Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Remembering the Legacy of Hugo Chavez

I see that Hugo Chavez has lost his long battle with cancer.

Venezuela’s government announced the death of President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday, ending 14 years of charismatic rule by the firebrand socialist but leaving his party firmly in control of the nation. 

Vice President Nicolas Maduro’s voice broke several times and tears ran down his face as he appeared on national television to announce that Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. local time (3:55 p.m EST;1755 GMT) “after battling tough with an illness over nearly two years.”

And I for one will miss him, for he was quite a character, and quite a leader.

He spent billions on housing, education, and health care for his country's poor. He sent free oil to Cuba to help them cope with the brutal American embargo. And free oil to America to help the poor cope with winter. 

Kennedy praised Chavez, CITGO and Venezuela as the only company and the only country that responded to his appeals for help to assist low-income households with their rising heating costs. “I don’t see Exxon responding. I don’t see other major oil companies heating the homes of the poor,” said Kennedy.

And most importantly he helped transform Latin America into the most left-wing region on earth, and break the hegemony of the United States.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter released a statement saying Chavez "will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments." "We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized," Carter wrote. "Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chavez's commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen."

And when I saw this clip today, I had to laugh just as I did the first time...

For he was funny and he was right. Bush WAS a devil, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Chavez wasn't perfect of course, he was a caudillo in the best tradition of Latin America. And caudillos and democracy as we know it, are not always the perfect fit. 

But he was elected democratically, and loved by most of his people.The right-wingers who are celebrating today are the same ones who supported brutal fascist dictatorships from Guatemala to Argentina that tortured and murdered millions. So who are they to talk?

And who is Stephen Harper to lecture ANYONE on democracy?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement offering his condolences to Venezuela's citizens. "At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights," the statement said.

When our would be Canadian caudillo is just a tool of Big Oil, who hated Chavez with a passion because he nationalized their oil fields. 

Him and his Con thugs are muzzling our freedoms, wrecking our democracy, waging war on the poor, have no respect for the law or human rights.

Great Patriotic Leader is nothing but a boot licking stooge.

Who would do ANYTHING to please the Americans. 

And nobody could ever accuse Hugo Chavez of doing that eh?

Yup. He was born in a mud hut, but rose to be quite the character on the world stage. He stood up for his country and his continent. He took on Big Oil, the corrupt businessmen of the Venezuelan opposition, and the CIA. He survived them all, and until the very end he was always larger than life.

And always laughing at those who would destroy him.

History will judge him far more kindly than it does Harper. 

The poor people loved him. 

And he will be remembered... 

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  1. Anonymous9:35 PM

    Very sad but he saved them for themselves

    1. hi anonymous...yes it is sad, for he was quite a fighter, 58 is too young to die, and whatever anyone thinks of Chavez nobody can deny that his heart was in the right place...

  2. Harper is the most disgusting excuse for a leader, and an international embarrassment to all thinking Canadians...what a joke..he can only dream of having the sorts of support numbers that Chavez enjoyed..
    I will miss Chavez, he was one of the good guys, who put his people first and improved education and life in general for the poorest of his fellow Venezuelans - would that we had a leader with such lofty ambitions....

    1. hi mizdarlin...yes I thought it was particularly cheap of Harper to put out that kind of statement. The man really hasn't an ounce of class. Hugo Chavez was much bigger and better man than Harper is or could ever hope to be...

  3. Anonymous9:30 AM

    As someone with family in Venezuela and who is a real socialist I cringe when I see praise for Chavez. He used the country as his own personal piggy bank and we saw increased poverty and crime under his regime. Infrastucture is crumbling in the country. The man changed the constitution so he could be dictator for life and ruled with military force and squashed freedom of the press.

    1. hi anonymous...I respect your opinion but I don't share it. As I said in my post Chavez was a larger than life populist and not your classic socialist. It's also true that crime in Venezuela is a real and frightening problem. But Chavez did help many of that country's poorest people, and remember the right went after him like an animal, tried to overthrow him, and in that kind of atmosphere you can't expect the left to just roll over and meekly surrender. Venezuela is Venezuela, not Sweden....

  4. Crime is also a terrible problem in neighbouring Colombia.

    I'm very sad about the death of Chávez, despite his shortcomings - not a dictator, but a "strongman", yes, with all the macho decisions from above that implies - though in general they were decisions favourable to the mass of the Venezuelan people, who were living in utter misery despite Venezuela's petroleum wealth. And his friendship with some characters who were far from progressive, such as the Iranian leadership - it isn't because Washington and Israel hate someone that he is necessarily a good guy!

    But Chávez was deeply committed to social justice and the well-being of the mass of the people, so many of whom had no access to education, health care or housing - many living in cardboard and scrap metal shacks. Few countries have ever equalled his government's succeess in reducing poverty, especially dire poverty.

    He was also a driving force between bringing many Latin American countries together in economic and political blocs that are doing much to challenge US hegemony in the region.

    And a funny - Canadian MSM chiding Chávez for over-dependency on oil revenues!

  5. hi lagatta...I completely agree with you, Chavez definitely had some shortcomings, and his choice of some of his friends like the gang from Tehran, definitely left something to be desired. But I jusge him for what he did for the poor, because poverty is violence, and when I see how grateful they are for what he did for them it moves me greatly. It's the same way I feel about Cuba, a country I know quite well. It may not be a democratic ideal, but when I look at how there are no hungry children in that country, unlike the millions in other parts of Latin America, I know that like Chavez they have their hearts in the right place. And I'm proud of the Latin American countries who have thrown off the imperialist patronage of the Americans, and are
    standing up for themselves, and solving their problems their way...

  6. Anonymous2:32 AM

    Chavez may have been determined not to be beholden to oil profits like Bolivar was to slavery thus not making him a total hypocrite to his otherwise progressive aims.