A democratically elected Chavez

A leftist trend continues in South America, as Hugo Chavez is re-elected in Venezuela.

Earlier this week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez secured his third term in office with a commanding win over rival Manual Rosales. His re-election, not surprisingly, has stirred the wrath of many Western countries, especially the United States, as they continue to view Chavez as a threat to the stability of South America. However, the election results are louder than any words from the opposition and the United States needs to respect the democratic will of the Venezuelan people.

Chavez, who won elections in both 1998 and 2000, continues the leftist trend in South America as he becomes the fourth leftist to win an election in the region in recent weeks. The U.S. government has already voiced its strong opposition to the elections and is left wondering why the Venezuelans continue to support Chavez so ardently.

The reason Chavez won the election is simple: He brought politics to the masses. His ideas and programs cater to the millions of Venezuelans who have been neglected by his predecessors, giving the very people who had been ignored throughout history a voice. His programs are directed at the daily problems of the poor, such as illiteracy, lack of land and inferior health care. Most importantly, Chavez has been able to use oil revenues to advance social welfare in the country, giving 12 percent of the revenue back to the people compared to 1 percent of previous administrations.

At the same time, however, Chavez has many flaws. His inflammatory speeches have divided a nation and isolated Venezuela from many Western nations. To achieve true social justice, Chavez needs to use more diplomatic methods to attain social equality. Silencing and threatening all those who oppose him in the country only further contributes to his reputation as an authoritarian despot.

Nevertheless, Chavez is the legitimate leader of Venezuela, chosen directly by the people. It is hilarious and tragic to hear people dismiss democracy just because it doesn’t serve their own interests. Democracy is democracy, whether it helps the United States or not. Elections are over and the Venezuelans have emphatically made their choice. It’s called democracy, people.