Hugo Chavez has become a lightning rod for populist socialism, brashly carrying the torch for the revolutionary Left in the face of stiff opposition. He is at the forefront of a mass movement which is an inspiration to Marxists throughout the world.
The movement has been successfully bearing fruit for the masses in Venezuela. It is not Chavez's tenacity or charisma that has kept him in power, but his sincerity. He truly is a man of the people, with the ability to forge a bond between the masses, the government, and the military resulting in the unification and mobilization of the country. All of this allows Venezuela to build a better tomorrow.
Chavez has also come to realize that there is no “third way,” and that socialism is the only real alternative to neo-liberal capitalist hegemony. In an interview on April 20, 2005, Adan Chavez, Venezuela’s ambassador to Cuba, plainly states:
The President used to consider the option of the so-called “Third Way” – a way between capitalism and socialism. We examined that and, as the President said, we have realized that for the Bolivarian revolution there is no third way possible, we must choose the way of socialism. […] Socialism is a system in which man is above Capital. That is clear.It is also clear that these ideals are spreading throughout Latin America and beyond. At least partially emboldened by the Venezuelan people's stand against imperialistic influences, people’s movements, from Mexico to Chile to Italy, are taking power under the banners of socialism and communism.
History of Oppression
The history of Venezuela is one of an apartheid society. First, the Spanish colonized the indigenous people, forcing them to work the cocoa and coffee plantations, then importing slaves to aid in the work. After gaining independence, Venezuela remained an oligarchy ruled by the white European descendants of the Spaniards. For 200 years, the two-class society continued until the 1980s when it became clear to even the military that enough was enough. The military’s main role was to suppress mass demonstrations by hungry, dark-skinned people –- the citizen-slaves of Venezuela who could not even afford to buy food. It is out of this situation that the military was forced to break with the capitalists and throw in its lot with the working people and poor of Venezuela.
Improvements Despite the Odds
No one will argue that Venezuela has not faced tough economic hardships in recent years. Nevertheless, despite massive assaults by Capital on the domestic product of the nation through coup attempts and employer sponsored lockouts, the economy continues to improve. This trend is accelerated by the government's policy to take mothballed capital and put it into the hands of the people. By these means, factories and farmland have been revived after having lain idle for years. Additionally, the government has redirected billions of US dollars into social programs, urban revitalization, community building, and small businesses. The net result is that Venezuela’s economy has grown at a pace of 5-percent for six consecutive quarters, totaling of 17-percent for the year of 2004. Perhaps Mr. Bush could take some lessons?
In addition, the Chavistas are addressing the feminization of poverty and indigenous peoples’ rights, reducing unemployment rates drastically, raising minimum wage by 26-percent, granting land titles to peasants (currently at over 75,000) –- the list goes on. It is clear that the working people and poor of Venezuela are bearing the fruits of their hard work by seizing their just dues from the clutches of capital.
A few of Chavez's closest friends
Town hall meeting - Chavez style
The red tide rises, the symbol plain,
of human right and human gain...