On the passing of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, much of the Western corporate press has echoed the distortions that has been the irrational yet predictable pattern of hatred towards a man and leader that dared to challenge the Western economic consensus.
Here’s Tariq Ali in the Guardian with a thorough examination of the Chavez legacy:
The BolÃvarians, as ChÃ¡vez’s supporters were known, offered a political programme that challenged the Washington consensus: neo-liberalism at home and wars abroad. This was the prime reason for the vilification of ChÃ¡vez that is sure to continue long after his death.
Politicians like him had become unacceptable. What he loathed most was the contemptuous indifference of mainstream politicians in South America towards their own people. The Venezuelan elite is notoriously racist. They regarded the elected president of their country as uncouth and uncivilised, a zambo of mixed African and indigenous blood who could not be trusted. His supporters were portrayed on private TV networks as monkeys. Colin Powell had to publicly reprimand the US embassy in Caracas for hosting a party where ChÃ¡vez was portrayed as a gorilla.
Was he surprised? “No,” he told me with a grim look on his face. “I live here. I know them well. One reason so many of us join the army is because all other avenues are sealed.” No longer. He had few illusions. He knew that local enemies did not seethe and plot in a vacuum. Behind them was the world’s most powerful state. For a few moments he thought Obama might be different. The military coup in Honduras disabused him of all such notions.
The following year in Caracas I questioned him further on the BolÃvarian project. What could be accomplished? He was very clear; much more so than some of his over-enthusiastic supporters: ”I don’t believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist revolution. I don’t accept that we are living in a period of proletarian revolutions. All that must be revised. Reality is telling us that every day. Are we aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition of private property or a classless society? I don’t think so. But if I’m told that because of that reality you can’t do anything to help the poor, the people who have made this country rich through their labour – and never forget that some of it was slave labour – then I say: ‘We part company.’ I will never accept that there can be no redistribution of wealth in society. Our upper classes don’t even like paying taxes. That’s one reason they hate me. We said: ‘You must pay your taxes.’ I believe it’s better to die in battle, rather than hold aloft a very revolutionary and very pure banner, and do nothing ”¦ That position often strikes me as very convenient, a good excuse ”¦ Try and make your revolution, go into combat, advance a little, even if it’s only a millimetre, in the right direction, instead of dreaming about utopias.”