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Considering the role of the social missions in Venezuelan Politics

When we visited Venezuela three months ago, we learned that Venezuela is an extraordinarily polarized country. Citizens who voted in the referendum against Chavez, who live on one side of the political divide, tended to oppose his social policies and to express embarrassment at the manner in which he represented the country overseas and on the global stage. Citizens who support Chavez, who benefit from his social missions, tended to express pride in his performance in office. None of this is surprising. An article in the Financial Times reminds us, however, how much of Venezuela’s future is staked upon the success of the social missions and their ability to provide medical care and income to the impoverished millions who have previously been left out in Venezuela. These Venezuelans are the most energetic supporters of his policies and are the backbone of his political support.

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