Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Victory in Venezuela

The remarkable referendum results in Venezuela are not only a victory for the people of Venezuela, but are also a victory for the people of Latin America and the rest of the world (lots of referendum links here). The vote was almost 60% against a recall. Since this was just a vote to determine whether another vote would be held, 60% for Hugo Chavez can be considered to be a landslide of support for his administration and the direction he is leading the country. It is a stunning smack-down for the playboy parasite opposition and their American supporters. Some comments:

  1. The opposition has been using calls for a recall for months to stifle Hugo Chavez' ability to carry out his full legislative agenda. It was clear that they never really wanted a vote which they knew they would lose, but just wanted to create enough controversy to provide the background for another coup attempt. They again provided forged signatures in their efforts to cause a recall, hoping that Chavez would take the bait and fight over the signatures, leading to his portrayal as anti-democratic. Jimmy Carter, who completely shredded what little reputation he had in carrying the can for the opposition, was part of this plan, and it no doubt was intended to lead to another coup where the Americans would 'restore democracy' to Venezuela (just as they have provided democracy to Iraq!). Hugo Chavez, who seems to have a great political sense, ruined their plot by accepting the dodgy signatures, thus leading to the referendum which he no doubt was sure he would easily win. Now he has an unassailable mandate to do for the poor of Venezuela what he has been promising to do.

  2. It is probably a bit of an oversimplification to say that the Bush Administration hates Chavez because they are Evil and he is Good, but not much of an oversimplification. Chavez stands for redistribution of stolen assets from the playboy parasite class to the desperately poor, for an end to the American neo-liberal trade policies, for Latin American solidarity against American neo-colonialism, for control of the price of oil in the hands of oil producing countries, and for a fair deal for oil producing nations from the multinational oil companies. The thugs in the Bush Administration hate all these things, but are probably the most angry about plans to negotiate the royalty rates on oil production. They consider the exploitation of oil producing nations to be sacred, and any deviance from this sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the world.

  3. This victory will hopefully light a bit of a fire under Lula in Brazil and Kirchner in Argentina. Lula talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. Kirchner has been failing badly, having specifically promised not to pay the IMF on the backs of the poor, but apparently headed to doing just that. The bully boys from Washington must have arrived with suitcases full of bribe money.

  4. As opposed to the horrible governments in the United States and Britain, this victory represents yet another example of a return to sanity in most of the rest of the world. Over and over again we see countries turning away from American client parties towards leftist or at least centrist parties. Neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism are being rejected everywhere. The exploitative trade policies which have been labeled 'free trade' are seen for the neo-colonialism that they are. The bad example of the United States is doing wonders for the internal politics of much of the rest of the world.

  5. Hugo Chavez may in fact be the most dangerous man in the world. Despite the enormous economic power of the opposition, funded in part by money from the American government, and the vehement opposition of all the private media outlets in the country, he keeps winning elections. He does this by promising to help the poor, and, to the extent he is able, keeping his promises. Tied in with this is the fact that his Bolivarian revolution has as an essential part an outreach program to the poor, where he is able to solicit support and ideas, and give the poorest people a feeling of empowerment which they have never felt before. This structure gives Hugo Chavez a tremendous ability to mobilize his supporters, an ability which is almost unprecedented in the world. Can you imagine what politics would be like in the United States if there was a political party willing and able to mobilize the American poor to protest and to vote? The United States is beyond saving, but all over the world, and in particular in Latin America, the influence of Chavez' style of political organization will be profound. Cultural and economic factors have led to the de facto disenfranchisement of poor people. A feeling of hopelessness and futility means that the poor don't vote, and having no one who represents their class interests to vote for makes failing to vote a rational choice. Hugo Chavez has single-handedly provided a non-traditional, non-doctrinaire model of political organization which avoids many of the pitfalls of old socialism, and may end up changing the world. As a Canadian foreign affairs adviser to Chavez, Sharmini Peries, said:

    "I think this is the class struggle of our life time. If this revolution succeeds, it means hope for the world."


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