redistribution and the road to re-election in Venezuela
The New York Times reports on Venezuela President Hugo Chávez’s program to give homes to down-on-their-luck Venezuelans in an article titled, “Extreme Home Makeover: Chávez Edition.” From the article:
The giveaways are a prime example of how Mr. Chávez has been able to maintain popular support for nearly 14 years, despite out-of-control crime, erratic basic services and stubborn poverty. By making a show of delivering new homes to some, he keeps alive hope among many others that they too might some day benefit from the same largess.
Recovering from cancer treatments, Mr. Chávez has been far less visible in public than at any other time of his presidency. But his housing giveaways continue, whether he is there to personally hand over the keys to the dwellings himself or not. He finances the new homes with the country’s vast oil income and promotes the giveaways through the “Housing Thursday” broadcasts and television commercials that are essentially government-paid ads for Mr. Chávez’s candidacy. He recently gave a new apartment to a woman for becoming his three millionth follower on Twitter.
For a more thorough treatment from a political science perspective, see Sylvia and Danopoulos’s 2003 article (gated) published in Third World Quarterly, titled “The Chávez phenomenon: Political change in Venezuela.”