File this away for future reference…

…because kiddies, you’re gonna be laughing at all this about six months from now. David Blair of the arch-conservative UK Telegraph is putting all his wishful thinking out there right now for you to mistake for Serious Political Analysis.

At home, however, Mr Chavez is in trouble. State elections are due in November and Venezuela’s opposition, which now includes former followers of South America’s standard-bearer for socialism, is expected to perform well.

“Expected” by the State Dept. and the blinkered likes of David Blair, perhaps. But to anyone who’s seriously paying attention, this opposition is a joke. The turncoats Blair is lauding here, who are expecting to siphon off the “pro-Chavez, BUT” vote, didn’t do so well in the last referendum; it was won by abstention, not a resounding majority of anti-Chavistas. Given that there have been so many votes in Venezuela since Chavez came to power, that’s kind of understandable. Voter fatigue can so easily set in–especially since voters have to get up early and queue up for hours before they can drop their ballots in the box. Still, one can’t deny that there has been a democratic process–in fact a democratic surfeit.

But Blair hasn’t been paying attention, so of course he can’t be expected to know that.

What has he been paying attention to? Well, seriously silly stuff like this amateur psychoanalysis from one of the turncoats:

General Raul Salazar, once a close friend who served as the president’s first defence minister, said that Mr Chavez suffers “many hells or infernos inside him”.

“Perhaps he feels a real social resentment because of the poverty of his upbringing. That becomes a nightmare for any human being,” added Gen Salazar, who campaigned against Mr Chavez in the referendum.

“Political leaders go through three stages. First they are governors, then they are statesmen and then they think they become God and they decide they don’t need anyone’s advice. I hope to God that he doesn’t get to the third stage, but he’s probably close.”

Funny, but that last paragraph sounds to me like Dubya. He started out as governor of Texas, then he became (illicitly) a “statesman” (or at least a wooden figurehead on the prow of a ship), and now he thinks he’s God. And I’m sure he has his share of “hells or infernos inside him”, too–but he is not, thank heaven, the president of Venezuela, who, contrary to the general’s comic-opera Freudianism, retains his good humor and firmly planted feet even in the face of all the private hells and infernos raging around him, and trying (without success) to win votes away from him.

Then there’s this character, who is less funny, but still plays a role in the farce:

General Raul Baduel, who served as defence minister and rescued Mr Chavez from an American-backed coup in 2002, said: “The person who’s in charge of the destiny of our nation has become focused on one aim: to perpetuate himself in power even when this damages the country. Actually, damaging the country favours his aim, because each day we depend more upon the government.”

I’ve already disclosed who paid the general to say things like that, so I shan’t repeat it here. But there’s no evidence that he’s actually damaging the country, and in fact, he’s delivered what the people expect of him and then some. Far from the “one-man show” hypothesis being touted by Blair and his sources, we who are paying attention get realities like this one from the independent IPS news service, showing how Venezuelans are becoming self-sufficient through co-operative farming–facilitated by the man at the top who is expropriating wasted large estates and turning them over to collectives who will, if things keep up at this rate, eventually make Venezuela self-sufficient in food. As it used to be before the oil industry came to predominate–and with them, foreign interests, who are the real ones that reduced Venezuela to dependency and who thrive on its continuation in a state of ruin.

Funny how the former General completely discounts all that. But I guess it’s understandable when one is newly in the business of marketing oneself as a messiah.

Funnily, in spite of the “damaging” quotes he gets from the coattail-riders turned turncoats, Blair has to admit the obvious when there’s no way of denying it:

Transforming an avowedly consumerist country like Venezuela into a socialist haven is probably impossible.

But Mr Chavez has genuinely succeeded in helping the poor. Of Caracas’s five million people, about half inhabit slums, known as “barrios”.

Before Mr Chavez took office in 1999, Venezuela had always been ruled by the white descendants of Spanish settlers. They monopolised wealth and power, creating one of the world’s most unequal, divided societies.

Mr Chavez sought to redress the balance. He built clinics in the “barrios”, staffed by Cuban doctors, giving the slum-dwellers free health care for the first time. State-owned shops sell cheap food and public banks lend the oil money to the poor.

Mr Chavez, who is a twice-elected leader, not a dictator, has won a genuine popular following. For the first time in Venezuela’s history, the impoverished majority feel they have a leader who is on their side.

Yes, and they still do. Their feelings for him haven’t changed, except to intensify, because they know what a struggle he’s been in. They’ve been in it with him, and many of them have been in it even longer than he has. The reason they vote for him is not because he’s a messiah (he has never claimed or tried to be), but because he’s the guy who is finally doing something–something the people have asked him to do. When he was first elected in late 1998, he ran and won on a platform that included a rewrite of the old Venezuelan constitution. The new one–written by an elected assembly, not himself–won a popular ratification. The people voted not only on who would write it, but on the final document itself. Which is exactly what they asked for.

They also asked for, and got, land reform, public healthcare, public schools, public infrastructure, and an end to the creeping privatization of the state oil firm, PDVSA. They asked for, and got, affordable food, lands to farm, and a greater say in the running of the country.

And they keep on asking, because they know he’s gonna keep on delivering. Which is why they, in turn, will keep on returning him to office–or, if they can’t have him, they will vote for those who haven’t turned against him. And they know who those people are, and no amount of NED money will convince them otherwise.

And neither will any top-loaded ignorance coming out of Britain.

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