Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hugo Chavez' Dream

June 11, 2007 -
"Whoever has a fridge they do not need, put it out in the village square. Whoever has a truck, a fan, or a cooler they do not need, give something away. Let's not be selfish. I demand you do it...

Millions signed up for membership in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

Chavez said: "If I were to end up with only five people out of those five million, I'd be happier...

"I only want to be accompanied by true socialists."

He did say these things (the sequence might be off.) Hugo Chavez dreamt of a country and a world without poverty, racism and oppression. In 1989 he was a Lieutenant Colonel and paratrooper in the Venezuelan army. Of humble background Chavez, at the age of 17 had  entered Venezuela's military academy. Soon be found himself assigned to fight Castro backed guerrillas. As I understand it he came to sympathize with them under the influence of his brother Adan.

On February 27, 1989 a rebellion of the poor broke out over IMF sponsored "reforms" that included increasing the cost of gasoline and transit fares.

The President, Carlos Andres Perez, also known as CAP, had been elected as democratic socialist successor to Jaime Luschinsky. CAP.had run for President on an anti IMF platform. Like today the country was in crisis precipitated by a decline in petroleum prices. Like so-called socialists in our time, CAP ditched his campaign persona, became "responsible" and initiated austerity measures that especially hurt the poor.

The poor rose up in protest especially in and around Caracas. A massacre ensued. It's disputed how many people were killed by the police and military but it is probably to be reckoned in the thousands.

Chavez and fellow soldiers like Diosdado Cabello plotted to overthrow the government which had done this and was hated by the poor and mainly  non - white majority.

On February 4, 1992 the soldiers made their move with some civilian allies.

Five groups moved towards their assigned objectives. Chavez's group had the most important task - to capture CAP. They were foiled and taken prisoners. Chavez was allowed to go on television to urge the others to surrender.  This television appearance made a hero of the brown skinned soldier with the voice of a man of the people.

Eventually the government felt compelled to release Chavez.

In 1998 the two main parties, Democratic Action roughly analogous to the US Democrats and the Christian Democrats, the approximate analogue to the Republicans were discredited and out of steam. Chavez was elected carrying 17 of 26 States, with 56% of the vote. Turnout had been 63%. If Hugo Chavez is remembered for one thing it might be his tendency to say exactly what he was thinking. No one who saw his first appearance at the United Nations will forget him complaining about the odor  of sulfur left behind by US president George Bush.
I'm blogging about this stuff because I feel a connection to Venezuela. My wife is from there and I recently spent three months in Venezuela, for a lot of that time in a rancho that was under construction by a relative. People who follow world events know that Venezuela is going through hard times. In fact Venezuela's going through tribulations similar to the events that led to the Caracazo uprising and massacre. down, corruption is rampant, and the two main parties, one the Socialists founded by Chavez and the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable are seemingly estranged from the people and largely discredited.
I often say that foreigners should keep their noses out of the business of Venezuelans yet I care so deeply it's hard for me to follow my own rule. Venezuela's I guess I will just say that I believe that there is a road ahead, that the country and people have great resources so I will refrain from saying exactly what I am thinking.

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