Inside Story Americas

Hugo Chavez's economic legacy

What does the future hold for the Bolivarian revolution?
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2013 16:36

Massive crowds gathered on Wednesday as the coffin carrying President Hugo Chavez's body was driven through the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

"Hugo Chavez did defy economic gravity .... In general it would be foolish to predict that the Venezuelan economy is going to collapse any time soon."

- Hal Weitzman, the executive director for Intellectual Capital, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

The announcement of his death on Tuesday followed three months of uncertainty, speculation and rumor as he battled with cancer in seclusion.

The date of a new presidential election will be announced within 30 days.

Chavez easily won re-election last October, and his preferred successor, Nicolas Maduro, the country's vice president, currently leads in the polls.

But he is no Chavez, and the opposition candidate, Henrique Caprilles, is hoping to capitalise on that. Whether the various factions of the opposition can unite once again is another question.

"Is charisma something you can transfer to someone else, it's a legacy? No. So it remains to be seen if Maduro can wear the shoes of Chavez."

- Sonia Schott, an independent Venezuelan journalist and political analyst

Hugo Chavez leaves behind a country transformed from that he inherited.

But did he leave the basis for a smooth transition of power? And what will happen to the Bolivarian revolution?

Joining Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, to discuss the economic legacy of Hugo Chavez are guests: Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research; and Hal Weitzman, the author of Latin Lessons: How South America Stopped Listening to the United States and Started Prospering who is also the executive director for Intellectual Capital, University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Joining us to discuss the beginning of the post-Chavez era in Venezuela are guests: Gregory Wilpert, the founder and Editor of VenezuelaAnalysis.com; Miguel Tinker Salas, the author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture and Society in Venezuela; and Sonia Schott, an independent Venezuelan journalist and political analyst.

"If you look at the last decade there have only been two recessions .... it's done pretty well in that time period. Per capita income has grown about 2.5 percent annually, which is pretty good even compared to the rest of Latin America. It's vastly better than what they had before Chavez ...."

Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research


Chavez led the Bolivarian Revolution for 14 years. Now three key people are looking forward to Venezuela's future:

  • Vice president, Nicholas Maduro is Chavez's preferred successor. He started out as a bus driver in Caracas and rose through the labour movement to become minister of foreign affairs. He met Chavez in the early 1990s when he campaigned to get the young lieutenant out of jail.

  • Diosdado Cabello is the president of Venezuela's National Assembly. He is also the vice president of Chavez's socialist party. A military man, he fought alongside Chavez in a failed coup attempt in 1992 and helped restore him to power following a US-backed coup in 2002.

  • Henrique Capriles ran against Chavez as the opposition's unity candidate in October. The 40-year-old lost to Chavez by a 10 vote margin. He governs the wealthy state of Miranda which borders Caracas. He was jailed during the 2002 coup for allowing protesters to lay siege to the Cuban embassy where government officials were hiding.


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