Friday, February 17, 2006


Even for my Socialist friends (and even more for my Strong Democrat friends...), the content of this post might be a little controversial... I'm fully aware of that, but I decided to take the risk...

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said that Venezuela's President, Hugo Chávez, is one of the biggest dangers facing Latin America, accused him of trying to influence others away from democracy, and called for a united front against him. Describing Venezuela's close relationship with Cuba as "particularly dangerous", Ms Rice said that "the international community has just got to be much more active in supporting and defending the Venezuelan people".

But, who is Hugo Chávez?

Venezuelans themselves are split between those who say he has become increasingly autocratic, and those who say he speaks for the poor. Recent events have led to increasing tensions. Among them, a controversial programme of land reform launched by Mr Chávez that allows the state to seize underused ranches without compensation. Critics have argued that his plans violate property rights enshrined in the constitution, and have accused him of trying to emulate Cuba's communist system. The opposition has indeed been trying to unseat the president by constitutional means since 2002, and it managed to secure a referendum on his leadership two years ago. But the vote only served to strengthen Mr Chávez. He won by a large majority and insisted that he would run for another six-year term in this year elections. To the poor of Venezuela, who make up the vast majority of the population, President Chávez is a hero: since he first won election in 1998, has spent countless millions of dollars on developing social welfare programmes to bring clinics and schools to where before there were none. But to his political opponents, and to the Bush administration in Washington, he is a dangerous demagogue, who allies himself with such American hate-regimes as those of Cuba and Iran. Of course, he says, he would love to be on better terms with the US - and he pays glowing tribute to the people of that country - but with George Bush in the White House, there's no chance of that.

He's keen to explain the principles underlying his "Bolivarian revolution", named after the great Latin American hero of the 19th century, Simon Bolivar. And he insists that no-one - no, not even George Bush - has any reason to fear him. "I am a socialist", he says, "and I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who was the first socialist, just as Judas was the first capitalist." President Chávez often quotes the 19th century French writer Victor Hugo and his hugely influential novel about poverty and oppression Les Miserables (now a musical of the same name). "So if I were a wealthy Venezuelan capitalist, should I fear Hugo Chávez?", a BBC journalist has asked him last October. "Of course not", he replied. "No one has anything to fear. I fight against poverty and injustice. The rich can look after themselves."

Mr Chávez accuses the Bush administration of trying to orchestrate his removal, a charge denied by Washington but difficult to avoid, especially after the latest statements of Ms Rice. No matter how much Mr Bush like it or not, Mr Chávez was democratically elected and is the legitimate leader of his people, who live in democracy since 1958. Venezuela's vast oil reserves - the largest in the Americas - have a huge strategic importance, but the US state department doesn't have the right to decide what is right and wrong for Venezuelans.

Supporting and defending the Venezuelan people, as Ms Rice asked for, implies, from my point of view, to state loud and clear that we don't admit any kind of interference from the US in Latin America. Never again!


Blogger Pedro said...

Of course the US do not have the right to interfere.

And by the way you present the things, I would be tempted to agree that he's not so bad.

But actually I still believe there's more to it and that he is a demagogic "populist".

Putting it on another way, let's say I picture him placed in the chart close to Darth Vader, and that was a bad dude, no?

5:12 AM  
Blogger Diogo said...

If there's more to it, I would challenge to come up with it... you Democrat!

4:12 PM  

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