Venezuela and Struggle for Socialism Essay
Economic and social problems are the causes of public unrest in Venezuela. The social problems stem from historical struggles among the poor to fit into the society in a bid to afford basic commodities.
Power struggles and inequality perpetuate into modern society because of the affluent, and powerful people enjoy more privileges than the poor and the powerless individuals. According to McCarthy, gender and racial inequalities coupled with economic and social classes, continue to perpetuate modern society because they have adopted novel modernizations (9). The existence of inequalities plunges people into poverty and triggers demonstrations and protests.
Protesters point to the fact that the government has failed to deal with economic issues such as inflation and the rising crime rates. Poverty, inequality, marginalization, and discrimination are socioeconomic issues that people are facing in Venezuela (McCarthy 7).
Overall, high inflation rates, gender violence, crime, and shortage of resources affect the population, irrespective of political loyalty or class. Therefore, this essay argues that the Venezuelan government should enhance democracy, food security, promote freedom of expression, and support gender equality because they are fundamental human rights.
Formally known as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Venezuela is located in South America and shares its borders with Guyana and Colombia. The discovery of oil in the early part of the 20th century made Venezuela among the major exporters of oil in Latin America. Through the discovery of oil, Venezuela experienced a robust economic growth from the late 1920s to the 1970s, when Venezuela transformed into a modernized state in Latin America.
In 1958 Venezuela became a democratic state and was ruled by an elite pact (Albo 290). The pact protected the interests of major political parties and social groups such as the armed forces, business people, the church, and organized labor groups. As the economy grew, so did corruption and poor leadership emerged.
During the late 20th century, the Venezuelans government formulated a robust economic plan, which allowed massive investment in sectors such as health, water, and education. In the early 1980s, there was a decrease in the world’s oil prices that shook the Venezuelan economy and increased its foreign debt. Riddel argues that although Bolivarianism transformed Venezuela because it emancipated citizens, when President Luis Herera’s enter into power in 1983, he reversed the achievements of Bolivarianism (3).
In 1989 after Carlos Pérez was inaugurated, he announced an International Monetary Fund- assisted program, which sparked riots all over Venezuela, forcing the government to use the military force. The following year, President Pérez was impeached on corruption charges.
In the successive administrations, Ramon Velasquez (1993-1994) and Rafael Caldera (1994-1999) removed the adjustment package (Albo 21). After his election in 1998, Hugo Chávez wrote a new constitution and implemented social reforms to help the poor. President Chávez died in early march 2013 and Nicolas Maduro his Vice President replaced him as President after winning the elections in April.
The Right to Food
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) identifies food as a basic human right that people should access irrespective of the social, economic, or political classes.
Two international Covenants codify the UDHR’s declared ideals into international law; these are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The provisions of the ICCPR and ICESCR are in tandem with the provisions of the UDHR in supporting a society that is free from hunger. As Venezuela ratified both Covenants in 1978, it is thus bound by the treaty to respect the right to food.
The government should protect, respect, and fulfill the right to food, as they enhance human dignity in the face of hunger (Alston and Eide 256). When Hugo Chavez became President in 1999, he introduced price controls on basic commodities to make them affordable to the poor. A feeding program for school children was also introduced.
Owing to food shortage, Venezuela decided to provide foodstuff in 2006 at subsidized prices by about 40% (Alston and Eide 8). However the controls destabilized the marketplace, and this led to food shortages due to a decrease in production. Another effect of the food price control is that business people either hoarded or sold price-controlled foodstuffs in the black market at unusually high prices.
Freedom of Expression
The 19th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that “everyone has a right to freedom of opinion and expression; this includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers” (Albo 32).
Moreover, the Venezuelan constitution establishes that “everyone has a right to timely, truthful and impartial information without censorship, as well as the right to reply and to demand a correction when they see themselves directly affected by inexact or defamatory information” (Howard-Hansmann 23). In this view, social unrest in Caracas, Venezuela, is as a result of political demands, including calls for freedom of expression.
In October 2013, the National Telecommunications Commission, the state media regulator imposed a larger fine on Globovision for violating the Law on Social Accountability in Radio, Television, and Electronic Media (Howard-Hansmann 10). The government has been accused of bringing down several websites and blocking social media applications by the state-owned Internet operator. The government also monitors emails and web searches.
Venezuela has a little supply of newspapers because printing materials are limited. Privately owned stations practice self-censorship in transmitting information so that the government might not incriminate them because freedom of expression is limited. Thus, the government should promote freedom of expression within its jurisdiction.
In 1960, the Venezuelan constitution declared men and women are legally equal. Before the early 1980s, the government did not allow both married and cohabiting women to own property, authorize official documents, or make independent decisions about parenting without seeking approval of their spouses (Riddel 5).
The Chávez administration was more receptive to women than previous regimes because the economic growth created jobs for women. However, the law protecting women against gender-based violence is not effective since the judicial system is yet to implement it. Therefore, the Venezuelan government should formulate appropriate legislations that recognize women as marginalized groups and provide affirmative action so that women can overcome the issue of gender inequality.
Examination of violations of human rights such as democracy, right to food, freedom of expression, and gender equality requires the attention of the international community. Democracy is essential in Venezuela because it forms the basis of social, economic, and political reforms. Since a compromise of freedom of press, speech, and Internet stifles a country’s growth, it has no place in a truly democratic society.
Compromised freedom of expression promotes dictatorship, encourages ignorance, and prevents the free flow of information and creativity. Food security is also a pertinent human right that the Venezuelan government needs to re-examine and improve.
Although there have been significant improvements in the lives of ordinary women, the Venezuelan government needs to eliminate gender inequality. Moreover, the Venezuelan government needs to support gender equality and formulate legislations that deal with gender-based violence and have them implemented effectively.
Albo, George. The Unexpected Revolution. Chicago: Chicago Press, 2006. Print.
Alston, Philip, and Asbjorn Eide. Advancing the Right to Food in International Law. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2012.Print
Howard-Hansann, Rhoda. The Right to Food under Hugo Chávez. Ontario: Charlton Press, 2014. Print.
McCarthy, Philip. Integrated Perspectives in Global Studies. Santa Barbara: Cognella, 2010. Print.
Riddel, John. Venezuela and the International Struggle for Socialism. Ontario: South Branch Publications, 2008, Print.
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Introduction Economic and social problems are the causes of public unrest in Venezuela. The social problems stem from historical struggles among the poor to fit into the society in a […]