In Venezuela, an election and more of the same

A man reads a newspaper on the victory of the new Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro on April 15, 2013. Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro declared victory on Sunday in the race to succeed late leader Hugo Chavez after the electoral council announced that he had won in a close battle.

Venezuelans elected a president over the weekend. Nicolas Maduro, the hand-picked successor of Hugo Chavez won a narrow victory over Henrique Capriles, a pro-business candidate.

And on the Monday after the elections? "It's rather quiet everywhere," says Daniel Duquenal, a blogger and small business owner based in Yaracuy. "And that also happened last year when Chavez was reelected. On that Monday, it was more like a funeral, the mood, than any victory celebration."

Duquenal has been critical of Chavez's government in posts he has written over the last ten years. He also acknowledges that "whoever won would be faced with very difficult choices," as Venezuela continues to weather a rocky economy. But he had hoped that under Capriles, Venezuela would end Cuban aid -- which reaches into the billions of dollars -- and weapon purchases. Duquenal sites these as sources of graft and corruption in the country. Even if Capriles couldn't balance the budget, it would be more manageable.

As a business owner, Duquenal expects more of the same -- a tough economy in which to do business in. "Whatever profits my business did last year has been completely wiped out and we're in obligation to reduce our payroll."

How does he stay optimistic? He feels he has to. "You do have an obligation to your employees. I can be extremely depressed but I still need to go and fight because I need to make payroll." Even though about half his employees are Chavistas and supporters of the newly elected president.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.


I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...