Monitor: All The News Of The World: International press comment on the challenges facing Venezuela following the flooding of the last few days

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The Independent Culture
El Nacional

It is true that nature does not have the capacity to distinguish between the rich and the poor. But in the face of catastrophes like the one we are now experiencing, the defencelessness of the economically deprived is greater than that of those who are more materially privileged. Nonetheless, in the midst of this national drama, it is not impossible to appreciate, as a positive sign, the united mobilisation of our country in the face of calamity. This mobilisation could be interpreted, not only as a demonstration of human and institutional solidarity, but also as a capacity to respond swiftly in times of emergency. Many sons of our country have fallen and our lament for their absence will take a long time to subside. But their deaths will not be in vain. This is not about mending fractures but about building new communities on fresh, solid foundations. (Venezuela)

El Tiempo

Just a year after he came to power, President Hugo Chvez has sown the seeds of an authentic peaceful revolution. He has swept to victory in five elections, he continues to enjoy the support of the masses and he has already replaced the moribund constitution he first fought against with his attempted coup d'etat and later with his electoral landslide. He has begun to build a political regime in which the protagonists of the past, the Democratic Action and Copei parties, practically don't exist. The Chvez era, which could go on for 13 years, has begun in earnest. With the old regime banished from sight, Chvez will be judged by his acts, by his management of situations as unexpected and as serious as the floods of recent days, which destroyed the north coast of Caracas, left between 15,000 and 20,000 dead and forced 100,000 victims to flee. The tragedy, just like the urgent need to rebuild the economy without giving in to populist pressures, has put the government's abilities to the test. And it is in there, in its handling of the economy and of social problems, that the peaceful revolution will be judged before history. (Columbia)

El Universal

After the occurrence of the tragedy it is very easy to appear remorseful and to show concern for human destiny. But any halfway efficient government should have taken a certain number of previsions and not let itself be surprised by atmospheric conditions that were sufficiently foretold. Don't urban planning and military strategists know what to do ahead of time with the weather report? Our true punishment is not only the floods and rains, but the leaders that we irrationally choose. (Venezuela)

Miami Herald

This disaster will test President Hugo Chvez's leadership and ability to deliver on his sweeping promises to create a new day for oil-rich Venezuela, especially for the poor and dispossessed whose support swept him into office. In Venezuela, Mr Chvez's critics call the disaster an ill omen with which to start his new administration. Some say that more could have been done to anticipate the disaster, plan for it and begin getting people out of harm's way. Rains had pelted the country for weeks, and the construction of shantytowns on the mountainsides was a prescription for disaster. Instead, the critics say, Mr Chvez spent far too much time ensuring the success of the constitutional referendum and far too little time heeding warnings of impending floods. In fairness, Mr Chvez cannot be blamed for all the destruction that grips Venezuela. But he can and will be judged on how skilled he is in meeting the terrible challenge. (United States)

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