The United States is not the only country having presidential elections this autumn. Tomorrow, Venezuelans go to the polls in a critical election that will either keep Hugo Chavez in power for six more years or elect challenger and reformer Henrique Capriles. While polling suggests Chavez will eek out a victory, public polling has been traditionally unreliable so it is not implausible that Capriles would win.
In August, I shared my reasons for not visiting Venezuela with Chavez in power, and I am hopeful that Chavez will lose, opening the door for me to add Venezuela to my travel list. And I would think the airline industry (not to mention the U.S. government) would love a Chavez defeat—
Oil helps to explain why Chávez is vilified in the US. In 2000, a year after taking power, he made his first mark on global affairs with a tour of the Middle East to lobby key Opec members – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – to drive oil prices higher. Since then, the cost of Brent crude has risen from less than $20 a barrel to more than $100.
But more importantly, I hope that Chavez loses for the sake of the Venezuelan people. Hyperinflation, corruption, and waste have plagued Venezuela and the economy is not good, even as oil prices have risen over the last year. Surely, an oil rich nation with a vibrant people does not need to suffer the economic plight they currently endure.