US embassy cable - 99CARACAS745

CHAVEZ AFTER FIVE WEEKS

Identifier: 99CARACAS745
Wikileaks: View 99CARACAS745 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Caracas
Created: 1999-03-10 20:18:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL ECON ETRD VE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 102018Z MAR 99
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3356
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 
AMEMBASSY LIMA 
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 
AMEMBASSY QUITO 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 
AMEMBASSY MEXICO 
USCINCSO MIAMI FL
NSC WASHDC
CIA WASHDC
USIA WASHDC 2218
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 CARACAS 000745 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  3/04/09 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ECON, ETRD, VE 
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ AFTER FIVE WEEKS 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR JOHN F. MAISTO.  REASON:  1.5 (D). 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (C) PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ'S FIRST FIVE WEEKS IN OFFICE HAVE 
BEEN CHARACTERIZED BY DRAMATIC AND CONFRONTATIONAL ADVANCEMENT OF 
HIS AGENDA OF POLITICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE, ADMINISTRATIVE 
FUMBLING AS HE ATTEMPTS TO INSTALL HIS GOVERNING TEAM, AND 
CONTINUITY OF ECONOMIC POLICY FROM THE CALDERA ADMINISTRATION. HIS 
IMPATIENCE WITH ESTABLISHED PROCEDURE, PROFOUND SUSPICION OF HIS 
POLITICAL ADVERSARIES, AND NEED TO RESPOND TO HIS POPULAR SUPPORT 
BASE HAVE LED TO ACTION AND RHETORIC WHICH, WHILE WELL WITHIN THE 
BOUNDS OF DEMOCRATIC PRACTICE (EXCEPT FOR  REMARK ABOUT THE SUPREME 
COURT FROM WHICH HE QUICKLY STEPPED BACK), HAVE GIVEN RISE TO 
CHARGES OF AUTHORITARIANISM. HIS ADVERSARIES DEEPLY RESENT HIS 
HECTORING WAYS, BUT HIS POPULARITY CONTINUES TO GROW WITH EACH 
SLASHING ATTACK AGAINST TRADITIONAL POLITICAL PARTIES AND CORRUPT 
PRACTICES.  DURING HIS FIRST FIVE WEEKS, DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS-- 
SUCH AS THE CONGRESS AND THE SUPREME COURT--HAVE LEARNED TO PUSH 
BACK WHEN SHOVED, AND A RECOGNIZABLE OPPOSITION IS SLOWLY FORMING 
IN THE CONGRESS.  IN THE MEANTIME, CHAVEZ'S GREATEST THREAT COMES 
NOT FROM HIS POLITICAL ENEMIES, BUT FROM AN ECONOMY WHICH CANNOT 
PAY THE GOVERNMENT'S BILLS, GENERATE EMPLOYMENT, OR PROVIDE THE 
ADDITIONAL REVENUE NECESSARY TO ADDRESS PRESSING SOCIAL NEEDS.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
-------------------- 
THE FIRST FIVE WEEKS 
-------------------- 
 
2.  (C) LIKE PECOS BILL RIDING THE TORNADO, PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ 
HAS STRAPPED HIMSELF TO THE BACK OF VENEZUELAN DEMOCRACY AND VOWED 
TO RIDE IT TOWARDS PROFOUND POLITICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE. 
UNDAUNTED BY ESTABLISHED PROCEDURES OR THE NICETIES OF 
PARLIAMENTARY DISCOURSE, THE AT TIMES RHETORICALLY AGGRESSIVE 
CHAVEZ HAS CHALLENGED VENEZUELA'S POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS AND ACTORS 
TO RESPOND TO THE RESULTS OF THE DECEMBER 6 ELECTION AND TO MAKE 
VENEZUELAN DEMOCRACY RELEVANT TO THE EVERY DAY CONCERNS OF THE 
VENEZUELAN PEOPLE. 
 
3.  (C)  IN SHORT ORDER, CHAVEZ HAS: 
 
--  ISSUED A DECREE CALLING FOR A REFERENDUM ON HIS PROPOSED 
CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY; 
 
--  ORDERED THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL COUNCIL TO BEGIN PREPARATIONS 
FOR THE REFERENDUM; 
 
--  ESTABLISHED A PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION TO LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR 
SUCH AN ASSEMBLY; 
 
--  BEGUN A SERIES OF CONSULTATIONS WITH KEY SOCIAL AND POLITICAL 
SECTORS REGARDING THE AGENDA OF THE ASSEMBLY; 
 
--  SUBMITTED AN ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ENABLING LAW TO THE 
CONGRESS, WHICH, IF APPROVED, WOULD GIVE HIM BROAD POWERS TO 
ADDRESS VENEZUELA'S FISCAL CRISIS; 
 
--  JUMP-STARTED HIS SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM 
THROUGH HIS "PLAN BOLIVAR 2000," A MILITARY-RUN CIVIC ACTION 
PROGRAM (INCLUDING SUCH WARMLY-RECEIVED WORK IN THE POOREST SECTORS 
OF CARACAS AS PICKING UP TRASH, PAINTING SCHOOLS, AND STAFFING 
CLINICS WITH MILITARY DOCTORS). 
 
4.  (C) CHAVEZ HAS PUSHED HIS AGENDA IN A PUGNACIOUS AND 
CONFRONTATIONAL FASHION.  HE HAS LEAP-FROGGED THE CONGRESS ON THE 
CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY REFERENDUM, THREATENED THE SUPREME COURT 
WITH POPULAR WRATH THAT HE WOULD CHAMPION SHOULD IT BLOCK HIS PLANS 
FOR A REFERENDUM, AND CHARACTERIZED VENEZUELA'S TRADITIONAL 
POLITICAL PARTIES AND INSTITUTIONS AS CORRUPT AND INEFFECTIVE. 
 
5.  (C) HIS HARD-HITTING AND POPULIST RHETORIC, WHILE WITHIN THE 
BOUNDS OF DEMOCRATIC TRADITION AND PRACTICE, HAS PROVOKED THE 
RESENTMENT AND HOSTILITY OF HIS ADVERSARIES.  THEIR INITIAL EFFORTS 
TO BLOCK OR RE-ROUTE CHAVEZ'S CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY INITIATIVE 
WERE STEAM-ROLLERED BY CHAVEZ, WHO REFUSED TO ALLOW THEIR 
INSTITUTIONAL POSITION TO DILUTE OR DIMINISH WHAT CHAVEZ BELIEVES 
IS HIS ELECTORAL MANDATE TO EFFECT SWEEPING POLITICAL CHANGES. 
 
6.  (C) CHAVEZ'S SUCCESS IN DRIVING HIS POLITICAL AGENDA FORWARD 
HAS HAD ONE IMPORTANT CONSEQUENCE:  MOVEMENT TOWARDS A 
CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY IS A REALITY.  THE QUESTION NOW IS NOT 
WHETHER SUCH AN ASSEMBLY WILL HAPPEN, BUT HOW AND UNDER WHAT 
CONDITIONS.  THE RECOGNITION OF THIS HAS FORCED MOST IMPORTANT 
POLITICAL ACTORS TO ACCEPT THE NECESSITY OF CHANGE, AND TO LOOK FOR 
A WAY TO LINK THEMSELVES TO THE REFORM PROCESS.  AT THE SAME TIME, 
CHAVEZ'S CONFRONTATIONAL TACTICS HAVE ACTIVATED NATURAL DEMOCRATIC 
DEFENSE MECHANISMS.  INSTITUTIONS, SUCH AS THE CONGRESS AND THE 
SUPREME COURT, ARE LEARNING HOW TO PUSH BACK WHEN SHOVED.  FOR 
INSTANCE, WHEN CHAVEZ "THREATENED" THE SUPREME COURT ON ITS PENDING 
REFERENDUM DECISION, CHIEF JUSTICE CECILIA SOSA PUBLICLY LECTURED 
CHAVEZ ON THE SEPARATION OF POWERS AND MADE IT VERY CLEAR THAT THE 
COURT WOULD NOT BE INTIMIDATED.  THAT MEETING WAS FOLLOWED BY A 
CHAVEZ VISIT TO THE SUPREME COURT, AFTER WHICH HE STATED THAT HE 
WOULD, OF COURSE, ACCEPT WHATEVER DECISION THE COURT MADE.  THE 
RESULT HAS BEEN A CLEARER DEFINITION OF THE INFLUENCE AND AUTHORITY 
OF THESE INSTITUTIONS.  ALSO, OPPOSITION TO THE GOVERNMENT IS 
FORMING IN THE CONGRESS AND ELSEWHERE.  THIS OPPOSITION, 
RECOGNIZING THE NECESSITY OF CHANGE, IS WORKING TO INFLUENCE THAT 
CHANGE, AND ENSURE THAT IT TAKES PLACE WITHIN A DEMOCRATIC AND 
CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK. 
 
----------------------- 
ADMINISTRATIVE FUMBLING 
----------------------- 
 
7.  (C) CHAVEZ'S SUCCESS IN DRIVING FORWARD HIS POLITICAL AGENDA 
HAS NOT BEEN MATCHED IN THE FORMATION OF HIS GOVERNMENT.  SLOW 
MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENTS, EVEN SLOWER SELECTION OF KEY DIRECTOR- 
LEVEL POSITIONS WITHIN MINISTRIES, AND THE PRESIDENT'S TENDENCY TO 
TALK TOO MUCH AND MAKE POLICY DURING PRESS CONFERENCES HAVE GIVEN 
THE FIRST MONTH OF GOVERNMENT AN AD HOC, IMPULSIVE QUALITY. 
 
8.  (C) LACKING A TESTED, LOYAL PARTY CADRE, AND FACED WITH AN 
ANXIOUS AND SOMETIMES INSOLENT GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY, CHAVEZ HAS 
HAD TO LOOK FOR NEW WAYS TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE MACHINERY OF 
GOVERNMENT.  ONE WAY HAS BEEN TO NAME FORMER MILITARY OFFICERS TO 
KEY POSITIONS WITHIN THE BUREAUCRACY.  HIS ADVERSARIES ACCUSE HIM 
OF "MILITARIZING" GOVERNMENT.  ANOTHER INTERPRETATION WOULD BE THAT 
HE IS USING PEOPLE HE KNOWS AND TRUSTS TO GAIN CONTROL AND SET 
DIRECTION.  IN SOME INSTANCES THIS STRATEGY HAS WORKED, IN OTHERS 
IT HAS NOT.  WHILE TRUSTWORTHY, MANY OF THE MILITARY APPOINTEES 
HAVE NO EXPERIENCE IN CIVILIAN MINISTRIES, HAVE LITTLE POLICY 
ORIENTATION, AND EVEN LESS UNDERSTANDING OF THE POLITICAL NATURE OF 
THEIR WORK.  THE RESULT HAS BEEN UNEVEN PERFORMANCE IN MANY 
MINISTRIES. 
 
9.  (C) IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT CHAVEZ IS IN THE PROCESS OF 
SHRINKING THE NUMBER OF MINISTRIES FROM 26 TO APPROXIMATELY 15, AND 
HAS DECIDED TO HOLD ALL MINISTRIES AND MINISTERS TO ACCOUNT.  THIS 
HAS NOT BEEN DONE IN THE PAST.  (HE ALSO HAS TO TACKLE THE PROMISED 
REDUCTION OF THE NUMBER OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, WHICH HE IS 
AVOIDING FOR THE TIME BEING.)  IN THIS REGARD, CHAVEZ HAS INVITED 
SCRUTINY WHICH, WHILE IMPORTANT TO THE PROCESS OF CHANGE, WILL BE 
PAINFUL FOR A NEW GOVERNMENT TRYING TO GET STARTED.  IN SHORT, IT 
WILL TAKE A WHILE FOR THE NEW GOVERNMENT TO SETTLE IN. 
 
----------------------------- 
CONTINUITY OF ECONOMIC POLICY 
----------------------------- 
 
10.  (C)  CHAVEZ'S CAMPAIGN RHETORIC HAD CREATED CONCERN WITHIN THE 
PRIVATE SECTOR THAT THE NEWLY-ELECTED PRESIDENT WOULD IMPLEMENT 
POPULIST ECONOMIC POLICY, DEEPENING VENEZUELA'S ALREADY SERIOUS 
ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.  DURING HIS FIRST FIVE WEEKS IN OFFICE, HOWEVER, 
CHAVEZ HAS STEERED CLEAR OF SUCH POLICY, DECIDING INSTEAD TO 
MAINTAIN THE REFORM-MINDED ECONOMIC POLICY OF HIS PREDECESSOR. 
SPECIFICALLY, CHAVEZ HAS: 
 
--  NAMED MARITZA IZAGUIRRE AS FINANCE MINISTER (SHE WAS CALDERA'S 
FINANCE MINISTER AND THE GOV'S LINK TO THE MULTILATERAL BANKS); 
 
--  REQUESTED, IN THE ENABLING LAW HE SUBMITTED TO CONGRESS, 
EMERGENCY POWERS TO REINFORCE IZAGUIRRE'S APPROACH TO VENEZUELA'S 
FISCAL CRISIS THROUGH COST CUTTING AND REVENUE RAISING MEASURES; 
 
--  LEFT ANTONIO CASAS AS DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL BANK 
 
--  MAINTAINED CASAS' SCORCHED-EARTH DEFENSE OF THE STRONG BOLIVAR; 
 
--  BEGUN TALKS WITH THE IMF. 
 
11.  (C) CHAVEZ, COGNIZANT THAT HE DOES NOT HAVE THE ECONOMIC 
WHEREWITHAL TO MEET VENEZUELA'S PRESSING SOCIAL NEEDS, IS 
ATTEMPTING TO ENHANCE GOVERNMENT REVENUES.  AGAIN, HE HAS FORSAKEN 
A POPULIST APPROACH.  INSTEAD, HE HAS: 
 
--  REQUESTED AUTHORITY TO IMPOSE NEW TAXES, INCLUDING A VALUE 
ADDED TAX, FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS TAX, AND REFORM OF THE INCOME TAX 
LAW; 
 
--  ORDERED IMPROVED TAX COLLECTION AT SENIAT AND CUSTOMS; 
 
--  LIMITED PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE INCREASES TO TWENTY PERCENT (BELOW 
THE 30 PERCENT INFLATION REGISTERED IN 1998, AND THE GOV'S LATEST 
PROJECTED INFLATION RATE OF 25 PERCENT IN 1999); 
 
--  AUTHORIZED THE STATE OIL COMPANY PDVSA TO BORROW USD 1 BILLION 
(WHICH MATCHES PDVSA'S ANTICIPATED ROYALTIES AND TAXES) ON THE 
INTERNATIONAL CAPITAL MARKETS; 
 
--  DECIDED TO FINANCE THE BS 800 BILLION DEFICIT FOR THE FIRST 
QUARTER OF 1999 THROUGH REDUCTION IN MONETARY STABILIZATION 
INSTRUMENT (TEMS) ISSUANCES AND AN EVEN GREATER EXPANSION IN 
ISSUANCE OF NATIONAL PUBLIC DEBT BONDS (DPNS). 
 
----------------- 
RACE AGAINST TIME 
----------------- 
 
12.  (C) CHAVEZ'S DECISION TO MAINTAIN CONTINUITY OF ECONOMIC 
POLICY IS DRIVEN BY THE PRIMACY OF HIS POLITICAL AGENDA.  CONCERNED 
THAT DRAMATIC ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ECONOMY WOULD EXPOSE HIM TO 
POLITICAL ATTACK, CHAVEZ HAS DECIDED TO PUSH HIS POLITICAL AGENDA 
AS FAR AND AS FAST AS HE CAN BEFORE TURNING TO DEAL WITH THE 
ECONOMY.  CONTINUITY OF ECONOMIC POLICY BUYS HIM SOME POLITICAL 
SPACE, SINCE THE CONSENSUS AROUND THIS POLICY ALREADY EXISTS. 
 
13.  (C) HOWEVER, CHAVEZ CAN ONLY CARRY THIS CONTINUITY FORWARD FOR 
SO LONG.  HE KNOWS THAT HIS GOVERNMENT SITS ON A CRUMBLING ECONOMIC 
BASE.  STILL DECLINING OIL PRICES AND SELF-IMPOSED PRODUCTION CUTS 
HAVE AGGRAVATED THE CURRENT RECESSION.  HIGH INTEREST RATES AND THE 
INCREASINGLY OVERVALUED EXCHANGE RATE HAVE UNDERMINED THE HEALTH OF 
THE MANUFACTURING, AGRICULTURAL, AND TOURISM SECTORS.  INFLATION IS 
STILL HIGH. 
 
14.  (C) ADDITIONALLY, CHAVEZ STILL HAS TO CONVINCE THE 
INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS (IFIS) AND THE FOREIGN BANKS 
THAT HE HAS THE POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SITUATION IN HAND, AND THE 
POLITICAL WILL TO MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS.  TO DO THIS HE NEEDS AN 
ARRANGEMENT WITH THE IMF AND PERSONAL EXPOSURE IN NEW YORK. 
CHAVEZ'S TWO POSTPONED VISITS HAVE HURT HIM, AND HE AND HIS TOP 
ADVISORS ARE ONLY NOW UNDERSTANDING HOW MUCH. 
 
15.  (C)  VENEZUELA'S BATTERED ECONOMIC AGENTS HAVE RESPONDED TO 
THESE WEAK ECONOMIC SIGNALS BY PREPARING FOR EVEN MORE DIFFICULT 
TIMES: 
 
--  INVESTORS CONTINUE TO SIT ON THEIR WALLETS; 
 
--  BANKS ARE PULLING BACK ON LOAN PORTFOLIOS AND INCREASING 
PROVISIONS FOR BAD DEBT; 
 
--  COMPANIES ARE SHUTTING DOWN PLANTS AND ASSEMBLY LINES AND 
LAYING OFF WORKERS TO REDUCE COSTS; 
 
--  WHOLESALERS AND RETAILERS ARE LOWERING PRICES TO CUT 
INVENTORIES; 
 
--  CONSUMERS ARE FORGOING LUXURY ITEMS, POSTPONING LARGE 
PURCHASES, AND PAYING OFF CONSUMER DEBT. 
 
16.  (C)  AS CHAVEZ ENTERS HIS SECOND MONTH OF GOVERNMENT, THE BIG 
QUESTION IS HOW LONG HE CAN POSTPONE MAJOR ECONOMIC REFORMS WHILE 
HE FULFILLS HIS POLITICAL AGENDA.  THE REFERENDUM FOR THE HOLDING 
OF A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY IS SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 25.  THE ELECTION 
OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE WRITING OF A NEW CONSTITUTION, A REFERENDUM TO 
ACCEPT THE NEW CONSTITUTION AND THE ELECTION OF A NEW CONGRESS WILL 
PROBABLY RUN THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR. 
 
17.  (C)  CHAVEZ'S EFFORTS TO MAINTAIN CONTINUITY OF ECONOMIC 
POLICY MAY NOT LAST THAT LONG.  THE GOV HAS ENOUGH INTERNAL DOLLAR 
RESOURCES (THE REMAINING USD 680 MILLION IN TREASURY BONDS RELEASED 
FROM THE 1997 GLOBAL BOND SWAP AND USD 160 MILLION IN NON- 
MONETARIZED GOLD) TO MEET VENEZUELA'S FOREIGN DEBT PAYMENTS THROUGH 
THE END OF MARCH.  AFTER THAT IT WILL HAVE TO RELY ON STATE OIL 
COMPANY PDVSA'S EFFORTS TO RAISE FUNDS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CAPITAL 
MARKETS AND THE CENTRAL BANK OF VENEZUELA'S DECLINING INTERNATIONAL 
RESERVES TO FINANCE FUTURE DEBT PAYMENTS.  THE PDVSA BORROWING WILL 
BE COSTLY (300 TO 400 BASIS POINTS OVER TREASURY RATES) BECAUSE THE 
MARKETS KNOW THAT THESE FUNDS WILL END UP IN THE GOV'S ACCOUNTS. 
THE GOV WILL ALSO HAVE TO RELY ON THE ISSUANCE OF ADDITIONAL DPNS 
TO MEET THE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL.  THIS QUIET SCRAMBLE FOR FOREIGN 
AND DOMESTIC RESOURCES SHOULD PAY THE GOV'S BILLS THROUGH THE END 
OF THE SECOND QUARTER. 
 
18.  (C)  AFTER THAT, IT IS TOO DIFFICULT TO PREDICT.  OIL PRICES 
MAY RECOVER, BUDGET CUTS AND REVENUE MEASURES MAY BEGIN TO TAKE 
EFFECT, AND THE GOV MAY BE ABLE TO MAKE IT TO THE END OF THE YEAR. 
ALTERNATIVELY, THE MARKET COULD LOOSE CONFIDENCE IN THE GOV'S 
ABILITY TO FINANCE ITS DEFICIT, PROVOKING A RUN ON THE BOLIVAR AND 
A SUDDEN LOSS OF RESERVES.  THIS COULD FORCE THE GOV TO IMPLEMENT 
PRICE AND EXCHANGE CONTROLS OR A MAXI-DEVALUATION.  THE RESULTING 
SURGE IN INFLATION COULD THEN UNDERMINE CHAVEZ' POLITICAL SUPPORT 
AND INVIGORATE HIS POLITICAL OPPOSITION IN THE MIDST OF THE 
POLITICAL REFORM PROCESS. 
 
----------------- 
WHAT IT ALL MEANS 
----------------- 
 
19.  (C) CHAVEZ WAS ELECTED TO BRING ABOUT SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL 
CHANGE IN VENEZUELA.  IT IS UP TO HIS GOVERNMENT, THROUGH 
CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE, IMPROVED GOVERNMENT, AND ECONOMIC REFORM, TO 
MAKE DEMOCRACY AND ITS INSTITUTIONS MEANINGFUL TO THE EVERYDAY 
CONCERNS OF VENEZUELANS.  HE UNDERSTANDS THAT HE IS THE 
CONSEQUENCE, AND NOT THE CAUSE, OF CHANGE IN VENEZUELA. 
 
20.  (C) HE ALSO UNDERSTANDS THAT HIS POLITICAL AGENDA IS MOVING 
THROUGH A NARROWING ECONOMIC SPACE.  HE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO 
COMPLETE HIS IMMEDIATE POLITICAL AGENDA BEFORE HE IS CAUGHT IN AN 
ECONOMY IN DEEP CRISIS.  HOWEVER, HE INTENDS TO GET AS FAR ALONG 
THE PATH OF POLITICAL CHANGE AS POSSIBLE.  AT THE LEAST, HE HOPES 
TO HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY IN PLACE THAT SUPPORTS HIS 
POLITICAL AGENDA. 
 
21.  (C) CHAVEZ'S FIRST FIVE WEEKS IN OFFICE HAVE BEEN DRAMATIC AND 
HIGHLY-CHARGED.  NO VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HAS BROUGHT SUCH 
EXPECTATION TO OFFICE.  NO VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HAS SET SUCH A HIGH 
STANDARD FOR HIMSELF AND HIS ADMINISTRATION.  NO VENEZUELAN 
PRESIDENT HAS EVER ANTICIPATED SUCH DIRE RESULTS SHOULD HE FAIL. 
GIVEN THIS, CHAVEZ'S IS OFF TO A DECENT START.  HOWEVER, TO 
SUCCEED, CHAVEZ MUST USE THE NEXT MONTHS TO MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM 
OF HIS POLITICAL AGENDA, IMPROVE HIS ADMINISTRATION, AND HOPE THE 
ECONOMY CONTINUES TO HOLD TOGETHER AS HIS INHERITED REFORMIST 
ECONOMIC POLICY, WITH HELP FROM THE IFIS AND FOREIGN BANKS, FALLS 
INTO PLACE.  THIS IS A TALL ORDER, BUT ONE THAT HE APPEARS TO BE 
DOGGEDLY COMMITTED TO CARRY THROUGH. 
 
 
MAISTO 

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