The BBC just said that Venezuela is a dictatorship, and the election will be close between left and right. They missed the irony. The incongruity and imbalance of the Chavez demonisation is ridiculous. Sky News did a five minute piece in which the evidence of him being evil and demented was that he called George Bush a devil and declared the age of imperialism over; he did however reduce poverty and improve housing, they added. I am not sure they left their audience with the same certainty as their presenters that he was a bad thing.
There are valid criticisms to be made of Chavez’ attitude towards those who honestly disagreed with him. A dictator he was not. I am not going to detail the legitimate (there is some) criticism, because the airwaves are full of neo-conservatives doing that full time.
Chavez’ overwhelming achievement was to apply succesfully in a developing country the international law doctrine of a state’s inalienable right to its mineral resources, as declared by the UN General Assembly in 1968. One of the fundamental reasons that the developing world is so poor is that states have been unable to take a reasonable share of the economic benefit from exploitation of their mineral resources. The main reason for this is that multinationals have bribed corrupt politicians for the rights at little purchase cost and low taxation and resource share.
I know Ghana best. Newmont, the world’s biggest gold mining company, has revenues of 1.5 billion dollars in Ghana and pays no corporation or revenue tax. Not one penny (or rather pessowa). And causes vast environmental despoilation and social dislocation. That is how the sytem works, throughout the developing world.
The doctrine of alienable right enables states to simply cancel such scandalous deals, and that is exactly what Chavez did in Venezuela’s oil sector. Cancelled them and imposed fairer arrangements. He applied the huge increase revenues to massively succesful poverty alleviation via social programmes, housing and education.
The western states of course do everything to stop developing countries doing this, on behalf of the multinationals who control the politicians. They threaten (and I am an eye-witness) aid cancellation, disinvestment and trade sanctions. They work to make you a political pariah (just watch the media on Chavez today). They secretly sponsor, bankroll and train your opponents. The death of such “dangerous” leaders is a good outcome for them, as in Allende or Lumumba.
Chavez faced them down. There are millions of people in Venezuela whose hard lives are a bit better and have hope for the future because of Chavez. There are billionaires in London and New York who have a few hundred million less each because of Chavez. Nobody can deny the truth of both those statements.
Now which group owns the mainstream media and politicians who are spitting bile against the dead man today?