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View Diary: Deterring Democracy In Venezuela (118 comments)

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    ‘President Chavez’s performance in office continues to be viewed positively by nearly two-thirds of the population, despite a 70% rejection of the non-renewal of the TV broadcast license of RCTV, according to the Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis. Also, a new Latinobarometro poll finds that Latin Americans view Venezuela as the friendliest country in the Americas.

    64.7% of Venezuelans viewed Chavez’s performance in office positively in March and 29.6% viewed it negatively, explained Datanalisis Director Luis Vicente Leon to Venezuela’s foreign press association today. The survey was conducted between March 12 and 23, among 1,300 Venezuelans of all socio-economic levels, with a margin of error of 2.7%.

    A breakdown of the population’s perception of the country’s current situation shows that opinions about Venezuela are still sharply divided along class lines. In the country’s upper class—known as "A/B" among Venezuelan demographers—only 38.2% of this group views the country’s situation positively. The perception is progressively more positive, the lower people’s income, so that in the country’s largest and poorest class, known as "E," 68.9% view the country’s situation positively.

    However, when asked how Venezuelans view their personal situation, an overwhelming majority (over 60%) in all classes view it as positive.

    While Chavez continues to enjoy high levels of support, opposition parties are the least respected institutions in the country, with only 26.8% of the population viewing them positively. Among the most favorably viewed institutions are the church, at 80%, and private enterprise, between 75 and 88%, depending on the sector.

    With regard to the government’s performance in various areas, the most favorable areas were social programs, such as in education, food, and health, with approval ratings of 68.8%, 64.7%, and 64.2% respectively. The government received its lowest score in the area of providing personal security, with a mere 8.4% approval rating.

    Another area where the government received a low approval rating was its decision not to renew the broadcast license of the private TV channel RCTV, whose license expires on May 27th. Nearly 70% of Venezuelans disapprove of the decision, while only 16.4% support it. The RCTV survey was conducted separately between April 9 and 16.

    According to Leon, RCTV is the country’s most popular TV channel and those who watch the channel are much more concerned about losing its soap operas and game shows than its political programming. "Chavez will not come out of this unhurt with regard to his popularity," said Leon and added that this was perhaps the most unpopular decision Chavez has made during his entire presidency...

    Another poll that was released recently is a study by Latinobarometro, a Chilean NGO that conducts annual surveys of political opinion in all of Latin America. According to their latest survey of how friendly Latin Americans perceive each other, Venezuela and Brazil were viewed as the two friendliest countries.

    The country perceived as the least friendly is the U.S. When broken down by country, though, the perception of the U.S. is quite divided with some, such as Venezuela (53.0%), Argentina (38.0%), Mexico (33.0%), Bolivia (24.0%), and Brazil (20.0%) expressing the least confidence in the U.S. Others, though, express strong sympathy with the U.S., such as Panama (62%), Dominican Republic (52.0%), El Salvador (52.0%), Colombia (42.0%), and Costa Rica (38.0%).

    Of all countries in Latin America, Venezuela made the largest leap in the past eight years, from a relatively low friendliness perception of only 4% to the highest spot in the list, at 8%.

    According to Marta Lago, the director of Latinobarometro, this has something to do with Chavez’s foreign policy, which has focused much on reaching out to and integrating Latin American countries. "It calls to one’s attention how Chavez sets the agenda of Latin America because the friends [countries] that are perceived in Latin America are the friends of Chavez," said Lagos, referring to Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba, which top off the list together with Venezuela.’


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