On Sunday, Venezuelan voters talked about the significance of the election to pick a successor to the late Hugo Chávez.
[translated] Without a doubt, this is an act that will leave arelevant mark in our history. But it is forming the start of another era, an era 14years before, and we’ll have to wait and see what will happen in the 14 years after.
[translated] I am here early in hopes of improving thesituation. I am anxious to execute my right and try to implement the change to thesituation that has been agitating all Venezuelans.
[translated] Now, with Maduro, we also have to carry out thetasks he gives us, and, God willing, we hope this president will carry on with whatthe past president left behind.
To talk about the election and the state of Venezuela after thedeath of Chávez, we’re joined by two guests.Rory Carroll is author of
Comandante: Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela
. He was
's Latin America correspondent and was based in Caracas until last year.He's now the U.S. West Coast correspondent for
, based in LosAngeles.Mark Weisbrot joins us from Washington, D.C., an economist and co-director of theCenter for Economic and Policy Research.Mark, let’s begin with you. Can you talk about the significance of what took placeyesterday, the election of Nicolás Maduro?
Well, I think it is—you know, the majority, at least, did vote forcontinuity, and I think they did so mainly because there was a large increase inliving standards for people over the past 14 years, you know? If you take the pointwhere the government got control over the oil industry, since then—because theycouldn’t really do anything before that—since then, the poverty was reduced by 50percent, extreme poverty by 70 percent. You had millions of people got access tofree healthcare for the first time. Unemployment was 14-and-a-half percent whenChávez took office; it was 8 percent last year. So, big increases in employment andliving standards. And I think, you know, that’s why they voted for.I think also it was very lucky for the country that the Chávez governmentestablished this really secure electoral system. Now, you can see Capriles is—he’skind of playing to the part of the opposition that in every election has not wanted toaccept the results. Every election since 2004, there’s been a part of the oppositionthat just says, you know, "We don’t buy it." But he’s not really going to do anything,I don’t think, because it’s very easy to have an audit. The system they have, JimmyCarter called it the best in the world, and it really is quite good. I mean, they havetwo records of every vote. You push a touch screen: You have an electronic record.