Chavez 145

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?

145 thoughts on “Chavez

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  • mark golding

    Moving to Craig’s ‘top level thread’ – I have a great affection for graciousness and here again is the perfect example:

    “Personally I love the comments threads. I nominate the “not forgetting the al-hillis” thread as the greatest comment thread in the entire history of the blogosphere (for which I claim no personal credit, no comments by me there). And I am extremely attached to the community of regular commenters – equally to those who tend to agree and to those who tend to argue, without which it would all be very dull.

    Of course, my personal favourites are those who mostly agree with me but sometimes don’t. But pretty well everyone I value. I even miss Larry sometimes. And I really do miss Anticant, Postman Patel and others who have shuffled off this mortal coil since we started.”

    I am also constantly inspired even heartened by those contributors here who can think outside the box intuitively.

    Maybe hope is becoming reality and that ideal place is slowly coming into focus at last.

  • Dreoilin

    Just testing to see if I’m banned (since it doesn’t appear to have been Kebab-Kukked)

    BTW, has Jon quit?

  • Clark

    Mark Golding, I have no news about Jon. I’ve seen no comments from him in ages. But after Jon installed the maths “Captcha” hardly any spam got through, so maybe after a while Jon just stopped monitoring the threads.

  • guano

    I’d prefer a shrill rant to a shill one. I’d rather kick a dead rat into a plastic bag than go to Cameron’s funeral. The difference being between a hero who has struggled for justice, education and better living conditions for the people of his country and the world and a loser, riding on the back of the Lib-Dems, who has done exactly the opposite and driven through reforms that will destroy the NHS. Chavez has died a hero. Of course Cameron could change.

  • alan campbell

    When I moved to Colombia in 2002, Caracas was seen as a nice place to go for a bit of R+R. Now, after all the years of Chavismo, it’s a corrupt shit-hole with perhaps the worst crime rate in the world – certainly the highest homicide-rate. That is Hugo’s legacy. In the meantime, the situation has reversed – Colombia is booming and Venezuelans come here to get away from the chaos. Countries such as Brazil, Chile and Peru are far better examples of how to reduce poverty rates without any of Chavez’s ideological madness and posturing. Once again CM follows the well-worn tradition of some anti-US lefties of defending my enemy’s enemy no matter who they are or what they do. Stick to writing about Ghana and the ‘Stans, Craig.

  • alan campbell

    Guardian readers pay tribute to man who would have banned the Guardian

    GUARDIAN readers were today in mourning for a man who would have banned the Guardian if it was in Venezuela.

    The death of President Hugo Chavez has robbed Britain’s left wing of an heroic figure whose bravely authoritarian regime stood up to America and journalism.

    Julian Cook, from Finsbury Park, said: “He was sort of democratically elected and in many ways Venezuela was kind of almost a free country. I’ll miss him so much.”

    Emma Bradford, a level six Guardian reader from Stevenage, added: “He introduced free healthcare and free education and if you have those two things then why on earth would you need a free press?

    “Yes, we have those things in Britain and we have a free press, but – for our sins – we are much more complex than the noble Latin American peasants.”

    She added: “I only use Venezuelan petrol in my Saab because it has been properly taxed.”

    Tom Booker, from Hackney, added: “Journalists would have had a much easier time in Venezuela if they had just agreed with President Chavez. If you read his autobiography you’d realise that he was actually very nice.

    “The oil tax paid for precious, beautiful things like schools, hospitals, secret police and the wildly popular TV show Stop What You Are Doing and Listen to the President.”

    Meanwhile, tributes were also paid to Chavez by the usual arseholes.

    Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Gerry Adams all said he was a great man, which is pretty much all you need to know about Hugo Chavez.

  • OrwellianUK

    @Alan Campbell. Massive distortions of the truth from you. One of the reasons by the way that there is a huge drug and crime problem in Vz is because the West can’t stand to see a good example being set and has been engaging in the usual habit of destabilising the society with CIA drug trafficking. Chavez has been attacked in various ways since he got into power including a failed coup attempt.

  • Mr. Grumpy

    As a long term expatriate resident of Ghana, not involved in the mining industry, I have to correct the record on Newmont.
    They were awarded the “Most Outstanding Corporate Taxpayer of 2011” by the Ghana Revenue Authority.

    In the 2012 tax year, they paid a total of $180,568,902.06 in various taxes. $132,264,125 in Corporate Tax alone(Ghanaweb 23/2/2013 and several other publications).

  • Yossi

    I am interested to know the real reasons that Caracas has the highest crime rate in the world. Apart from the Alan Campbell rant it was referred to in the recent Frontline discussion which can be viewed on YouTube . I get the impression that Chavez found too few people who he could trust and had his drive to ameliorate conditions of the poor.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Dougie Scourge posts as follows about me :

    You say:

    “I’m neither denying nor affirming anything…”

    Sounds a bit Zionist to me.

    Well spotted! To come clean, I got a telegram from Jerusalem late yesterday instructing me to use that expression. It came straight from the PM himself and I got a bonus of 1.000 new shekelsn which I have deposited with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Martin (01h37)

    “The EU is a dictatorship by definition, who voted for the ‘leaders’?”

    Which definition would that be, Martin?

  • nevermind

    Chavez was right for the majority of poor people who needed a politicians to act for them, tough shit that the right wing exploiters, the hoity poloity, could not carry on leaving them in the dark with dirty drinking water and exploited.

    I was in Caracas in 1969, then it was led by a military Junta under Caldera, the right wing icon of Venezuela who sucked up to the US and did very little for the poor of Venezuela. We only stayed for two days, then we sailed to Maracaibo.

    @Craig, looks like you have banned the wrong person.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    This is a gem from OrwellianUK (07h36) :

    “@Alan Campbell. Massive distortions of the truth from you. One of the reasons by the way that there is a huge drug and crime problem in Vz is because the West can’t stand to see a good example being set and has been engaging in the usual habit of destabilising the society with CIA drug trafficking.”

    You forgot to mention the rôle of the Pope-elect and the Elector of Brandenburg. And oh yes! where are the Zionists?

    You chose the right handle, you chump.


    La Vita è bella, life is good (should chumps be banned?)

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Alan Campbell’s two posts provide a refreshing counter-view to the hagiographies and panegyrics littering this thread. Well done!

  • Jon

    Dreoilin, Clark, Mark – thanks for thinking of me! I am still reading, and doing occasional techie stuff behind the scenes. I am less active as a commenter, as I found the tone recently to have gotten a touch more confrontational, which gets tiresome after a while.

    I expect I will be back after a break from it, but in the meantime, I am fine, and still cycling around Brum! Best wishes 🙂

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)
    7 Mar, 2013 – 12:27 am

    “My last act of the evening before going out tango-dancing is to offer sincere thanks :
    *to Clark and Bert for answering the question I put to Doug Scourge.”

    Habbabkuk now that Clark and Bert have provided you with the “Sources, facts and figures” you asked for will you now agree with my statement that:

    “Venezuela under Chavez has also made considerable gains in social justice, healthcare, education and literacy.”?

  • Clark


    Thanks for dropping in; excellent to see you. Please send me a mods/hosts list e-mail as I’ve lost access to one of my contacts lists, and I’m unable to notify anyone in the event of technical problems. I apparently experienced a brief outage today; “Unable to establish a database connection” some time around 15:00.

    “Confrontational […] tiresome […]”

    Yes, I agree. If I visualise the threads as a face-to-face debate, the attacks upon Mary seem quite surreal. They’re so distasteful that it’s difficult to imagine them occurring in real life, where an elderly lady would be respected for speaking her mind as a privilege of age.

    Equally unbelievable were CE’s aggressive accusations that Arbed was lying, even after she’d graphically and personally described events after she’d been raped. And yet CE claims that he was acting in support of protection of women. Truly bizarre!

    I understand that people’s moral standards lapse somewhat when they are permitted anonymity, but I find it increasingly difficult to believe that such comments are submitted honestly and in good faith.

  • Rose

    Clark – speaking as an “elderly lady” myself – I do not expect to be treated with respect just because I’ve managed to keep breathing for a bit longer than most on here; Mary stands head and shoulders above Hab and Co on account of her brains and diligence; so thanks for the gesture, me darlin’,but stuff the privilege of age schtick. xx

  • Clark

    Rose, it’s just incredibly distasteful to witness. I think that if such haranguing were happening face-to-face in a public place, Habbabkuk would be risking being physically attacked, and certainly wouldn’t get away with it for weeks on end, especially while hiding behind a mask as s/he does.

  • AK

    @Alan Campbell:

    The power of satire is that it exaggerates reality, but that said, it actually does have to be based in reality. That Daily Mash article of course isn’t. Most Guardianistas/BBC today are Pro War Left types, and name me a single media organization that Chavez has suppressed.

    (RCTV doesn’t count. They supported a foreign-backed coup against a legitimately elected leader, and got their just desserts for what is nothing less than state treason. They would not have been allowed to go on broadcasting in any other country).

    The higher violent crime rates is one of the very few real failings of the Chavez administration. However, it should be noted that:

    (1) It was part of a general upward trend in violent crime across all of Latin America;

    (2) That it increased is in itself, ironically enough, an argument against Chavez being a dictator. Because say what you will of them, but dictators tend to crack down on violent crime very hard and quite successfully. Not for purely altruistic reasons, of course, but because they do not wish to have alternate centers of power and as such desire to monopolize violence.

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