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Can Chávismo survive without Hugo?

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 1/12/09

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The tension between participatory democracy vs. representative democracy is being played out in Venezuela, where widely loved Hugo Chávez again seeks a constitutional amendment to allow him to run for reelection in 2012. Some see the removal of term limits as a threat to democracy, raising the question:

If Chávez' revolution in participatory democracy is "about empowering the grassroots, why is it that Chávez himself needs to stay on as a leader?"

Maribel Casares, a Chávez Referendum campaigner, responds:

"We know that we will never have another president like Chávez. He is the only president who has transformed the country. And not only here, his transformation has been felt outside Venezuela as well."

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Miguel Tinker Salas of Latin American Studies, Pomono College explains:

"Invariably, mass movements don't function at the level of the collective. They function at the level of leadership. Also, and Chávez has become the symbol of this process.... The reality is this movement still needs a spearhead and Chávez has come to represent that."

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