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Yesterday, Aragua state governor Tareck el Aissami raised eyebrows when he suggested that poverty helped the PSUV become popular. During an event in a small town in the state, el Aissami said:

The poorer they are, the more loyal they are to the revolution and the more they love Chavez. The poorer the people are, the more loyal they are to the revolutionary project.

In particular, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles took issue with el Aissami’s comments. Capriles said:

… they [the PSUV] are interested in keeping people poor because it is through the poor that the government is maintained.

Capriles stressed that the crises the country is suffering through – scarcity, inflation and unemployment to name three – have not been addressed properly by the government, and that:

… we don’t have enough money, you can’t find basic products. That’s why we should unite to get out of this crisis. Everything has increased in price and the government hasn’t given any sign that it’s going to change, and this shows what they are really interested in…

On the topic of the upcoming 2015 parliamentary elections, Capriles urged all Venezuelans to take part in the electoral process, saying:

Everything passes through parliament (…) remember that we [boycotted] the 2005 parliamentary elections and the National Assembly elected then is the one that approved all the laws from which we suffer today.

Opinion

el Aissami’s comments yesterday regarding the loyalty of the poor are really interesting. While I don’t necessarily agree that the PSUV is actively working to keep Venezuelans as poor as possible, I do believe that el Aissami’s reasoning raises some really troubling question.

As Diosdado Cabello likes to say, the opposition cannot and will not be allowed back into power. The Venezuela the PSUV envisions is one in which the PSUV governs. In order for the PSUV to govern, it must have loyal supporters. According to el Aissami, the poorer people are, the more loyal they are to the PSUV. In order to have the most loyal supporters, people must be poor.

Conversely, if there are no poor people, there are no PSUV supporters.

The logic flowing from el Aissami’s comments isn’t difficult to piece together. While his comments alone might not be definitive evidence of a plot to keep Venezuelans poor, they do beg the question: What does the PSUV value more – prosperous Venezuelans, or loyal supporters?

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