El poder popular y la democracia participativa en Venezuela: los Consejos Comunales

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Available from: Maria Pilar Garcia Guadilla, May 19, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: This article assesses popular mobilization under the Chávez government's participatory initiatives in Venezuela using data from the AmericasBarometer survey of 2007. This is the first study of the so-called Bolivarian initiatives using nationally representative, individual-level data. The results provide a mixed assessment. Most of the government's programs invite participation from less active segments of society, such as women, the poor, and the less educated, and participation in some programs is quite high. However, much of this participation clusters within a narrow group of activists, and a disproportionate number of participants are Chávez supporters. This partisan bias probably reflects self-screening by Venezuelans who accept Chávez's radical populist discourse and leftist ideology, rather than vote buying or other forms of open conditionality. Thus, the Venezuelan case suggests some optimism for proponents of participatory democracy, but also the need to be more attuned to its practical political limits.
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    ABSTRACT: This article critically examines the role of community media movements in articulating state–civil society relations in the establishment of a popular radical democracy in Venezuela. We employ institutional analysis and a frame-alignment approach to understand how community and alternative media (CAM) advocates negotiated issues of identity and autonomy from the state in the creation of the National System of Popular, Alternative, and Community Communication between 2008 and 2009. The analysis revealed that CAM groups reasserted unmet demands for access to the spectrum and autonomy from state agencies, while amplifying the government's “anti-imperialist conflict frame” as a rationale for increased popular participation in the media. We discuss the democratic potential of these policies and the populist public sphere in Venezuela.
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