Hugo Chavez






Hugo Chavez dies at the age of 58. Hundreds of thousands  of Venezuelans  weeping and crying followed his coffin from Military hospital to Military academy where his body is lying in state.  All the progressive forces in the world irrespective of their background mourn the death of Comandante Chavez. These forces include Social democrats, Communists , Trotskites and Ultra left. This article by a fellow revolutionary is a tribute to Comandante Hugo Chavez.

Comandante Chavez was a paratrooper in the Venezuelan armed forces when he led a military coup against the Government of Carlos Perez in 1992. He was imprisoned and released after two years. His speech to the public  during the surrender clearly showed that he wanted major changes to the way in which Venezuelan people were governed  . His speech which ended up with the words  "time being" indicated that he had a political program to bring about wealth re-distribution to Venezuela. . In 1999 he was elected President in a popular vote and won every elections since then .

During his presidency he carried out major transformation of the society. All the key industries were nationalized.  Venezuela is the fourth largest oil producing country. However unlike the other oil producing countries (with the exception of Iran) where the wealth was squandered by the ruling class, Venezuela has used the oil wealth to lift the living standards of poor. In addition it did not  over produce the oil to suit the whims of U.S. U.S buys oil from oil producing countries and stores much of it as "strategic oil". Basically transferring oil from producing countries to itself.

Share of poor people in Venezuela dramatically went down from 61% in 1997 to 33% in 2011, while the share of extremely poor went down from 30% to 9%. Although China and Brazil have reduced poverty substantially in the past two decades, in both cases , inequality has grown. In Venezuela, the Gini Coefficient  which is a measure of inequality,  fell from 0.487 to 0.39 in this period. 

Education has been made free from pre-primary to university. As a result, one in three Venezuelans is currently enrolled in higher education, the fifth highest ratio in the world.  There is no illiteracy in Venezuela according to UNESCO.   

Over 21% of the population was suffering from malnutrition in 1998. This has dropped to just 5% currently, on the back of massive food programs for children as also adults. Easy credit to farmers and a boost to food production  has reduced food imports from 90% of total requirement in 1980 to 30% in 2011.

Infant mortality has dropped from 25 per 1000 in 1990 to only 13 in 2010. The number of doctors per 10,000 inhabitants has risen from 18 in 1998 to 58. Venezuela has benefited from Cuban medical and healthcare expertise through a program designed to give oil to Cuba in exchange for 44,000 Cuban doctors working among the poor in Caracas and other cities. An estimated 96% of the population now has access to clean drinking water.

Externally Venezuela has been the champion of the third world against U.S and Western domination.  It fought off Bush's free trade agreement for Latin America. This agreement would have enslaved Latin America for decades to U.S. It's stand against U.S and so-called neo-liberalism  soon led to more countries in Latin America following suit. Today majority of Latin American countries have progressive governments which care for the poor. Venezuela led the changes which we now see in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador , Bolivia and Uruguay.

In addition Venezuela helped poor Latin American and Caribbean countries with subsidized oil. This includes Cuba . Cuba was able to withstand U.S and Western sanctions because of the subsidized oil from Venezuela. Many of these countries would have been crippled economically  when the oil price rose from $10 to $100 per barrel.

Because of his economic efforts Chavez is extremely popular in Latin America , Caribbean and Third world poor. He was hated by the wealthy , U.S and Western countries. In 2002 U.S engineered military coup against Chavez which failed miserably. There has been so many clandestine efforts by U.S to overthrow him.  Ultimately it was cancer which killed Chavez. One day it will be known whether his death was externally engineered like the cancer which killed Yassir Arafat.

What is his ideology?. He is not a communist or Marxist. He is a nationalist like Juan Peron or Gamal Nasser. But at the same time he cared for the poor. He is also a democrat. His constitution is a unique one with a recall clause for the President. Chavez is also a staunch anti imperialist and advocate of Latin American Unity. This trait is what endeared him to Fidel . Fidel considered Chavez as his own son. One can feel Fidel's pain at Chavez's death. Cuban doctors struggled so hard to save him.

Chavez will be always remembered by the poor in Latin America , Caribbean and the world. He is a great son of Latin America like Che Guevara.
 He followed the great internationalist Che in fighting for the down trodden in the world.

"Whenever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms".

Che

 

"Hasta siempre, comandante" "Farewell forever, commander."

Links.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/06/hugo-chavez-and-me-tariq-ali


07th of March 2013


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