Hugo Chavez dead(36 Posts)
I just came on here to start this!
Thinking of our friends who are working for development in the Caracas slums - and hoping a lot that this news doesn't make things any harder for them (political pressure, demonstrations etc).
It's the end of an era for Vzla. I'm really hoping that the next won't be too hard for anyone!
Hugo Chavez was a truly evil man to many. I dread the sugar coated news of his alleged "do gooder" accomplishments.
Horrible horrible man.
Horrible horrible man is a silly 'analysis'. Chavez was part of a much wider anti-imperialist movement in Latin America (like it or not...and I do like it more than the warring imperilaists and their allies). This will have big implications for the region.
Daily Mash ...Guardian readers pay tribute to man who would have banned the Guardian...
Goodbye Hugo Chavez, just one of many who used democracy to rise to power and then promptly ruled as a dictator.
It must have been a great personal sadness that the US largely ignored him, thus taking away an excellent excuse for his very many failures.
I see that his successor is already sabre-rattling.
> Goodbye Hugo Chavez, just one of many who used democracy to rise to power and then promptly ruled as a dictator.
What, used democracy 15 times?
Chavez actually lifted millions of people out of poverty, and substantially increased literacy rates in the country.
Hugo Chavez proves you can lead a progressive, popular government that says no to neo-liberalism
Is all the Western media coverage that portrays him as a dictator by chance related to his politics? Here in Venezuela, the truth is very clear to see
If much of the Western media is to believed, I write this column from a country brutalised by an absurd tinpot caudillo, Hugo Chavez, who routinely jails any journalist or politician with the temerity to speak out against his tyranny.
According to Toby Young, Venezuela is ruled by a Marxist tyrant and a Communist dictator. Chavezs defeated opponent in Sundays presidential elections, Henrique Capriles, was portrayed by contrast as an inspiring, dynamic democrat determined to end Venezuelas failed socialist experiment and open the country to much-needed foreign investment.
The reality of Venezuela could not be more distant from the coverage, but the damage is done: even many on the left regard Chavez as beyond the pale. Those who challenge the narrative are dismissed as useful idiots, following in the footsteps of the likes of Beatrice and Sidney Webb who, in the 1930s, lauded Stalins Russia, oblivious to the real horrors.
Venezuela is a funny sort of dictatorship. The private media enjoys a 90 per cent audience share and routinely pump out vitriolic anti-Chavez propaganda, pro-opposition areas are plastered with billboards featuring Capriles smiling face, and jubilant anti-Chavez rallies are a regular event across the country.
Venezuelans went to the polls on Sunday for the 15th time since Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1999: all of those previous elections were judged as free by international observers, including ex-US President Jimmy Carter, who described the countrys election process as the best in the world. When Chavez lost a constitutional referendum in 2007, he accepted the result. Before his massive registration drives, many poor people could not vote. In stark contrast to most Western democracies, over 80 per cent of Venezuelans turned out to vote in Sundays presidential elections.
Even opponents of Chavez told me that he is the first Venezuelan president to care about the poor. Since his landslide victory in 1998, extreme poverty has dropped from nearly a quarter to 8.6 per cent last year; unemployment has halved; and GDP per capita has more than doubled. Rather than ruining the economy as his critics allege oil exports have surged from $14.4bn to $60bn in 2011, providing revenue to spend on Chavezs ambitious social programmes, the so-called missions.
His critics attack him for his association with autocrats and tyrants such as Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad and Assad.
His critics attack him for his association with autocrats and tyrants such as Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad and Assad. They have a point, but given the Wests own support for dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kazakhstan whose regime is currently paying Tony Blair $13m a year for PR services a giant glasshouse looms behind them. Venezuelas main allies are fellow Latin American democracies, themselves ruled by progressive governments that Chavez helped inspire, such as Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Thats not to say that Venezuela is free of problems, or even close. Security was the main concern of Venezuelans I spoke to, and little wonder: violent crime has surged, with up to 20,000 people murdered last year. An ineffective and often corrupt local police and justice system, the spill over from conflict in neighbouring Colombia, and a society with more guns than people are largely to blame. The government is beginning to roll out a national police force, but urgent action is clearly required.
But when it comes to his relationship with his opposition, Chavez has arguably been pretty lenient. Many of them including Capriles were involved in a US-backed, Pinochet-style military coup in 2002, which failed only after Chavezs supporters took to the streets. It was incited and supported by much of the private media: I wonder what would happen to Sky News and ITN if they had egged on a coup détat against a democratically elected government in Britain. Five years later, the government refused to renew the licence of one broadcaster, RCTV, because of its role in the coup. Even many Chavistas acknowledge that it was a tactical mistake, but I wonder how many governments would tolerate TV stations advocating their armed overthrow.
Venezuelas oligarchs froth at the mouth with their hatred of Chavez, but the truth is his government has barely touched them. The top rate of tax is just 34 per cent, and tax evasion is rampant. Why do they despise him? As Chavezs vice-minister for Europe, Temir Porras, puts it to me, its because the people who clean their houses are now politically more important than them. Under Chavez, the poor have become a political power that cannot be ignored: no wonder even Capriles at least claimed he would leave the social programmes intact.
Chavezs critics in the West are entitled to passionately disagree with him. But its time they stopped pretending he is a dictator. Chavez has won fair and square. Despite formidable obstacles, he has proved it is possible to lead a popular, progressive government that breaks with neo-liberal dogma. Perhaps that is why he is so hated after all.
Chavez died a billionaire, FWIW.
Usually a good indicator of third world tyrant (see Suharto, Ferdinand Marcos, Sani Abacha and other assorted despots and scumbags).
Red Ken liked him though.
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OK, so let's call it an authoritarian regime with some democratic characteristics then; there is no doubt that the country and constitution was subordinated to his whim.
His confrontational ruling style kept him in power, and unrest was dealt with brutally (19 killed by snipers in the marches of 2002).
He died a billionaire because he turned the Central Bank into a vehicle for secret off-budget spending.
He seized full control of the legislature after the opposition boycott in 2005.
When the opposition did well in local elections he stripped local government of most of their powers.
The names of 3.6m people, who had signed a petition calling for a referendum, were published - some lost public sector jobs, were denied services or passports.
Agricultural output fell as the state seized control of farms.
Crime soared and hospitals degenerated to a desperate condition (there was so much oil money sloshing about, why didn't he grab the opportunity to rebuild the country's infrastructure?).
Inflation soared despite price controls - the country is at the bottom of every league table I've ever seen for economic competitiveness and competent governance.
In short, there is no doubt that he was popular amongst public sector workers and in the slums because he spent oil money on welfare and kept up a popular anti-US rhetoric (that his successor has lost no time continuing) but history will show that he squandered the proceeds of an unprecedented oil boom and got away with it by convincing the people that he was to thank for all that was good (welfare spending) but was not responsible for anything bad - that was mostly down to the US, of course.
And itt is hardly surprising that Owen Jones is a fan ttosca, given that he describes himself as a 'fourth generation socialist' - his grandparents were active members of the Communist Party and his parents met as members of a Trotskyist group, according to Wiki.
I agree with you ttosca. The man had faults, made mistakes... but some facts are irrefutable: he gave a voice to millions of people for the first time, people who are usually refered to as "zambos" by the minority elite. This racist term was also used towards Chavez routinely in the private media, while being portrayed as a monkey. If he was such a dictator, why didn't he ban these tv channels? I suggest you watch this eye-opening documentary,
adeucalione, you claim he was responsible for the death of 19 people in 2002. If you watch the footage in the documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised you will see this is not true. These deaths were the result of snipers on the side of the opposition...
No-one else ever so slightly appalled that they're apparently planning to embalm the late Mr Chavez and have him on permanent display rather like they did with Lenin? Aside from the yuk factor of using a dead man for a Tussaud-like tourist attraction, Venezuela will not benefit from being stuck in the past.
> No-one else ever so slightly appalled that they're apparently planning to embalm the late Mr Chavez and have him on permanent display rather like they did with Lenin? confused Aside from the yuk factor of using a dead man for a Tussaud-like tourist attraction, Venezuela will not benefit from being stuck in the past.
This is hilarious coming from a conservative - in England, a country which seems to be perpetually stuck in the past.
And what of the dozens of statues all over the capital and major cities, celebrating dead war heroes from previous centuries?
Whatever some people in the West think of Chavez, he had a great deal of support from Venezuelans, as the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets have shown.
He raised the living standards and improved the health and education enormously of a large section of the population:
The most effective social programs in Venezuela have been in the areas of education, healthcare, job training and food subsidies that have aided the reduction in poverty. Medical attention is free and universal throughout Venezuela, with hundreds of new and advanced clinics built by the state during the past decade. Quality education is guaranteed at all levels, free even during university and post-graduate studies.
Thousands of new schools have been built by the Chavez administration along with hundreds of new accessible universities. Job and skills training programs have enabled thousands of Venezuelans not just to enter the work force but also to build their own cooperatives and small businesses, many receiving low-interest loans from the government. Subsidized supermarkets, known as Mercal, PDVAL and the Bicentennial Markets, have ensured access to affordable foods for all.
earwig, I will watch the documentary when I have a free 70mins and in return would recommend The Silence and the Scorpion by Brian Nelson. The author painstakingly works through a clocked account of the failed coup, and from an initial position of being a Chavez supporter.
It is a shame the Venezuelan people never had access to an independent inquiry, and that there was no vehicle for opposition families to tell their stories or seek justice.
You might want to contrast this with our 'leaders' who kill disabled people, shit on the poor, make the poor work for free, attempt to privitize the NHS, reduce social security spending, increase wealth inequality, increase tuition fees, and attack human rights laws, to name but a few of the things this govt. has done for 'the people'.
Millionaires and large corporations will certainly enjoy their tax cuts, though.
I don't think anyone is disputing that he spent vast oil revenues on popular social programmes ttosca, or that it made him popular with certain sectors of society, but I think it's disingenuous to look at these is isolation.
And displaying his embalmed body in a glass casket - like Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il etc - isn't quite the same as a commemorative statue is it?
I notice his successor is now saying that his death was at the hands of his enemies (naturally this will be revealed in 50years once the documents have been declassified).
Oh I can't keep up with your arguments ttosca, why don't we stick to the one topic?
> I don't think anyone is disputing that he spent vast oil revenues on popular social programmes ttosca, or that it made him popular with certain sectors of society, but I think it's disingenuous to look at these is isolation.
You could call them 'certain sectors of society'. Quite large sectors, you might say.
I don't think we should look at them in isolation. I'm trying to provide a 'balance' with some of the positive things he has done since he is demonised by much of the mainstream media.
> And displaying his embalmed body in a glass casket - like Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il etc - isn't quite the same as a commemorative statue is it?
Not really bothered. The Brits became hysterical when they found out they could be eating horsemeat. Meanwhile, horse has been eaten for centuries in countries all over the world. You may be aesthetically repulsed by the idea of an embalmed body in a glass casket (if that's really what's going to happen), but it's from your cultural pov.
> I notice his successor is now saying that his death was at the hands of his enemies (naturally this will be revealed in 50years once the documents have been declassified).
I don't know, I haven't read anything about that. However, it's not so outrageous an idea, considering already declassified documents which shows that the US has a history of assassinating its enemies and attempting to subvert democratic movements.
I don't want to labour the point, but the money that was squandered on superficial social programmes has been at the expense of long term prosperity in Venezuela - as Economides says in 'America's Blind Spot', oil reserves were the national treasury that Chavez looted for his political agenda.
It's ridiculous that, despite having the world's second largest oil reserves, the country is importing 30% of its oil and has a plastics shortage. Maybe this has something to do with woeful underinvestment, a brain drain and the fact that he sacked engineers and managers who stood up to him.
Other countries, with less money but more brains, have surged ahead of Venezuela - Brazil, Columbia, Peru and Chile - and are lifting millions out of poverty through good economic governance in the long term.
But some will, I know, continue to see him as a romantic, revolutionary, Robin Hood figure.
Not sure it is romantic, I do remember at the last election there were many Venezuelans able to speak out on the many many problems with Chavez which the people of Venezuela may get more movement towards changing, but still feel he deserves some credit for what good he has done.
He changed Latin American rhetoric from connecting to their colonizers in history and trade (he raised African and Latin@ communities which make up a large bulk of the population, particularly in poorer areas) to connecting among themselves and with African/small Asian countries. He helped Latin America become a force in its own right. Also, anyone who can stand against Western desire for oil deserves a little bit of recognition - I mean, Britain and the US staged a coup in Iran, deposed a democracy and put in a dictatorship just because they were discussing nationalizing the oil and stopping exports so standing up to them is no small feat.
He did a lot wrong and could have done a lot better even within his own ideology, but I think the Western venom towards him in political and media spheres is far more to do with his stopping the West, particularly the Americans, from taking as they please and less to do with the actual problems on the ground. I don't think our politicos and media care that much about that unless it suits them.
"And what of the dozens of statues all over the capital and major cities, celebrating dead war heroes from previous centuries?"
Not the same thing at all. 'The Brits'.... as you so quaintly refer to us... are quite capable of having a few statues around without them becoming a place of pilgrimage.
> I don't want to labour the point, but the money that was squandered on superficial social programmes has been at the expense of long term prosperity in Venezuela - as Economides says in 'America's Blind Spot', oil reserves were the national treasury that Chavez looted for his political agenda.
I think the millions whom he's helped out of poverty and given an education and healthcare wouldn't call it 'squandering'.
> Not the same thing at all. 'The Brits'.... as you so quaintly refer to us... are quite capable of having a few statues around without them becoming a place of pilgrimage.
It's not the same thing to you, because one is the 'norm' to you, and the other is distasteful to you. Both are monuments to the past.
If you think that having an embalmed person who died in the 21st century on display is evidence of 'being stuck in the past' (as you implied in your previous post), then the same holds true of the numerous war heroes and imperialists all over UKs cities, which refer back hundreds of years.
Of course they wouldn't ttosca but as an unbiased observer it is possible to see that, given vast oil wealth, the same objective could have been achieved in a more sustainable way. But that wouldn't necessarily have allowed him to achieve his political ambitions I guess.
It isn't the same thing at all. In the case of Lenin there are repeated moves to get him finally buried because, by turning his corpse into a shrine, it's effectively created a cult.
I'm not queasy about embalming but it just seems so undignified - twice weekly washing of the visible areas, annual immersive baths, an electric pump inside the body and regular touching up of defects according to the BBC
> Of course they wouldn't ttosca but as an unbiased observer it is possible to see that, given vast oil wealth, the same objective could have been achieved in a more sustainable way. But that wouldn't necessarily have allowed him to achieve his political ambitions I guess.
Haha - sure. By following the neo-liberal model of privitisation and deregulation? Countries which follow this model usually follow the same route: increased poverty, increased wealth inequality, and general immiseration for the majority of the population, often culminating in financial stagnation or crisis.
> The November 2007 poll had the same irritating results as in the preceding few years: Venezuela ranked second behind Uruguay in satisfaction with democracy and third in satisfaction with leaders. It ranked first in the assessment of the current and future economic situation, equality and justice, and education standards. True, it ranked only 11th in favouring a market economy but, even with this flaw, overall it ranked highest in Latin America on matters of democracy, justice and optimism, far above the US favourites Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Chile.
> It isn't the same thing at all. In the case of Lenin there are repeated moves to get him finally buried because, by turning his corpse into a shrine, it's effectively created a cult.
So your concern is that people will be inspired by Chavez? That's the whole point.
Interesting that your source referred to the 2007 poll ttosca. I wonder why they chose that one, since it is conducted every year?
The full New Statesman article also ponders the 'suppression' of the poll findings in the West, yet it is certainly published in the Economist every year.
here is the one from 2009, which finds that Chavez's popularity at home had fallen from 65% to 45%, that 81% felt that private business was indispensable to their economy (a big increase) and that support for a market economy had surged. Indeed, poor Chavez's image was much less favourable than other leaders in the region overall.
"given vast oil wealth, the same objective could have been achieved in a more sustainable way"
Oil is finite, opening the country up to foreign private investment and neo-liberal deregulation isn't a more sustainable way of creating anything other than.......huge black holes in the balance sheet of the state, increasing wealth inequality, and even complete collapse when foreign investors pull out. They then devalue assets and buy them back cheaper south Korea 1997, Argentinian collapse following intervention by IMF 1990's- 2004, Mexico was forced towards neo-liberalism which created huge inequality and wall street have made a killing through IMF interventions there. The imperialist dogs control media, we hear what they want us to hear.
Interesting, but no. I read somewhere recently that Chavez put rhetoric above substance and class war above national interest, and I think that sums him up nicely. The only way his heir will be able to sustain the Chavez economy is if more and more oil money is forthcoming, yet you said it yourself - oil is finite.
"So your concern is that people will be inspired by Chavez? "
No... it's that, like the Soviets, people will be manipulated for decades by those claiming to be the natural successors to Chavez.
Class war should ALWAYS come before national interest and certainly before the corporate/state/war agenda
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