Unveiling Organizational Visions
Edited by Christina Garsten and Monica Lindh de Montoya
Chapter 13: Transparency as Tool and Weapon: The Case of the Venezuelan Presidential Recall Referendum
Miguel Montoya In August of 2004, Venezuela held a recall referendum in which citizens voted on whether or not to remove President Hugo Chávez from his post. This chapter discusses the events leading up to and following the referendum, which was the upshot of a lengthy struggle between the government and its supporters, or oﬁcialistas, and the opposition to the government, a diverse movement composed of civil society, political parties and other associations such as labour unions.1 The Venezuelan opposition began to organize and grow in strength as a movement beginning in early 2001, as part of the population, primarily the middle class, began to feel that government policies were becoming increasingly antagonistic to democratic freedoms and the market economy.2 I will discuss the ideas of transparency and opacity, how these were used during the referendum, and the consequences for political processes in the country. West and Sanders point out that transparency is bound up with a series of regimens or ideological positions such as ﬁscal accountability, free trade, the rule of law, democracy, a free press and human rights (2003, p. 12). Indeed, it has long been a cornerstone of a wide array of processes and institutions nearly unquestioned in democratic societies, and has only more recently become a subject of closer academic and public examination. As citizens’ participation in electoral politics is decreasing and alternative modes of exerting power and inﬂuence over political actors and the environment are being sought, the transparency of public and...
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