“Chávez is the people.” The writing is on the wall. And the Middle East is reading.
As the wave of popular uprisings has spread across the Arab world, a flurry of articles have appeared suggesting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez could be the next “dictator” to be overthrown.
Such arguments follow a pattern in the corporate media of slandering the Chavez government and the revolutionary process it leads.
They aim to conceal the real threat that haunts imperialism: that the Arab world may follow the example of Venezuela and other countries in Latin America — and break away from Western hegemony.
Bingo, ptingo. That’s exactly what those Arab countries are doing–even Libya, which is being wrongly bracketed with Venezuela as having a tyrant ripe for overthrow. Maybe Gaddafi is one, but Chávez? Not even hardly:
All up, pro-Chavez forces have won more than a dozen national elections, all verified as free and fair, since 1998.
With new elections set for 2012, Chavez maintains more than 50% support — even in polls commissioned by the US-funded opposition.
And by the way, those elections have all been verified as such by Jimmy Carter himself–hardly a commie or even a pinko, no matter what his detractors may say.
Why is it important that Chávez was elected? Detractors will no doubt sniffle the usual tired snot about Hitler being elected, too. But Hitler was only elected to one seat in the Reichstag; the chancellery of all Germany was the result of backroom wrangling and arm-twisting of a most antidemocratic nature. And the “freedom-loving” United States never uttered a peep about that!
And no wonder: Hitler did not represent a serious threat to capitalism. In fact, he was a happy collaborator in it after his own fashion, abolishing workers’ unions and all other manifestations of popular power in Germany. Guess who is the exact opposite of all that?
The reality is that as US hegemony is being challenged by the popular uprisings in the Arab world, right-wing commentators and policy-makers are scrambling to spin the situation to their own advantage.
They are singling out governments outside of US control as possible targets for enforced “regime change” from outside.
Responding to the idea that Venezuela could be next, Chavez noted on February 18 that what was occurring in Egypt “started here a while ago. We have been in rebellion for a while now, in a revolutionary rebellion.”
Chavez said that rebellion began in Venezuela with the February 1989 popular uprising known as the Caracazo.
As a result of International Monetary Fund-imposed hikes in fuel prices, tens of thousands of Venezuelans poured onto the streets of Caracas and other major cities to protest against the neoliberal measure.
A brutal crackdown left thousands dead, according to some estimates, and temporarily quelled the rebellion.
However, the fervour continued in Venezuelan society, leading to Chavez’s election in 1998 on an anti-neoliberal platform.
Chavez said: “What happened in Egypt — and which has not finished — is a sudden awakening of people’s power. We have only seen the first waves.
“They are events that mark a new phase of history in the entire world.”
And that’s just what the right and the so-called left in the US both fear. Egypt is learning from Venezuela’s example. So are the other rebel nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. Their sovereignty has Washington quaking in its well-polished shoes. Why, for all we know, those people might end up electing their own Chávez, or several! And then what?
No chance of the US covertly controlling the region anymore. That’s what.
This is why the White House and State Dept. have reacted to these bids for freedom in such muted tones. They’d have preferred the dictators, since the dictators kept the populaces docile and dependent, instead of rebellious, demanding and potentially sovereign as they are becoming now.
Of course, the timing could not be a neater coincidence–or more unfortunate for Washington and its dictator-enablers. In 1989, around this time, the Caracazo was raging in Venezuela. It began on February 27 and continued until March 4. Days of rage–utterly unplanned, spontaneous, arising in direct response to Carlos Andrés Pérez’s craven kowtowing to the IMF. What was CAP, if not a tame and only nominally elected dictator masquerading as a “great friend of democracy*”? He sent the troops out to fire on protesters in the street, just as Mubarak did with his hired mobs and camel-riding police, or Gaddafi with his hired mercenaries. He alienated his own country’s army, just as Mubarak and Gaddafi have done with theirs. More than a thousand people were killed in those five horrific days. Venezuela is still exhuming their corpses from mass graves and striving to identify those victims to this day.
Democracy did not come to Venezuela overnight or even easily after that. The Bolivarian military rebellions of 1992 failed, and their leaders–including Chávez–went to prison for it. Even when Chávez was released, there was still a lot of work to do: a new movement to organize, the support of various existing “third” parties to rally, an electoral platform, a campaign. It was nine hard-slog years between the days of rage and the election of Venezuela’s first real democratic leader.
And Washington fought it tooth and nail all the way.
And as you can see by all the silly anticommunist “pro-freedom” crapaganda (such as this craptastic opinion piece, which completely ignores the Caracazo–also an event of 1989, that not-so “great year for freedom”) floating through their media, they’re still at it. They have never been able to accept Chávez as a legitimate leader. They could save all that USAID money they’re throwing at Venezuela and Cuba and put it toward free universal healthcare, as Venezuela and Cuba do. But noooo, that would undermine “freedom”, which isn’t supposed to be free. You’re supposed to buy it, after all. Not work for it; not even fight for it; BUY it and keep buying it, no matter how many times you get ripped off when the shit breaks down. That’s the capitalist way.
But who will buy, if there are no clients left?
That’s the real reason they’re claiming that Chávez is a dictator and ripe for toppling. He isn’t, and he isn’t. And the reason he isn’t? He dared to say no to Washington. Go figure, the people actually love him for it. And small wonder: He’s only acting on their wishes! Washington lost THEIR hearts and minds long ago–not only in 1989, but well before that.
And at the rate it’s going, it will never get them back.
*”Democracy”, in this case, to be understood as a euphemism for what Chavecito calls by its right name: savage capitalism.