Venezuela. According to
Countryaah official website, a new chapter in Venezuela's history appears
to have been initiated by the controversial winner in the
1998 presidential election, the former paratrooper and coup
maker Hugo Chávez, who was installed in his office on
February 2. He calls his government "revolutionary" and has
declared "war against old Venezuela". Corruption, poverty,
neoliberalism and the petrified bipartisan system
("puntofijismo") that Venezuela has had since 1958 and which
blurred the border between the state and political parties
("party democracy") must be fought.
The main theme during the year has been a constitutional
reform through which Chávez aims to found a "new republic".
The main battle has been between Chávez's supporters and the
Supreme Court, and has concerned whether a constituent
assembly is in itself unconstitutional. His opponent accuses
him of authoritarianism and warns against the militarization
of Venezuela's politics.
On November 19, a proposal for a new constitution was
completed in record time - 3 months. Power is gathered with
the president, the two-chamber congress is replaced by a
national assembly with control over legislation and the
judicial system, the military gains voting rights and the
president's term of office is extended from 5 to 6 years,
with the possibility of re-election. For the most part, the
Constitution is considered to be Chávez's own work and
tailor made for him. It was approved by a large majority.
More than 70% of the population voted yes in the referendum
held on December 15.
The year in Venezuela ended with heavy downpours that
caused extensive soil and clay breeding. Between 100,000 and
200,000 people are believed to have become homeless, and
tens of thousands have been killed.