke us to never again go to sleep or kneel before anyone,” declared Frank Quijada, president of the national union of Polar Group workers.

      Since Maduro’s election in April the government has adopted a range of measures to combat shortages and inflation, such as boosting imports, stimulating agricultural production, raising some price controls, and setting up an Economic Commission to monitor private and state-owned companies’ production and supply chains.

      The government has also set up an information line for citizens to denounce any incidents of “economic sabotage” in companies, suppliers or retailers.

      “We workers say today to the world, to Fedecamaras, Venacham and all those businesspersons that are destabilising the nation, that we workers have become worker-inspectors, we’re training ourselves to accompany the government of President Nicolas Maduro in this struggle,” said Marco Antonio Diaz, vice president of the Bolivarian Central, to state media.

      According to a recent survey by polling firm the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), opinion over the responsibility for shortages in the country appears to coincide with political affiliation.

      In the poll, 75% of “Chavistas” agreed with the statement that economic sabotage is responsible for producing shortages, while 44% of independents and only 18% of pro-opposition respondents felt the same way.

      Thursday’s march was one of several planned by the pro-government union movement around the country this month in protest of the “economic war”. 

      Source URL (retrieved on 04/11/2013 - 1:31pm): http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10141

      Regional Poll: Venezuelans are Strongest Supporters of Democracy in Latin America

      Nov 4th 2013, by Ewan Robertson

      Venezuelans queuing to vote in the October 2012 presidential election (agencies)

      Venezuelans queuing to vote in the October 2012 presidential election (agencies)

      Mérida, 4th November 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A regional poll has found that support for democracy is higher among Venezuelans than citizens of any other Latin American country.

      The Chilean-based Latinobarometro organisation, which has undertaken annual studies of political, social and economic attitudes in Latin America since 1995, released the findings in its 2013 report on Friday.

      According to the report, 87% of Venezuelans support democracy over any other kind of political system, a higher percentage than any other of the eighteen Latin American and Caribbean countries measured. Venezuela is followed by Argentina (73%), Uruguay (71%), and Chile (63%), with the regional average of citizen support for democracy at 56%.

      Venezuela is also one of the Latin American countries in which support for democracy has most greatly increased since studies began in 1995, when it was 60%.

      Further, the study reported that 42% of Venezuelans are “satisfied” with the functioning of their democracy, the seventh highest of eighteen countries polled, with the regional average of satisfaction with democracy at 39%.

      In the context of the findings, the report observed that “Venezuela thus remains in the eye of controversy as the country where there is the greatest distance between what its citizens say and what the international community says about its democracy”.

      The report also found Venezuelans to be the most politically engaged and ideologically polarised in Latin America.

      Forty nine percent of Venezuelans say that they are interested in politics, the highest level in the region, with the average being 28%. The least politically engaged country is Chile, where only 17% say they have an interest in politics.

      Venezuela is also reported to be the most “ideologised” country in Latin America, with only 6% of respondents not placing themselves somewhere on the left – right divide of the political spectrum. Again, the reverse case is Chile, where 38% of citizens do not place themselves anywhere on the left-right spectrum, followed by Brazil at 32%. The regional average of non-ideological classification is 19%.

      This ideological polarisation is further reflected in the question asking citizens of each country to identify themselves as left-wing, right-wing, or centrist. In Venezuela 36% of citizens define themselves as left-wing (the highest percentage in the region), 32% as right-wing (the third-highest in the region) and 26% as centrist (the third-lowest in the region).

      These high levels of political engagement and ideological polarisation appear to have been reflected in political participation in Venezuela in recent years, with voter turnout for the last two presidential elections among the region’s highest, at around 80%.

      Crime and Shortages are Biggest Problems

      According to the Latinobarometro poll Venezuelans feel crime and shortages in the economy are the country’s two greatest problems, while issues such as poverty, health and education services, and youth opportunities are not considered big problems by citizens.

      Forty-seven percent of Venezuelans say crime is their country’s biggest problem, the highest of any country in the region. Crime is considered the top national problem by 27% of Latin Americans in general, making it the region’s biggest problem in the eyes of the population.

      Venezuela scores well on citizen perception of government capacity to resolve problems, with 50% of Venezuelans feeling that the government will “probably” resolve the country’s chief problems in the next five years, the sixth most optimistic response in the region. The average is 42%.

      Moreover, despite some economic difficulties experienced this year, Venezuelans show themselves generally in line with the regional average for perceptions of personal economic circumstances and predictions of economic improvement in the coming period.

      Specifically, 32% of Venezuelans feel their current personal economic situation is “good” (regional average 33%) and 38% feel that the country’s economic situation will improve during the next three years (regional average 40%).

      The Grass is Greener?

      One finding which has raised eyebrows in international media is the divergent economic views of citizens in countries such as Venezuela and Chile.

      In response to the statement “a market economy is the only system with which the country can become developed” the strongest support comes from Venezuelans, 69% of whom agree. The regional average of support for a market economy is 59%.

      In Venezuela the state plays a strong role in the economy and the government of President Nicolas Maduro espouses “21st century socialism” as the ideal economic model for the country’s development.

      Meanwhile 43% of Chileans express support for a market economy as the only possible development model, the second lowest level of support in Latin America. Chile has a market-led economic model which is generally hailed by orthodox financial voices as an example for the region.

      These divergent opinions appear to coincide with dissatisfaction over the practical performance of private and state owned public services such as water and electricity. Only 18% of Chileans believe that privatisation of such services has been of benefit to the country, while 39% of Venezuelans feel that nationalisation of private services has been beneficial.

      The Latinobarometro survey in Venezuela was carried out with a sample of 1200 respondents and an error margin of +/- 2.8%. 

      Source URL (retrieved on 04/11/2013 - 8:28pm): http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10142