Editorial comment: Changing Chávez
Posted: Monday, May 13, 2002
Published: May 13 2002 19:31
Hugo Chávez has evidently emerged chastened by the violence and political crisis that briefly separated him from Venezuela's presidency last month. His more moderate stance - signalled in recent cabinet appointments and a marked change in his rhetoric - is welcome. But last month's coup and counter-coup have increased Venezuela's problems. Mr Chávez has much to do if he is to restore stability.
Since his return to the presidency, Mr Chávez has sought to open dialogue with the opposition and has reshaped his government to appease military and civilian critics. Economic policy has changed, with the departure from the government of Jorge Giordani, the leftwing ideologue at the centre of policymaking since Mr Chávez's landslide election victory three years ago. His replacement, Felipe Perez, a Chicago-educated economist, is expected to be more responsive to private sector critics.
This signal of a more moderate path accompanies a 10 percentage point increase in Mr Chávez's approval rating since the coup. However, these changes are relatively minor in view of the scale of political polarisation, divisions within the armed forces and deep-rooted private sector suspicions of Mr Chávez. He must also put far-reaching land and other reforms on hold to allow for much fuller discussion and proper planning. The rushed introduction of these measures in November contributed to the groundswell of opposition against Mr Chávez earlier this year. MORE