Monday, March 14, 2005

Give 'em hell, Hugo

Demonstrating that pro-poor policies have massive democratic appeal; expropriating the so-called private property of foreign investors to establish agricultural collectives for peasant farmers; posing the “threat of a good example” to neighboring countries—Hugo Chávez has hit the trifecta. Exceeded it—Venezuela additionally stands accused of providing material support to Columbian guerilla forces considered terrorists by the US. Oh, and by the way, Venezuela is a top-five exporter of oil.

Chávez’s Bolívarian revolution is pushing some dangerous buttons; today’s FT reports tthat Bush has requested adminstration officials to develop a policy to “contain” Chávez and curb the growing influence of his movement over other South American countries. “We have reached the end of the road of the current approach,” says one Defense Department official. In a separate article, FT reports that Venezuelan authorities recently took note of US warships poking about the Netherlands Antilles, not a hundred miles from the Venezuelan shore. A “routine manoeuvre,” to be sure, but let us remember the Maine, and the Tonkin Gulf, too.

And Salvador Allende. Though Chávez started out as a populist reformer, he’s now an open advocate of socialism, an outspoken critic of imperialist neoliberalism and its “Third Way” masquerading, a friend to Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba, a model of successful egalitarian change, the subject of a US-backed military coup in 2002 that failed because of a popular uprising, and, he reasonably alleges, a current target of US assassination plans. Did I mention tbat Chávez was democratically elected? (Condoleezza Rice: The Organization of American States must hold accountable "leaders who do not govern democratically, even if they are democratically elected.")

It would be irresponsible for me to endorse his government and what it calls a revolution—I know far too little about either—but I watch their reforms with interest, and US intervention with trepidation and shame. Here’s Chávez speaking at the World Social Forum in January:
We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, a project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a humanist one, which puts humans and not machines or the state ahead of everything. That’s the debate we must promote around the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/16/2005 11:46 PM  

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