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Venezuela: Hugo Chávez Marks 12 Years in Office

President Hugo Chávez Frías. Image by Flickr user Bernardo Londoy, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

You don't need to live in Venezuela to notice that ideological differences have divided the country into two different nations. While it is true that every country should have different points of view, political parties and groups for and against the current administration to have a healthy state where important discussions can take place, Venezuela has become a phenomenon which transcends the differences that could be considered “normal” in any other Latin American country today. The only thing these two sides have in common is ironically their president, Hugo Chávez, who on February 2, 2011 celebrated 12 years in power.

This division is tangible on the walls of every street in the country. At the same time, through social networks the world has witnessed the arguments in what we call society 2.0: Venezuelans have made Twitter their platform to discuss the country's situation and what for one side means 12 years of the government's mistakes, and for the other the revolution's accomplishments. Luis Vicente León (@luisvicenteleon), director of Datanálisis [es] (Market Research Company), declares:

12 años después Venezuela esta dividida en dos mitades, pero una tiene más plata, poder, control y cohesión.

12 years later Venezuela is divided in two halves, but one has more money, power, control and cohesion

One just has to look at the tweets from February 2 to notice this division. On the one hand, Sonia Aguirre (@soniaguir) asks:

¿Cómo se puede celebrar la mediocridad??? 12 Años haciéndolo es como demasiado, verdad????

How can they celebrate mediocrity?? 12 years doing that is a bit too much, right???

Domingo Sifontes (@dsifontes) says:

Por que Esteban [nombre que hace referencia al presidente por los ciudadanos opositores] se mereceria otra oportunidad? si la tuvo y la desperdicio dividiendo el/al pais. Esta como el esposo q le pega a su pareja.

With would Esteban [a name the opposition uses to refer to the president] deserve another chance? he had it and he wasted it by dividing the country. He is like a husband that beats his wife.

Luis Manuel González (@Luismac) comments:

12 años… Sin paz

12 years…without peace

The other side celebrated 12 years of the revolution. FFM, Frente Francisco de Miranda [es], (@fmm_oficial) reports:

En 12 años de Revolución Bolivariana Gobierno Nacional ha construido más de 500 escuelas http://bit.ly/hXfHyD#12revolución

In 12 years Boliviarian Revolution the National Government has built more than 500 schools http://bit.ly/hXfHyD#12revolution

Oscar José Armas G. (@OJarmas) writes:

#12REVOLUCION de libertad y de liberacion de cadenas…..

#12REVOLUTION of freedom and of breaking chains….

Constanza Harding V (@ConstanzaHV) shares her feelings about the anniversary with an emoticon:

#12REVOLUCION

These marked differences are noticeable every day; they are what Venezuela has become in 12 years.

Maria Belén Otero (@mariabelenotero) takes figures reported on the newspaper El Nacional and adds them to a list called “#CifrasdelDictador” [#TheDictator'sFigures] [es]:

#CifrasdelDictador: 15 millones de armas ilegales hay actualmente en el país. #ElNacional 13/08/10

#CifrasdelDictador: En los últimos 10 años los homicidios se incrementaron en 134% en Venezuela. #ElNacional 14/08/10

#CifrasdelDictador: El secuestro pasó de 44 casos en 1999 a 795 denuncias en 2009, lo que representa un aumento de 1.707%. #ElNacional 14/08/10

#CifrasdelDictador: El aumento de 1.707% de secuestros en el últimos 10 años no considera la cifra negra, que son los casos no denunciados. #ElNacional 14/08/10

#CifrasdelDictador: Cada 27 minutos un venezolano es víctima mortal de la violencia: 52 al día. #ElNacional 20/08/10

#TheDictator'sFigures: There are currently 15 million illegal weapons in the country. #ElNacional 13/08/10

#TheDictator'sFigures: In the last 10 years homicides have increased by 134% in Venezuela. #ElNacional 14/08/10

#TheDictator'sFigures: Kidnappings went from 44 cases in 1999 to 795 complaints in 2009, which represents a 1,707% increase. #ElNacional 14/08/10

#TheDictator'sFigures: The increase of 1,707% in kidnappings in the last 10 years does not include the unreported cases. #ElNacional 14/08/10

#TheDictator'sFigures: Every 27 minutes a Venezuelan is a mortal victim of violence: 52 per day. #ElNacional 20/08/10

From an opposite perspective, Venezuelan Analysis published an article by  Gregory Wilpert where he argues that,

Venezuela has made significant progress in the past 12 years of Chavez’s presidency towards creating a more egalitarian, inclusive, and participatory society

Wilpert goes on to name the government's advances in the political, economic, and social realms, as well as on the realm of international relations. He also reviews the shortcomings and obstacles the government has faced in these last 12 years.

The anniversary of the 12-year rule of Hugo Chavez has exposed once again the division Venezuela is facing. Some hope that Venezuela will continue the course that has been set in these 12 years, while others yearn for change to come as soon as possible. Venezuelans will go to the polls again in December of 2012 to decide the future of the Venezuelan government.

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