Chavez is dead-A A +A
Saturday, March 9, 2013
VENEZUELA'S firebrand president Hugo Chavez is dead at 58. Demonized by Western media, Chavez earned the ire of the United States for his anti-American stance, nationalization of key industries including oil production and close relationships with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and other "pink tide" leaders of Latin America.
While tributes have poured from friends in South America, Hollywood liberals actor Sean Penn and directors Michael Moore and Oliver Stone also sent their condolence to the late president’s family. If only to prove wrong the unfair treatment of Western media of their leader, thousands, if not millions, of people poured into the streets of Venezuela to offer their respect and support to the revered leader.
I read of the biography of Hugo Chavez and was nearly teary-eyed. The man rose from poverty through education and excelling in the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences. He saw the difficult plight of his people in the remote military posts he was assigned.
Jailed for a failed coup attempt, Chavez was able to win the popular vote in a democratic election of 1998. From Feb. 2, 1999, Chavez, until his death on March 5, 2013, was voted president by Venezuelans for three consecutive terms.
He espoused a political ideology called Bolivarianism, a mix of philosophies and beliefs that had socialist leanings (but rejecting the Soviet Union model), critical of the wealthy and the corrupt, and basically pro-poor.
He did this not through an iron fist but by elections and referenda that brought about a new constitution, created participatory democratic councils, nationalized several key industries, increased government funding of health care and education, and significantly reduced poverty.
In an article published in The Independent, Owen Jones wrote, “The so-called Bolivarian Revolution was overly dependent on Chavez's own reputation, and inevitably his death raises questions about its future direction. But have no doubt: Chavez was a democratically elected champion of the poor.”
Chavez did not want to die yet, as he had to finish the revolution that he started.
But that was not to be. He is dead. Will his pro-poor and nationalistic policies continue? This is dependent on how deep Chavez sowed the seeds of Bolivarianism.
Surely the oligarchs, the rich and outsiders, and foreign interests have waited long enough to regain power and wealth. Will the masses that Chavez dedicated his life to protect his legacy? We will know in the critical months ahead.
For now, Venezuela should honor Hugo Chavez by laying him to rest at Venezuela's National Pantheon of military heroes, alongside his hero, Simon Bolivar.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 09, 2013.