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The Chávez Election

•, By Steve Ellner

“You pay back a favour with favours,” said Joanna Figueroa, a resident of El Viñedo, a barrio in the coastal city of Barcelona in eastern Venezuela. She had pledged to work for the reelection of Hugo Chávez after receiving a house as part of the government’s ambitious Great Housing Mission programme. She helped build it, as part of a “workers team” that included a bricklayer, a plumber and an electrician appointed by her community council. Her job was to mix cement. As Chávez followers keep saying of their feelings toward their president, “You pay back love with love.” The frequency with which the phrase is used shows the deep emotional bond that exists between Chávez and many Venezuelans.

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