When Hugo Chavez first came to power in Venezuela in 1999, he faced the difficult task of dealing with a high level of poverty and crime in the country. His aim was to reduce both through social initiatives. Despite these, insecurity remains extremely high, however his popularity has been solid because of several popular projects.
14 years after being re-elected for a third term in office, the Caracas cable car was inaugurated , which connects the lower income areas of the city high in the hills with the downtown districts. José Castañeda, head of a community council described how the “Comandante” gave them the money for the project that according to him “made history” and anybody who will use it in the future will remember him.
The most popular social programme introduced by Hugo Chavez is the network of state run low cost supermarkets called MERCAL. The State produces or imports the goods in the stores and heavily subsidizes them. This has permitted those on low incomes to buy products at an affordable price.
These expensive initiatives have been paid for by a series of nationalisation programmes in the economy.