Venezuelan Elections views from outside

Last Updated: Friday, October 5, 2012

Venezuelan elections from abroad?

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is a political figure who goes beyond the borders of their own country and now faces what appears to be its most serious challenge at the polls by the opposition Henrique Capriles. But how much attention you are paying to the elections abroad?

BBC takes a look at the countries where Venezuela’s elections have, or where you expect them to have a particular interest.

U.S.

In U.S. attention to the elections in Venezuela is being overshadowed by the presidential race itself in this country. ”All politics is local”, as the saying goes, and in this case, both the public and the media and the parties are investing their efforts in what happens within its own borders.

Naturally, foreign policy is part of the debate between presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but the subject-including Venezuelan Hugo Chavez as its central character, is very difficult to compete against other issues such as Iran and its alleged nuclear threat, or Syria and stability in the Middle East.

More, the Obama administration has maintained a foreign agenda with Latin America as frugal that what happens in the region barely registers on the radar. As he told BBC analyst Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington (COHA, for its acronym in English), ”Latin America virtually disappeared from the list of interests for the United States.”

The histrionics of Chavez or his fight against cancer to still give the occasional headline in the press or some politician try giving concrete form to an ephemeral threat spectrum can conjure to advance their partisan interests. The most recent was the Romney campaign that warned of the course that made Chavez endorsement to U.S. President when declared Sunday ”if I were American, I would vote for Obama.”

Americans are too focused on their own elections …

The Washington Post, the largest newspaper in the U.S. capital, spent half page color photo on the crowded congregation last weekend around the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, but interest was more in the off chance his triumph and in two violent deaths that occurred in another event.

On the true political, social and economic development of Venezuelan elections, the radical change that Chavez has imposed or proposed Capriles, the analysis has been poor, lower interest and no public knowledge.

William Marquez, BBC correspondent in Washington

China

On September 25, a regular exchange with the press, a reporter asked the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei if large home loans granted to Venezuela could tip the outcome of elections.

Cooperation between China and Venezuela is held on the basis of mutual benefit, said Hong, who explained that the money is used primarily in infrastructure, agriculture and energy sector.

”To suggest that China loans can influence politics in Venezuela is unfounded,” he said.

Days before the elections take place Venezuelan cooperation between the two countries seems to have reached one of its highest points, is something planned coincidence.

On October 1, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that on 29 September a rocket of China had successfully launched a satellite into space Venezuelan named ”Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda”.

It was also in September China and Venezuela signed an agreement for the development of Las Cristinas, one of the largest gold mines in the world.

Click Read: Venezuela and China agree exploitation of major gold deposit

Since the two countries established a strategic alliance in 2001, their relationship has blossomed and the Chinese presence in the South American nation has become more prominent.

Chavez visited China many times since taking office and China has become the largest creditor Venezuela.

This Chinese rocket put a satellite into space in late September Venezuelan.

The Chinese government has paid about U.S. $ 36,000 million to the Chavez administration, Venezuela canceled debt primarily with oil.

From the Chinese point of view this is a situation where everyone wins: China ensures an important source of energy for its rapidly developing economy and an ally in what it calls a world order ”multipolar”. And Chavez, sell oil to China involves reduce U.S. dependence and, having Chinese investments, fuels economic development and self-image.

So far no comments from Chinese officials about the election, beyond the episode cited in the press conference. Nor were many reports on the subject. Certainly, the Chinese government does not seem to interfere in the affairs of other nations.

The opponent of Chávez, Henrique Capriles, said it would reduce the presence of Chinese companies in case of winning the election. With that, it is perhaps possible to guess where the silent preferences will lean Chinese government in the elections of October 7.

Wu Yuwen, the BBC Chinese Service

Cuba

In Cuba the eyes are focused forward Venezuela election fussily therefore explains the BBC correspondent in Havana, Fernando Ravsberg, ”what happens to the great friend of the south could dramatically affect” the lives of Cubans.

Ravsberg continues: ”The Cuban doctors in Venezuela services account for the bulk of foreign exchange earnings of the country, about U.S. $ 5,000 million annually.”

According to Cuban economists, provide more than tourism, remittances, snuff, sugar and nickel together.

A very close relationship.

Most of the work of doctors, teachers and sports coaches is settled with oil but some sources claim that the sale of services has reached such a level that would be paying Caracas to Havana a surplus cash to balance the relationship bilateral.

The bilateral cooperation is key to the reelection of President Chavez, who based the social achievements of his government in ‘missions’ as Barrio Adentro, where Cubans are health professionals, education and sports to the poorest parts of Venezuela .

Although the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said it will not suspend the agreement with Cuba, the island no one believes that 35,000 Cuban doctors in Venezuela continue achieved if the opposition election victory over the ruling. ”

Colombia

Under President Hugo Chavez, relations between Bogota and Caracas have not always been the happiest, but that is only one reason why in Colombia is following with particular interest the Venezuelan elections.

Many professionals who have migrated from Venezuela to Colombia in recent years and important sectors of the Colombian economy, such as oil, have benefited greatly with his arrival.

And the result of the elections next October 7 could end shortening or extending your stay.

It is, however, the alleged closeness between Chavez and the FARC that makes its continuity or exit the Palace of Miraflores particularly care about the Colombians.

No wonder this was the issue that ended up causing the rupture of diplomatic relations between the two countries for just over two years, when the then President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe was about to finish his second term.

And although relations were immediately revived by his successor, Juan Manuel Santos, much of society still viewed with suspicion Colombian Chavez.

The Venezuelan government, in any case, has been named the new companion Colombian peace process.

And I can certainly provide that support will differ depending on whether the next president of Venezuela is Henrique Capriles or Hugo Chavez remains.

Arthur Wallace, BBC correspondent in Colombia

Argentina

Cristina Fernandez’s government has maintained close ties with his counterpart Hugo Chavez of, to the point that the opposition accuses the president of Argentina’s increasingly want to implement a ”Chavista model” in Argentina.

Click Read: Do they look like Argentina and Venezuela?

In recent years, Venezuela was a major buyer of securities of Argentina’s foreign debt, however, the importance of the bilateral relationship Argentina’s recent agreements constitute or future projects. Both in terms of energy.

The first is an agreement of intent between Fiscal Oilfields (YPF), Argentina recently expropriated by-and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to build a refinery in Argentina, with the aim of trying to cover the large deficit of Argentine domestic market fuels , which currently has a high dependence on imports.

Unofficial in the press close to the government of Fernandez mentioned a possible joint investment of U.S. $ 1,500 million in this project.

Another fact that helps to understand the importance of the bilateral relationship is that, according to BBC could know, the Argentine government was advised by PDVSA for the expropriation of YPF, as to the legal terms of the nationalization.

Oil also is starring in the relationship between Argentina and Venezuela.

The second project is in the Argentine state budget of 2013, which mentions an expected purchase of U.S. $ 2,000 million for fuels as part of a recent cooperation agreement signed between the two governments.

Importing energy is a key strategic point currently in Argentina, after which in 2011 began to buy fuel abroad for the first time in about 20 years. According to the government this was due to lack of investment until recently shareholder of YPF, Repsol, which would have caused a decline in production. The Spanish company denies this indication.

It may not be very risky to indicate that the future of energy policy continuity Argentina passes by Hugo Chavez in power.

Vladimir Hernandez, BBC correspondent for the Southern Cone

Bolivia

The main bilateral creditors Bolivia right now is Venezuela.

According to figures from the Central Bank of Bolivia, through the end of 2011, Bolivia Venezuela owed about $ 418 million. More than double the $ 178 million he owed to Brazil, a nation that is second.

The debt rose from $ 46 million to U.S. $ 418 between 2007 and 2011, mainly by imports of Venezuelan fuel that made the government of Evo Morales to meet domestic demand in the country.

Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in the region, is also one of the Latin American countries that have signed cooperation agreements with the government of Hugo Chavez.

One of them between PDVSA and Oilfield Bolivianos (YPFB) for hydrocarbon exploration in the Bolivian Amazon.

Morales is also considered a close political ally of Chavez in the international arena and as such has provided support Bolivia in such ambitious projects as the creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the block shaped as an attempt to counterbalance the Organization of American States is considered under the influence of Washington.

Ecuador

In Ecuador, meanwhile, is the close alliance between President Rafael Correa and his Venezuelan counterpart what makes the race for the Palace of Miraflores especially important for Ecuadorians.

Ecuador soon join the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), but there is a clear political affiliation between Correa and Chavez.

Together, also, in the ALBA.

And in recent years the two countries have signed numerous economic and cooperation agreements framed in ”the spirit of solidarity” of the ALBA.

Under one of these agreements, for example, oil from Venezuela Ecuador sends and receives in return the refined product at favorable prices.

Click Read also: Why Venezuela imports gasoline

And a change in the Miraflores Palace could cause the review of several of these agreements.

Meanwhile, Chavez eventual power output would also give greater prominence to international Rafael Correa, who could end up taking the lead regional Bolivarian project.

And in Ecuador leading critic of the president seem to be convinced that an eventual victory Henrique Capriles could galvanize and inspire the Ecuadorian opposition.

Spain

From the ”Why do not you shut up?” Real 2007, overall impact, no further diplomatic upheavals between Venezuela and Spain. In the European country ruled then the Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, there, Hugo Chavez. A history: the previous government of José María Aznar, the conservative ideology, had supported the coup against Chavez in 2002.

But after the episode, relaxed relationships. Even the prosecution in Spain of course Arturo Cubillas as bridge between band members and the Venezuelan ETA, in 2010, drew the string, through the mediation of the Spanish government for his Venezuelan counterpart.

The recent return of the right to the Spanish presidency with Mariano Rajoy did not change much the state of things: pincers drowned by the financial crisis, Madrid has given special prominence to the political relationship with Caracas.

Keep prioritizing between the two countries, as with the other great nations of Latin America, the ”economic diplomacy”, with Spanish companies doing business in Venezuela in sensitive areas such as the arms industry, the Spanish defense minister said in July that Hugo Chavez is ”great friend” – the energy sector, telecommunications and banking.

In this context, the Venezuelan elections have significant presence in the headlines in the press, especially as the date of the vote. In television and radio news item is less. But among voters the expectation is high participation: Spain is the second polling abroad after the United States. This Sunday will vote little more than 23,000 Venezuelans in five Spanish cities: Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Tenerife, Vigo and Bilbao.

In the years before the crisis grew Venezuelan emigration to Spain, aided by dual citizenship in his capacity as descendants of Spanish immigrants, representing one of the largest foreign colony there. According to the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, there are over 50,000 Venezuelans residing in the country, although the figures do not take into account the nationalized. World Bank figures show that Venezuelans living in Spain exceed 150,000.

Lafuente Sandra Portillo from Madrid to BBC

Iran

In a context of growing isolation government for the development of Iran’s nuclear program, being able to have with countries that maintain cordial relations and, indeed flaunt this link, is of great value to the Iranian leadership .

Hugo Chavez has been between these strong supporters and close friends of the Iranians, especially during the tenure of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. States for business, because they are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and for sharing and anti-imperialist rhetoric, the two leaders have forged a close bond.

The Iranian regime sees the Chavez government a sort of reflection of his own image.

The two have met on numerous occasions, in both countries. And both governments have signed over 300 agreements on economic cooperation since 2006.

A Chavez victory in the elections could be a morale boost for the Iranian government, which sees it as a kind of reflection of his own image, but a comparison is not entirely correct.

Chavez is a democratically elected president in Iran while the power is concentrated in the hands of an unelected leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and even elected officials in elections, as the case of the president, are controlled by agencies responding to Khamenei .

Moreover, if Chávez defeated by Capriles result, the government will see it as a moral blow (especially in a context in which Syria, its closest ally in the Middle East is in crisis), as would be viewed with approval by opposition forces.

Elyassi Hamid, the BBC Persian Service

 

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