The People and the Revolution: in Defence of 'Twenty- First Century Socialism'
Aleah N. Ranjitsingh
Less than a year after the death of former President Hugo Chavez, the architect of the Bolivarian Revolution, and also within the first year in office of his successor, Nicolas Maduro, opposition protests, both violent and non-violent, have punctuated the Venezuelan political and social landscape. These largely middle-class protests have sought -among other things- to destabilize the democratically elected government of Maduro, and with that, the Bolivarian Revolution. To understand these events and the continued support of the poor and working classes for the Chavez-Maduro project, one must first examine the political history of Venezuela prior to the election of Hugo Chavez and the founding of the revolution. It is through his election that a legacy of exclusionary politics ended to be replaced with a participatory and protagonistic democracy. The revolution has thus created spaces for poor and working class Venezuelan people -and, in particular, women- to exercise a new sense of citizenship, inclusion and newly politicized social roles. The deliberately non-andocentric and inclusionary constitution of 1999, along with the creation of misiones ('missions' or social programmes), have also largely benefitted the poor. It is this extension of power and citizenship to the formerly excluded which explains the enduring support for the late President Chavez, the Bolivarian Revolution, and now, President Maduro.
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