Thom Hartmann interviews Greg Palast, who knew Chavecito as well as any journalist ever could. Incorruptibility counts hugely with Greg Palast; as a fiercely independent journalist himself, he hates being beholden to anyone. So it’s significant that he doesn’t hesitate to admire Chavecito for refusing to be bribed! That, and the redistribution of wealth, and oh yeah: Chavecito’s enormous intelligence. Anyone who thinks Chavecito was a “buffoon”, go talk to Greg and let him set you straight. He says with no hesitation that Chavecito is “the smartest guy I ever met”. Not a saint, mind you, but a damn good and intelligent leader. One who made a lot of difference to Venezuela, a difference you can actually see, even in the poorest parts of Caracas.
So, what are his criticisms of the late leader? Well, he disagrees with Chavecito’s letting the coupmongers of 2002 go to, as he puts it, “play with their money in Miami”! I agree with Greg there myself. If it were up to me, I’d have buried those bastards all with my bare hands. And I am as democratic a socialist as you will ever find anywhere; I don’t even believe in the death penalty, but for them, I’d cheerfully make an exception! They committed high treason, they murdered innocent people, they nearly murdered a popular elected leader, and they should, by rights, be rotting for it, along with every US military attaché, diplomat and businessbastard who supported the coup. Think of the message THAT would have sent!
But Chavecito being the kind of awesome guy he was, he magnanimously refused to throw the book at them. And as crazy as that may sound to Greg, me and probably you too, it turns out to be of the “crazy like a fox” persuasion. Because anyone who wants to single him out as a draconian dictator will have to confront the fact that he let all his enemies run around unfettered, like the silly chickens they are, squawking loudly about their so-called lack of freedom and free speech (!!!) while he got on with the business of changing Venezuela for the better.
And he did. Oh boy, did he ever. And he turns out not to have needed any help from the traditional ruling classes at all. So much for their “natural superiority”! Those oligarchs may have nearly all the money in Venezuela, but their brainpower is inversely proportional to it; even the best plans of their doofy (and crooked) leaders, like Manuel Rosales (remember him? He’s Peru’s problem now!) have never been more than bad copies of Chavecito’s oil-powered public welfare programs. Which have worked so well that extreme poverty is now virtually extinct in Venezuela, while overall poverty is less than half of what it was, unemployment is also cut by half, illiteracy is zero, and healthcare and education free and open to all. And it’s all been paid for by the revenues of that Venezuelan oil, the same that the coup was launched over in the first place. Here’s some more of Greg, this time talking to Paul Jay on The Real News:
And who’s mad that the oil money isn’t flowing to their pockets? Those same stupid, inbred oligarchs who have the unmitigated chutzpah to question the constitutional order they had no problem violating in April 2002. And some truly nasty, shadowy buzzards in the US, too: the Koch Brothers. Whose money, not coincidentally, is propping up a lot of media campaigns against the ‘Cito. Still. Even on the edge of his grave, they can’t stop hounding him. Or defaming him.
The comforting thing is, no one will mourn any of these vultures when THEY are gone. Compare and contrast that with Chavecito…
Good luck finding a more popular leader anywhere.