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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/12/09

Can Chávismo survive without Hugo?

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The tension between participatory democracy vs. representative democracy is being played out in Venezuela, where widely loved Hugo Cha'vez 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 Cha'vez' revolution in participatory democracy is "about empowering the grassroots, why is it that Cha'vez himself needs to stay on as a leader?"

Maribel Casares, a Cha'vez Referendum campaigner, responds:

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

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 Cha'vez has become the symbol of this process.... The reality is this movement still needs a spearhead and Cha'vez has come to represent that."

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