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On the death of president Chavez/No hero/No dictator

posté le 04/04/13 par Astrid Essed Mots-clés  réflexion / analyse 


See also

It’s the same North American Empire
But we are glad, that that one is no more
Adios Signor Bush

Quote from Chavez on the election victory of President Obama 2008

’’I have said it already, I am convinced that the way to build a new and better world is not capitalism. Capitalism leads us straight to hell.’’

BRAINY QUOTE/QUOTES HUGO CHAVEZ quotes/quotes/h/ hugochavez177590.html

’’"The Devil is right at home. The Devil, the Devil himself, is right in the house. And the Devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulphur still today. Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the Devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world." - on George W. Bush, who appeared before the UN General Assembly a day earlier in 2006.

ON ’’DEVIL’’ GEORGE W BUSH AND MORE : FAMOUS QUOTES BY HUGO CHAVEZ devil-george-w-bush-and-more- famous-quotes-by-hugo-chavez/ 376954-2.html

"Christopher Columbus was the spearhead of the biggest invasion and genocide ever seen in the history of humanity."


Dear Readers,

It was to be expected,that the death[1] of the colourful Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez [2] caused passionate reactions by friend or enemy.
His Western political adversaries emphasized his ’’dictatorship’’ and oppression
of the freedom of opinion [3], a critic, that is partly shared by human rights organisation
Human Rights Watch [4]
Chavez leftist supporters [publicists/organisations] and politicians like Latin American leaders like Fidel Castro [Cuba], Morales [Bolivia] and Correa [Ecuador, who granted
Julian Assange political asylum], admired his social engagement and anti imperialism [5], which sometimes led to exaggerated admiration
Chavez was also praised by politicians, who had their own reason to be anti Western, like
the Iranian president Ahmadinejad, the Surinam president and ex dictator D Bouterse [6] and
the president of Belarus, Lukashenko [all the three were present at Chavez’ funeral]

The Western hostility, bitterness and cynism was predictable, since Chavez was not only a yearlong critic of the American and Western/Israeli allies political and military conduct, with regard to Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza etc [7], but also a critic of the capitalistic system,
which he regarded as the root of Evil [8]


It’s unavoidable, that a political leader like Chavez, defender of the rights of the poor [9],
challenger of the USA [10] and famous because of his fierce speeches and quotes [11], provoked passionate reactions, pro or contra.

I already mentioned the exaggeration, as well on pro and contra Chavez side
For the Western politicians, especially the American president Obama [12] he was a
tyrant, who bought popularity with his social programs

For his leftist admirors he was a kind of saint [13], often without any critical remarks on his
policy in Venezuela or his bizarre choice of political friends like the Surinam president and ex dictator D Bouterse [14], the president of Belarus, Lukashenko, the Syrian president Assad,
former dictator Kaddafi etc

Now it is cancelled [15], but there was a plan to display Chavez permanently in a glass coffin [16], which is very bizarre
Who is Chavez ?
Snowwhite ? [17]

President Ahmadinejad [Iran] made it even worse by stating, that Chavez ’’will return’’
on the according to Biblical traditions [and Islamic and Jewish] coming End of Times [Last Judgment] together with Jesus and the Mehdi [18]

Some bizarre idolization....................

However, to do right on Chavez, one needs to look ’’with your feet on the ground’’ at the different aspect of his policy, considering the
way he rised to political power, his social policy, his anti imperialism and the choice of his international
political friends.


Chavez, born in 1954 as the son Indian parents, who were class teachers, had a military background.
He entered military service upon his graduation from the Venezuelan Academy of
Military Sciences in 1975.
Thereafter he held a variety of post, command and staff positions.
His military career would last untill 1992 [19]
During his military career he would develop a growing dislike of corruption among the military hierarchy [and later political corruption too] and
torture like methods of the army, especially in the ’’war against terrorism’’ 1976-1977 style in the combat against leftist guerilla groups

His first assigment was as a commander of a communications platoon attached to
a counter-surgery force-the Manuel Cedeno Mountain Infantry Batallion, headquartered
in Barinas and Cumana in 1976, it was tasked with suppressing a guerilla insurgency staged
by the Red Flag Party. [20]
In 1977 Chavez was appointed as a communications officer at the Center of Tactical Operations in San Mateo, it was there that Chavez first received first hand and hands-on
experience in counter surgency tactics [21]
It was then [during that 1977 period], that he developed sympathy for leftist guerilla
groups like the Red Flag Party [22], due to his dislike of military corruption, military torture methods in the struggle against guerilla movements, as he saw in the case of Red Flag [23] and the inequality between the rich and the poor despite the big oil profits.[24]
In 1977, he founded a revolutionnary movement within the armed forces, the Venezuelan
People’s Liberation Army [ELPV],
which was followed by the Bolivarian Revolutionary Army, later redesigned the Revolutionary
Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200] [25]

In 1992 he committed a failed coup [26], trying to overthrow the government of
president Carlos Andres Perez, was convicted and pardoned by Perez’ successor, president Rafael Caldera.[27]


Of course there is never a justification for a military coup, but it needs to be said, that
there was nothing good to tell about the presidency of Perez [28]

I already mentioned army torture practices against leftist guerilla groups, for which he was responsible during his first government period [1974-1979] [29]
But there is more to it :
During his anti neo liberal 1988 election campaign for his second predicency, he described the
IMF as ’’a neutron bomb that killed people, but left buildings standing" and said that World
Bank economists were ’’"genocide workers in the pay of economic totalitarianism’’ [30]
However, when he came to power, he accepted an IMF [International Monetary Fund
proposal known as the Washington consensus [31]
The implementation of those neoliberal reforms, and in particular the liberalisation of petrol prices, which caused an immediate increase in the cost of petrol to consumers and rises in fares on public transport, resulted to mass protests in Caracas [capital of Venezuela].

Pérez crushed the protest with the national guard, causing a large number of deaths—estimates range from 500 to 3000, which made him a mass murderer. [32]
The state of emergency was declared.
The mass protest is now referred to as the Caracazo [33]

He never faced any charges for torrure [34] or the Caracazo mass murder [35], but he
was impeached in 1993 because of charges of corruption [36]
His trial concluded in May 1996, and he was sentenced to 28 months in prison [37]


Back to Chavez.
Chavez has been in power as a president from 1999 till 2013, by winning
the elections again and again, with a short interruption of several days due to a US backed anti Chavez right wing coup in 2002 [38]

After being released from prison in 1994, he founded a socialist political party ’’the Fifth Republican Movement’’ [39]
He joined the Venezuelan elections in 1998 [40], to be chosen as a president
His inauguration took place at 2 february 1999 [41]

In 1999 he subsequently introduced a new constitution, which provided guarantees of social justice, increased the rights of marginalized people, the possibility of referenda and the accountability of politicians. [42] and was reelected in 2000.
Despite his anti imperialist and revolutionary rhetoric, at first his reform policy was moderate, by appointing some conservative, centrist and centre-right figures to government positions as well
On the other hand, from the beginning he started his social welfare program, repairing
roads and hospitals, offer free medical care and vaccinations, and sell food at cheap prices.[43]

However, the moderate policy turned out to be radical after 2002, with a coup against his
government [44] after he had tried to impose partly control over de State Oil Company,
Petrolos de Venezuela [45]
However without any result, because after driven out initially, he regained power within four days thanks to
mass protests of his supporters [46]

He had to fulfill an important task yet, to the regret of the Venezuelan rich and the USA.


’’He will be remembered as a man who lived and died for his people, as a paratrooper, a tank commander, a president. Hasta siempre Comandante. Presente.’’

George Galloway, British leftist politician and activist, at the death of Chavez

Was Chavez a man, ’’who lived and died for his people’’ , as George Galloway states
rather pathetically [47] and did he really deserve such admiration and praise [I ignore Galloway’s military terms] ?
Yes, his achievements with regard to social programs were great, although he didn’t want
to end capitalism in Venezula [48], but that’s another story.
However under his government, human rights violations took place.

But before mentioning that, first the social changes under Chavez.
After the anti Chavez coup d’etat of 2002, the real work could begin.
Out of admiration for the Latin American independence fighter Simon Bolivar [49], Chavez called his social reform program the Bolivarian Revolution [50]
The Bolivarian Revolution contains among else
South American economic and political sovereignty [51], which resulted in the
foundation of the Bolivarian Alliance [52]

In 2005,Chavez called the whole concept of the Bolivarian Revolution
’’Socialism of the 21 Centrury’’ [53] and in 2007, Chavez party
the Fifth Republican Movement, would be fused with other social movements into the
United Socialist Party of Venezuela [54]
But the principles remained the same :
Social justice and anti imperialism


The Bolivarian Revolution, as founded by Chavez, has as main components social
changes, anti imperialism and South American economic and political sovereignity [55]
However, as far as it went, it’s goal was not abolition of the capitalistic system [56]

Venezuela is largerly dependent of its oil productivity [57]
Therefore it’s of great importance, who controls the oil business.
One of the most important meaures, Chavez took was placing the state oil
company under direct State control.
Untill then it had operated autonomously, like any other multinational [58]

This was crucial, because the financing of the social programs was made possible by the
oil revenues [59]
He also promoted land reforms and nationalized several other key industries.
Free medical care, low food prizes, registration for the poor to use the right to vote,
programs for education, housing and clean water, it all happened. [60]

The social programs or ’’Bolivarian Missions’’

Chavez is to be applauded for the social programs he developed to create a society
with more social and economic equality.

His social programs, also called ’’Bolivarian Missions’’ [driven by rank and file organizarions][61], contained reforms in
health care, education and housing.
The Bolivarian programs had several names :

Mission Robinson, Mission Ribas, Mission
Sucre [Education], Mission Energia [Environment], Mission Mercal [Food and Nutrition],
Mission Barrio Adentro [Healthcare], Mission Habitat [Housing], Mission Identification [provision of a national identity card for access to social programs], Mission Guaicaipuro
[land titles and human rights of indigenous people], Mission Zamora [Land reform], Mission Vuelta al Campo [plan to encourage poor and unemployed Venezuelans to return to the countryside], Mission Arbol [Plan to recover Venezuelan forests by planting 100 000
trees in five years] [62]

All those missions were of high benefit to the poor [63]

Poverty has been reduced from 70.8 per cent [1996] to 21 per cent [2010] [64]
In 1995, the number of poor in Venezuela was 55 per cent.
By 2009, this came down to 25 per cent.
When Chavez came to power, the unemployment rate in Venezuela was 15 per cent.
By 2009, it was down to 7.8 per cent. [65]

Now a great deal of the poor population could lead a dignified life [66]

Venezuela today has the fairest income distribution in Latin America


Anti imperialism was an important component of the Bolivarian revolution.
Above all, Chavez was a courageous challenger of the USA [67], being the only Superpower
in the world and the most powerful imperialist country.
His goal was to free as well Venezuela, South America and also the rest of the
world from the USA/Western imperialist influence.
His fight against the USA started with his anti imperialist election manifesto [68]
Of course the conflict was intensified by the nationalization of the Venezuelan State oil company, not exactly the fullfilment of the dream of neo liberal capitalist USA.

And the clashes between Chavez and the West/USA would go on.
On international level he criticized passionately and fiercely the American war against Afghanistan [2001], calling it ’’fighting terrorism with terrorism’’ [69] and as to
be expected, the American attack against Iraq [70]

His speeches against the USA were fierce and passionate, his quotes
against the US president Bush legendaric [71]

When the black US president B Obama won the 2008 elections, he was one of the few political leaders, who didn’t give in to the Obama change euphoria, which had misled
some progressive people and activists also.
He declared, that it was still the same North American Empire [72] , which was shared by some
few people and organisations [73], who saw through the Obama euphoria

Chavez fought US/Western imperialism and it were not just words.
He tried to make South America more independent from US influence by founding
the Bolivarian Alliance [74] and had close ties with leftist South American countries like
Bolivia, Ecuador and also Cuba [75]


It is with a reason, when I called the Bolivarian Revolution ’’Chavez changes’’
Because however genuine the intentions, in fact the changes were decided by
Chavez and his political top.
When independent and autonomous initiatives from the underside of society [the poor] didn’t fit in the Chavez plan, he showed another, less pleasant side, which turned out to be repressive.
Violent police conduct against leftist or right wing demonstrators, brutal repression
of prison uprisings [76] and still worse, misuse of power against indigenous people,
took place.

Land rights of indigenous communities versus economic interests

The misuse of power against indigenous people was rooted in economic interests, which
clashed with their rights, that were not only guaranteed by the
Constitution, but also were one of the ’’Bolivarian Missions’’, called ’’Mission Guaicaipuro’’ [77]

Since November 13, 2003 when President Hugo Chavez announced the increase in carbon exploitation to 36 million metric tons per year in the territories inhabited by different native ethnic groups.
Consequences were, that their land would suffer due to the expansion of meg-mining
in their region, which was a huge violation of their land rights and their right on existence.

One of the forefighters of the indigenous rights, an important activist of the Yukpa
community, Sabino Romero, was assassinated at 3 march 2013, the time he protested agaimst the above mentioned Chavez measure of exploitation of the indigenous lands, leading to
commercialization of oil, gas and minerals for the world market.

The circumstances of his death were unclear

However, there was already a bad political climate, since local bureaucratic Chavist
administrators, frustrating the agreements on fullfilling the rights of the indigenous people,
played a rule and divide policy, by which Sabino Romero and the Yukpa were isolated
from the solidarity of other social movements.

And then everything escalated, with the dramatic event of the killing of Sabino Romero [78]
He was not the only victim
13 Yukpa were murdered, all of them unsolved till today [79]


Politicians and Western media often claimes, that Chavez controlled all power and
ruled de facto as a dictator. [80]
Although his rule certainly was tainted by authorian sides, the ’’dictator’’ accusation not only was highly exaggerated, but definitely wrong.
Under a dictatorship there is mostly a one party system and when other parties are admitted, that’s mostly a farce, like during the presidency of Egypt’s former dictator
Mubarak [81], when he would win elections with ’’85 per cent or more’’ of the votes [82]
That didn’t happen in the Chavez era [83]

In fact, the former American president Jimmy Carter of the Carter Center [84], which monitores
elections over the world declared, that the Venezuelan election process is ’’the best in the world’’ [85]

Another striking example, that there was no dictatorship :

When Chavez lost a constitutional referendum in 2007 [86], he respected the result [87]

A dictator would never act like that.


No, Chavez was not a dictator.
However he did limit freedom of expression by taking far-reaching measures.
In 2007 he closed RTCV [Radio Caracas Television], the radio and TV station of
the right wing anti Chavez opposition [88], which was followed two years later by
the closing of 200 other radiostations [89]
The argument for the prohibition of RCTV was enthousiasm for and complicity with
the anti Chavez coup in 2002.

This is unvalid for two reasons :
As far as known, RCTV was never put on trial for the socalled ’’complicity’’ and another mega radiostation, Venevision van Gustavo Cisneros, which was also an enthousastic
supporter of the anti Chavez coup, stayed in the air after giving support to the
Chavez government for clearly opportunistic reasons [90]

Right wing opposition or not, freedom of expression is a fundamental right and the
prohibition of radio and TV station a very dangerous measure.
Moreover, those measures can used as a legitimacy to suppress all criticism, right wing
or leftist [91].

In suppressing the freedom of expression, the most extreme measure Chavez took was
the expulsion of Human Rights Watch from Venezuela on 18 september 2008 [92]

Direct cause was a critical report Human Rights brought out, which was titled ’’A Decade
under Chavez’’ [93] in which Chavez was accused of a political witch hunt against his
political opponents with all sort of unfounded accusations [mostly supporting the 2002 anti Chavez coup] [94]

He was also accused of intimidation of political opponents and firing them,
especially from civil service and the national oil company and
according to Human Rights Watch, critical civilians should have been excluded from
social programs [95]

The government should have threatened opposition journalists and also trade unions and
other organisations, that didn’’t walk the Chavez way [96]

The answer of the government on the Human Rights report, to expell the human
rights organisation, is not only an utter violation of human rights, but arises the suspicion of closing the eyes for injustice. [97]


When you enter the camp of US enemies, you meet a complicated group with different ideologies and interests.
Then it’s of great importance to choose who’s your political friend and who not.
Of course I don’t mention economical ties, which can be necessary.
However, there is a difference between polite diplomatic ties and friendly, even intimate
With regard to that, the political choices Chavez made, were sometimes good, but often morally reprehensible and disturbing.
For example :
He had a good contact with the Bolivian president Morales [98], a genuine fighter
of social equality and as far as known, a far lesser human rights violator [99] than most political leaders.

On the other hand he also had intimate relationships with notorious villains and dictators
like the former Libyan president Khadaffi, the Syrian president Assad, the president of
Belarus, Lukashenko [100], the Zimbabwean president Mugabe [101] and the Surinam president and ex dictator D Bouterse [102]

Chavez had the guts to call president Assad a ’’humanist and brother’’ [103] and stated,
that the Surinamese people should choose for president and ex dictator D Bouterse [104],
the man, who was responsible for the Decembermurders [105] and the war crimes [106] during
the Suriname Guerilla war between him and the Jungle Commando and his former body Guard R Brunswijk [107]
Because of Chavez good relations with dictator Lukashenko [Belarus] [108]

Because of Chavez eagerness to have a good relationship with China, he betrayed the
Tibetan struggle for freedom by calling their freedom movement an example of the US
Empire going to China [109] and mentioned Tibet as ’’an integral part of China’’ [110]
He ridiculed the protests against the Olympic games in China as added that the protests against the Olympian games in China as a ’’sabotage of US imperialists against China’’ [111]


Clearly Chavez deserves great appreciation for his engagement with the
social rights of the poor and underprivileged and his fight against US/Western imperialism.
Few had the guts to challenge war criminal and torturer president Bush [112] in the political arena the way Chavez did.

However, bad sides of his reign were the repression of the indigenous rights in Venezuela as the freedom of expression, although he was absolutely no political gangster or torturer,
which even his adversaries had to admit [113]

International his bad sides were uttered in his friendly and even intimate relations with political gangsters and dictators
as Kaddafi, Mugabe, Assad, Lushenko and ex dictator D Bouterse and
not to forget his defense of the Chinese repression in Tibet.

Because of his repression in Venezuela and his relations with dictators I can’t give him
the unconditional appreciation many leftist organisations or individuals gave him.

But what will be kept alive in the hearts of the Venezuelan people is the
hope on a humane and dignified existence, which Chavez and his movement
have set in motion.

The best way to express the feelings of the Venezuelan oppressed are the words of Malcolm X [114]

’’‘We declare our right on this earth….to be a human being, to be respected as a
human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this
earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence with any means necessary’’


Kind greetings

Astrid Essed
The Netherlands


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