Festive Left Friday Blogging: A little vintage Chavecito

Hugo Chavez’s maiden speech to the Venezuelan congress.

This was in 1999, upon his taking power. Present are several other Latin American leaders: Chavez’s friend Fidel Castro, alongside an uncomfortable looking clutch of neoliberal dinosaurs: Pastrana of Colombia, Fujimori of Peru, Menem of Argentina, etc. They probably look so uncomfortable because they can hear their own coffins being nailed. Or maybe because they have to share space with Fidel and this infidel. Either way, it’s priceless.

Pay special attention to where the applause falls. Invariably, it comes after the most impassioned and radical parts of his speech, the ones where he swears not to compromise with old reactionaries because “that would be a betrayal”. The ones where he lays out loud and clear what he plans to do (and has done since, and is still doing.) The ones where he says it is necessary to fight for justice. And above all, where he swears to create a constitutional assembly to rewrite the constitution, “because the people clamored for it.” He also promises to put the new constitution to a popular referendum. (He gets a standing ovation for those last two.)

And if you need any further proof that his popularity hasn’t wavered but grown since, check out the last half minute of the video. A huge sea of red shirts, further than the eye can see, swamping the streets of Caracas. This is his support base. Remember that when you see lamestream media reports of “huge demonstrations” against his current block of constitutional reforms–because I guarandamntee you that anything the opposition throws up will be nothing compared to the popular support he will get a month from today, when the reforms go, as virtually everything else in Chavecito’s Venezuela, to a general vote.

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