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February 24, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show exploring Hugo Chávez

Venezuelans recently voted for a referendum to end term limits, which could potentially extend President Hugo Chávez’s term indefinitely.

Chávez is a darling of news headlines worldwide with his colorful, often anti-American rhetoric and socialist agenda, but Worldfocus’ online radio show looked at what the headlines miss:

  • What do the Venezuelans who elected him want?
  • Why has trade with China, Russia and Iran has expanded across Latin America? Has the U.S. “neglected” Latin America?
  • Is Latin America swaying left with elections of seemingly leftist and socialist leaders, like Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Evo Morales in Bolivia?

Worldfocus’ weekly radio show examined the hype of Hugo Chávez and the expectations of the Venezuelans who elected him. The program surveyed the political players in Latin America and explored the social and political movements from the ground up.  Our panel also discussed the Obama administration and the U.S.’s role in Latin America’s future.

Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti, Katie Combs and Stephen Puschel

Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosted a panel of guests:

Charlie Devereux is a correspondent based in Venezuela for GlobalPost. Born and raised in Panama, he has traveled throughout Latin America. Charlie’s work has appeared in the Daily Telegraph, CNN International, the Sunday Telegraph, the San Francisco Chronicle and openDemocracy.

Sujatha Fernandes is an assistant professor of sociology at Queens College, City University of New York. She spent 9 months living and carrying out field research in a popular barrio of Caracas during the presidency of Hugo Chávez. Her book, “In the Spirit of Negro Primero: Urban Social Movements in Chávez’s Venezuela,” will be published by Duke University Press in Spring 2010.

Tony Spanakos is an assistant professor of political science and law at Montclair State University specializing in comparative politics, political economy, democratization and Latin America. He co-edited the book “Reforming Brazil” and is a two-time Fulbright scholar, most recently researching the reception of economic policy in different communities in Venezuela. He conducted this research while living in Caracas between January and August of 2008.

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My wife and I met a nice Venezuelan woman on a hiking trail. She hiked Kennesaw mountain every weekend. She had to return to Venezuela before her visa expired. I hated to see her go. Before leaving she said, “Here in the USA I am a ‘no-body’. I do not like the Chaves government, but at least in Venezuela I am a ‘somebody'”.

The problem with a socialist government is the same problem with any government – it is promoted by leaders who fall short when it comes promoting the good and well-being of the individual citizen as priority #1. Communism stunts the individual,uncontroled capitalism sucks the individual dry. Progressive Socialism – well, it is a work in progress. Good luck to Hugo and good luck to my friend from the mountain top.

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