What Hugo Chavez did

It’s started already and he’s hardly in his coffin. “Populist”, “controversial”, “eccentric” – those are just some of the names the media have used of him so far. You’d think that a man who had turned the political tide in South America, let alone in his own country, would get a better epitaph than that. 
Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela in 1999 and soon made it clear that things were going to change in his oil-rich country. He started with the price that was paid for Venezuelan oil, so that between 1998 and 2008, it increased by 660%. The money thus derived was used to eliminate three-quarters of the extreme poverty in his country and to provide free health and education for everyone. 
But of course his big sin in Western eyes was that he stood up to the US.  Fifty-four countries around the world allow the US to detain and torture people they, the Yanks, dislike. Chavez refused to be one of them. The US followed its usual procedure and supported a coup to overthrow him, despite the fact that the Venezuelan people had chosen him at the ballot box. 
But Chavez’s influence went beyond the borders of his own country.  In 2005, it was reckoned by the BBC that three out of every four people in South America now had elected a left-leaning president. This “pink tide” had one common denominator: a determination to break what used to be called the “Washington consensus”  which pushed for open markets and privatisation, and was led of course by the US.
Like all politicians, Chavez had his faults. He alienated the middle classes in his own country as well as the powers-that-be in the US.But whatever his sins, the example he set to the rest of South America that they didn’t have to be a lucrative back-yard for the US and that they could play their own tune rather than dance to the one provided by the US, the real difference in health and education he made for his own people – all these far outweigh what wrong he may have done. He was a heroic figure and his death at 59 is a loss not just to Venezuela but the world. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.  

16 Responses to What Hugo Chavez did

  1. Dard Shayari March 6, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Chavez will surely be missed. Dedicated champion of progress for his people, his region and bright example for all world leaders. He proved u don’t have to kiss Uncle Sam’s A77 or flush his toilet in return for protection/ friendship/ self esteem & economic progress. Venezuela lost a great leader!!

  2. Anonymous March 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Hugo stated that he believed the US was behind his cancer problem, and that other South American leaders have been targeted. Ofcourse the likes of Stevie Nolan and Mitchel would laugh and pour scourne, so don’t bother lifting the phone but when was the last time you got a painful xray?.They are zapping people in Africa and afghanistan, from a wee hut in dusty Nevada, maybe there is some gremlin clicking a switch in the hallway of the UN building he’s okay, nope he’l have to go,large dose required, just call me cynicle.

    • Anonymous March 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      Wouldn’t be the first time such allegations have been tossed around in these parts, a few prominent loyalists allegedly prominent in collusion with British Government died relatively young…

      …but of course we’re all socialized to sneer at such tinfoil hat wearing eejits, sure it’s not as if any intelligence agencies have/would ever get up to any badness of any kind is it…

  3. Anonymous March 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Great Article Jude. The Revolution will continue. Some interesting articles on Press TV website re CIA, Perkins & death of various leaders by cancer etc. If the mainstream media were not denigrating Hugo & his inspiring legacy I would be concerned. D

  4. cathy mcallister March 6, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Finger on the pulse as always Jude! He really did try to capture the spirit of Bolivar and Marti but as always unless you let US rape and pillage you are a criminally insane dictator! When Castro visited Nixon after the revolution in Cuba Nixon ordered him overthrown before the sweat had dried on his dodgy handshake! That’s why the Soviets swooped in-Fidel was willing to work with the yanks but they smelled lefty and gagged.The yanks just loved democracy on September 11th 1973 when they put in Pinochet over elected Allende. So glad when Hugo managed to stop them doing same to him-they failed because the majority wanted him. I urge anyone who has not yet done so to watch ‘The Revolution will Not be Televised, for an honest, non imperialist perspective. I’m pretty sure the documentary maker was Irish too!

  5. Anonymous March 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    By all accounts,he had some pretty disreputable friends around the world.Assad,Mugabe,
    Gadaffi and Lukashenko come to mind.

    • cathy mcallister March 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • cathy mcallister March 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

      Well Gadaffi and Saddam were both pals of many a western democracy too unless I imagined Blair shaking hands with him. A certain Osama bin laden was trained by the USA to fight the Russians when it suited. The wonderfully perfect democracies only criticise ‘regimes’ which don’t work in their financial interests. They are too quick to point the finger without looking at their own dodgy bedfellows. Hence Roosevelt’s assertion, ‘Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch’ Not one single care was given to what this monster did to the Nicaraguans,pocketing for himself the relief and aid money for the 1972 earthquake. Yet when the Sandinistas came in -all of a sudden the US were just so concerned with the well Being of the Nicaraguan people. This new found concern couldn’t have anything to do with the fact they were leftist could it!? The list of foreign statesmen targeted for assassination by the yanks is unbelievable: Nasser, Castro, Patrice Lumumba and even De Gaulle! Can you imagine if Castro or Chavez tried to do this?

    • giordanobruno March 9, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      It is clear you would prefer to talk about the evils of the west rather than discuss Chavez.
      It is possible to see the good things he did and also not be blind to his faults.

    • cathy mcallister March 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      I Wouldn’t say I was blind to his faults-no doubt he wasn’t perfect and I admire many people for things they have done while remaining aware that there are always issues that I wouldn’t agree with. No one, least of all politicians can be perfect-well not in office anyway!I think you miss the point I was making which was Chavez was, in my view over criticised by people for being undemocratic and for doing things that many western democracies are equally guilty of. I wasn’t saying he was a saint ,merely that the hypocrisy and double standards of what qualifies as a dictator or a democrat as defined by most western democracies is laughable and all too often judged in their own interests. The examples from other Latin american countries were intended to show that it is an age old problem so I wasn’t straying off topic just trying to show illustrative examples to support my point about Chavez. Never meant to offend you or anyone or to talk about evils of the west in an irrelevant manner.

    • giordanobruno March 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

      Thanks for the reply. I am not offended. I do not try to defend the crimes or hypocrisy of the western governments.
      I suppose it is just that they are often used to deflect any debate away from the issue at hand.
      Better in my opinion to stay focused on the topic,or it quickly degenerates into whataboutery.

  6. Jude Collins March 9, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I can vouch for that last sentence, Cathy. And btw – how refreshing to have someone come on and attach their name to their deeply-held opinions. Not a path trodden by most of my comment-making people, you’ll notice.

    • giordanobruno March 11, 2013 at 12:38 am #

      I know your feelings about us anonymous posters and I see your point.
      In defence of anonymity I would say;
      It encourages people to enter debate,who might otherwise lack confidence to do so
      It allows people in sensitive positions to express their opinions,or even do a bit of whistleblowing,
      It is arguably a purer form of discussion since we can address the argument put without regard for who is making it.
      The main problem with it is when people hide behind anonymity to hurl abuse.
      I try not to do that, despite your often provocative views(insert smiley face thingy here).

  7. cathy mcallister March 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    You know me Jude! If you really believe in your opinion then why hide your identity? There will always be people who do not agree but at least it gets an open discussion started!

  8. Anonymous April 16, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Jude I recommend to move to Venezuela for six months and then let’s see if your opinion about what Chavez started and about the revolution changes….

  9. Jude Collins April 17, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Anon 00:58 – I assume you’ve don that yourself, then?