Venezuela before Chavez

Here’s a headline in the New York Times: Venezuela, Strong Voice of the World’s Poor and the subhead says, “It Is Using Its Wealth to Back Its Policies.”

The article describes Venezuela as “a rich neighbor in a poor corner of the world,” and says that while “Venezuela is implementing a $54 billion domestic development plan aimed at redistributing national wealth and reducing dependence on raw materials exports, it has also committed $3 billion, or 10 percent of its gross territorial product, in loans or other assistance to Latin America, the Caribbean and international organizations.” The president has nationalized the oil and mining industries previously controlled by American companies and supports Latin American integration. “The notion of a united Latin America has been the unfulfilled dream of statesmen here since the time of Simon Bolivar,” the report concludes.

This article, which appeared on August 15, 1976, is referring to  the first administration of Carlos Andres Perez (1974-79). After two other elected presidents came and went, Perez was elected to a second term beginning in 1989.  But then oil prices fell and when Perez imposed austerity measures Venezuelans rioted. A certain army colonel later attempted a coup against the Perez government:  Hugo Chavez.

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