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Context of 'After December 15, 1999: Venezuela’s New Contsitution Seen as Integral to Grassroots Social Movement'

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Hugo Chavez is elected president, beating Henrique Salas Romer, a Yale-educated former governor of Carabobo state. [CNN, 12/6/1998; CNN, 12/7/1998; New York Times, 12/9/1998]

Entity Tags: Hugo Chavez Frias

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

In Bolivarian Circles and other pro-government political study groups, people read and study the 1999 constitution (see December 15, 1999). According to supporters of the Chavez government, the constitution becomes an integral part of a grassroots movement to advance Chavez’s social agenda. “It is a political project towards which pro-Chavez Venezuelans want to move the society,” says Gregory Wilpert, a former US Fulbright scholar in Venezuela. By contrast, notes Wilpert, few in the general population ever read the country’s previous constitution, drafted in 1966. Roland Denis, a veteran political organizer in the barrios of Caracas and former Vice-Minister for local planning, similarly describes the significance of the 1999 constitution: “[Chavez’s] leadership was and is undisputed, but his ideas would not have been enough to bring together the movement. The constitution fills this gap. It is a political program and simultaneously serves the purpose of providing a framework for the process. This constitution is not simply a dead text. It reflects values and principles. Perhaps not enough, perhaps one will have to reform it, maybe later one will not need it anymore for the revolutionary process. But at the moment it has the function of Mao’s Little Red Book: It represents the demands and goals of the grassroots movement.” [Venezuela Analysis, 8/27/2003]

Entity Tags: Hugo Chavez Frias

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

George A. Folsom, president of the International Republican Institute, applauds the ouster of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “The Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country,” he says in a statement. “Venezuelans were provoked into action as a result of systematic repression by the government of Hugo Chavez.” [New York Times, 4/25/2002]

Entity Tags: International Republican Institute

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

For the two-month duration of a strike in Venezuela (see February 3, 2003), the only commercials on Venezuelan TV are pieces by the opposition attacking President Hugo Chavez. [Adage, 2/10/2003]

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government signs a deal with China to expand its oil market into China in search of more lucrative deals. [United Press International, 1/30/2005; Bloomberg, 2/2/2005]

Entity Tags: Scott McClellan, Hugo Chavez Frias

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela accuses the US government of planning “new aggressions” against him. The aggressions, Chavez describes, include another attempted coup and an assassination attempt. Chavez warns US president George W. Bush that if an assassination attempt was successful the people of Latin America would assume that democratic rules “no longer apply.” Chavez warns that another consequence of his assassination would be an “interruption of the flow of oil to the US.” Chavez asks that Bush consider these consequences before making a decision about his assassination. [Venezuela Analysis, 2/20/2005]

Entity Tags: Hugo Chavez Frias

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, US-Venezuela (1948-2005)


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