Revolutionary opportunism, or Better Living Through Ignorance!

A Tunisian mural depicts Latin American revolutionary hero Che Guevara, who is widely admired in the Arab/Muslim world. This is what some people would like you NOT to see, much less connect with current events.

Ever since the shit hit the fan in Tunisia and Egypt, there have been idiots on the Internet trying to use the Arab revolutions to tell Cuba (and Venezuela) that “this is how it’s done”. Look, they say, pointing to the falling dictators of northern Africa–you can do that with yours, too! Go on, what are you waiting for? Embrace freedom! You have nothing to lose but your…

Oh, stop.

The problem with all this faux-Marxian throw-off-your-chains rhetoric, especially if it comes from the US, should be obvious. It just plain stinks coming from anyone stuck in the hypocritical duopoly of US politics, where presidents of both parties have hardly been what anyone would call friends of democracy in the Arab/Muslim world. For decades, virtually all Arab dictators* (including monarchs) have been propped up by USAID financing, CIA training and the like. Their tanks, their fighter jets, their guns, even their bullets, were all sold, sealed and delivered with love and kisses from Washington.

In other words, the chains being thrown off in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and elsewhere are Made in the USA.

Meanwhile, the “dictators” of Venezuela and Cuba are strictly home-grown. They arrived in office by way of popular revolts against a tame dictator (in Cuba) and a slew of tame, weak, phony “democrats” (in Venezuela). One waged a successful guerrilla war, the other a failed military uprising. They ARE revolutionaries already.

And, in the case of Hugo Chávez, the “dictator” is not even a dictator, but democratically and popularly elected (and re-elected, with the constitution amended by popular demand to allow him to stay on as long as the people of Venezuela want him). Six out of ten Venezuelans voted for him, and an even greater number currently approve of his reign. You’d think, with such a broad popular mandate, he’d be an acknowledged democratic hero. And he is–but not in the United States of Amnesia.

As for the Brothers Castro, Fidel is now retired, Raúl probably will do so eventually himself, and believe it or not, Cuba does have elections–and even non-communist political parties! So it’s not exactly the closed one-party state of Castro-communism you may have been led to believe it was. The Brothers Castro enjoy genuine and widespread respect among their own people; the first large estate they nationalized under land reforms was their own. If they had wanted to rule the island with an iron fist, they could have done so easily enough as old-school oligarchs. If the people of Cuba wanted them gone, they could have toppled them at any time, and in the same way as the Castros did it with Batista. In fact, they could have done so with surprising ease during the Special Period, when Cuba lost its main trading partner, the Soviet Union, and handfuls of balseros started fleeing for Miami (and often, drowning like Elián González’s mother) on makeshift rafts. The counterrevolution could have happened long ago in Cuba, but it didn’t. Why? It’s not as if they lacked the revolutionary guerrilla experience! Why, oh why, did the Cuban people remain overwhelmingly loyal even in the darkest times, instead of turning against their long-established leaders?

Things like this, I’m sure, have the wonks in Washington endlessly scratching their hoary heads.

While the Arab countries have only just now begun to demonstrate that they are tired of tame dictators (or what Washington calls “great friends of liberty” and crap like that), the Latin Americans have done the same for decades in many countries already. And continue to do so by NOT falling for the “embrace your USAID-financed freedom!” hype. Venezuelans are hyper-vigilant against the CIA black propaganda that led to the success of OTPOR in Serbia, and they’re not fooled by OTPOR wannabes like the violent, fascist “youth” group JAVU. Meanwhile, Cubans just roll their eyes at the narrow, self-centred demonstrations of mercenaries such as the Ladies in White, and the easily debunked blogorrhea of “award-winningYoani Sánchez, who has the kind of internet service that probably even the Brothers Castro can only dream of.

Why aren’t they fooled? Well, when you’ve been dealing with this kind of thing since the Bay of Pigs invasion, if not much earlier, you already know what rank bullshit (Made in USA!) smells like.

You also know that a real grassroots Cuban blogger doesn’t have her own dedicated server, let alone get her work translated into dozens of foreign languages by hand, not Babelfish.

And you just know that if it were really so oppressive in Venezuela and Cuba, if there really were the kinds of censorship the Miami-based opponents of the “rrrrrégimenes” claim there is, you wouldn’t even be able to read about it on the tweeter. If Hosni Mubarak could succeed in shutting down the Internet in Egypt for even 24 hours, do you think his supposed Latin American counterparts would hesitate to do the same?

And yet, they haven’t. And life goes on as usual in both countries. No mass uprisings. No major demonstrations. Except in support of their leaders, which is something you won’t see the anglo whore media publicizing anytime soon.

Oh yeah, and before I forget to mention this: It was Twitter that recently censored Cuba, not the other way around. So much for the notion that corporate capitalism supports freedom of expression, eh?

Oh, and then there’s the salient and interesting fact that Chavecito is on the tweeter himself, and has urged his supporters to sign on, too. Venezuela is now one of the most Twitter-pated countries in Latin America, with Chavista tweeters well represented. In fact, ALL the internets are vibrant and buzzing in Venezuela, regardless of political affiliations.

And have I mentioned yet that Chavecito is also very popular in the Arab world, precisely because he is a democrat who stands up to Washington? I seem to recall having done so before. But just in case I haven’t, here’s a link. It’s still as fresh and relevant today as it was five years ago.

You can see that Venezuela and Cuba have nothing to “embrace” that Washington and Miami have to offer. Radio Martí may still be wasting the US taxpayers’ dollars (which could have gone toward a nice, Cuban-style universal public healthcare system, say), but no one’s listening. Radio Rebelde (Che’s original channel!) is the truly popular station on the dial. And Radio Bemba–good old-fashioned Latin American word of mouth–saved the day when Chavecito was briefly ousted by a bunch of fascist putschists who had ample military backing from Washington. Even when the putschists shut down all the public, alternative and community media (including pirate radio stations), the word still got out that the elected Chavecito–friend of Fidel and Cuba–was missing and in danger of being killed. Word of mouth literally saved him–millions of ordinary Venezuelans mobilized, much as millions of ordinary people in North Africa are doing now.

So, all you idiots out there in Internet-land, stop making stupid noises about how Venezuela is “the next domino”, or that Cuba should take a lesson from the Arabs. The truth is, the Arabs have been taking lessons and inspiration from both those countries for years, and it’s clear that they have learned those lessons well. That’s why Washington is in such a panic right now, unable to truly embrace the Arab revolutions itself.

Meanwhile, Chavecito and Fidel are doing just that. And they’re doing it in the face of sustained attacks on their respective revolutions. Those revolutions succeeded for a reason, and it wasn’t US backing. It was and still is the popular backing of their own people.

If I were one of those noisy numbskulls, I’d be feeling pretty foolish right now.

*The obvious exception is Libya. Libya has oil, and has long been targeted by the US, unsuccessfully, for takeover. Don’t anyone believe they would install a “better” dictator than you-know-who, though…they don’t really care how brutal he is, as long as he’s tame.

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9 Responses to Revolutionary opportunism, or Better Living Through Ignorance!

  1. Nolan says:

    Great post! If anything what’s going on in the middle east has more in common right now with the unrest before the Cuban Revolution and the Caracazo, eventually leading to “dictators” taking over in Cuba and Venezuela. In both cases cross-class civil unrest against corrupt American corrupted tyrants only continued to grow until there was genuine change – revolution and an expansion of democracy in Cuba and Venezuela respectively.

    Unfortunately expect this sort of talk to continue. I expect the Latin American right to try and coopt these protests.

    • Sabina Becker says:

      Yep…they’re probably also gonna try to make out like this is another of those much-vaunted (but ultimately fizzled) “color revolutions” that the CIA loves so much. Funny how no one is talking about those anymore, especially since What’s-his-name-vili in Georgia started munching on his tie. I get no end of shits and giggles thinking about how the same people who support an obviously unstable character like him then go on to prattle about the need for “stability” in Egypt.

  2. Nolan says:

    Update, rumors are spreading that Chavez is granting Quadaffi asylum. Funny how none of my facebook friends calling Chavez supporters “douchebags” are willing to apologize for spreading lies.

  3. Paul Escobar says:

    Hey guys,

    If you want the latest on Venezuela-Libya, follow Dima_Khatib on Twitter.

    She’s Al-Jeezy’s Venezuela reporter…fluent in Arabic/Spanish/English.
    She was the first to talk to Ven-Gov & break the news that Kadafi wasn’t heading to Venezuela.
    And as an aside, she’s done a great job tearing down people who would dare compare Mid-East tyrannies to anything in Lat Am.

    Hasta la victoria siempre!

  4. Paul Escobar says:

    Some stuff on Libya.

    1) Libya is not a typical state.

    It’s a marriage of tribes. And now they’ve descended into a medieval tribal war.

    2) There are no good sides there.

    Not Kadhafi & his tribe, or the tribes opposing him. They’re all a bunch of macho thugs, whipping out their dicks for a measurement competition.

    3) What replaces Kadhafi is less liberal – that’s a fact.

    The man imposed his personal secularism by force. He rewrote the rules of the Qur’an, killed religious leaders, & elevated women to ridiculous positions. This is why everyone from Sunni Al-Queda to Shia Hezbollah want him dead.

    4) What replaces him is none of our business.

    There is not some magical communist or capitalist party waiting to take over. When the staunch Islamic dudes replace him, don’t call for intervention because your Twitter dreams were shattered.

    Men still won’t be allowed to marry each other. Women won’t be able to play army any longer. That doesn’t mean we enlightened beings have some god-given right to invade & slay these people.

    5) As far as Lat Am goes: Castro, Chavez & Ortega respect Gadhafi for the warrior he WAS.

    The guy took on the U.S., Israel, & Saudi Arabia…and he lived to tell the tale.
    Whatever he did, whatever happens, no one can take that away from him.

    Yes, the revolution suffers from mild machismo & a questionable warrior ethos. But I’ll take “macho” over “effete” anyday.

    6) Europeans & Americans (hell, even South Africans) provided the financing, bullets & guns that Kadhafi is using.

    Latin America didn’t – which is why we can sleep at night.

  5. Cort Greene says:

    It was the Iranian governments PressTV that rushed the gun and reported that he was headed to Venezuela. British intel was listening to it and thats how they got the story and passed it on to their FM.

    Many Left wing groups in Venezuela have spoken out against the massacres and hopefully some in the government or the diplomatic corps will also,I have urge those I know too.

    Adel El Zabay, deputy Bolivarian MP for the state of Bolivar and is of Arab origin explained recently that Gaddafi is no longer the myth that he was yesterday, when he offered resistance to imperialism, but had been giving in, making privatization and giving concessions to transnationals, mainly European.

    And said one of the first regressive symptoms Gaddafi’s government was about 15 years ago, with the expulsion of 30 thousand Palestinians from Libyan territory.

    Now, Zabay recognizes that there is a real groundswell against Gaddafi in Libya and his dealing with massacres that can not be justified.

    “European imperialism is seeking a solution to this situation, which is favorable for the maintenance of their investments”.

    “But the revolution that is shaking the Arab countries are doing everything to be different from now and imperialism is not going to be easy to manage these processes”.


  6. Paul Escobar says:

    Actually Cort,

    I think Dima said a Libyan diplomat in China started the rumour. Then it got amplified by Hague.

    Again, if I’m remembering her posts correctly, when questioned after the rumour was debunked, said diplomat could say nothing…as if he was embarrassed.

    Anyways, Venezuela has nothing to do with this. Their current policy is the exact same as the world (at this moment)…non-interference. Though the world thinks they can make their guns, bullets, & financing go away by scolding Gadhafi.

  7. Sabina Becker says:

    Paul, Cort, thanks for your respective info and insights…I have to admit this all had me worried at first. Should have known it was a British idiot that started the whole food fight. Hague is going on my weekly wankapedia tomorrow, no doubt about that. He deserves a major bitch-slap, considering he nearly sparked an international conflict. All the karma he needs to bite him in the ass now is Chavecito going on TV to make clear that at no time was Gaddafi offered asylum in Venezuela, and that Venezuela does not and never has supported oppression elsewhere. Let’s hope that comes soon!

    I wonder if I should make this post sticky for a while so everyone who comes here can read all this and realize that this is most definitely NOT a case of “tyrant supporting tyrant”. It’s been clear to me that Chavecito is on the side of revolutionaries, with the usual socialist caution that they not become oligarchies through attrition.

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