With the death of Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez, I have asked myself why I have been so supportive of his administration over the years. Here’s a list why I compiled with an important criticism at the end:
First, I must admit, that like Mr. Chavez, I am quite critical of capitalism, especially when ran in third world countries where much of the land and other resources belong to outside owners. He socialized many industries and much land in an effort to bring more control of the Nation’s resources for the people.
Secondly, I love a leader from a small country who lives shaking his fist at a much larger nation which opposes it, much like the relationship between Venezuela and the United States or Cuba and the United States. I love an underdog.
Thirdly, and perhaps superficially, I liked his charismatic style which at times could be clown-like and at other times be inspirationally moving. I’ll never forget Comandante Chavez speaking at a leftist rally on an Argentine soccer pitch about 10 years ago. The crowd started to spontaneously “pogo” (jump straight up and down) like they were at a rock concert. Then soon enough, about 10 seconds after the crowd began jumping, Chavez began to do the same behind the podium in an effort to identify with the gathered peoples that went crazy. It was both entertaining to see a 50-some-odd year old man pogoing like a 20-something in the crowd, which quickly built a bridge with the attendants that the other speakers did not.
Fourthly, he consolidated power under himself as much as possible during his three terms as President. Now as an American democrat, I hate any limitations on democracy in my home country, but in Venezuela, things are different. Venezuela, before Chavez won his first election as President in 1999, was ruled by oligarchs and foreign industry that kept the masses extremely poor without much hope for bettering their condition. His opponents even conducted an (as The Guardian reports) Bush-administration supported failed coup in 2002 in an effort to regain power and go back to the pre-Chavez status-quo. So since the “Chavista” movement was so fragile in the face of its critics, he had to consolidate power. The same thing could be said about Cuba and North Korea for the first 20 years of their leaders’ reign as supreme leader. I know this sounds like outright heresy in face of the U.S. constitution but other countries are not America. They do not have the same equal rights that we have here. There are nefarious parties connected to outside powers who want to economically occupy that nation. Sometimes consolidating power is the only way for a leader/party is the only way to maintain control for the better.
Fifthly, the overall reason I admire Chavez so much was for his revolutionary vision even though the nuts and bolts never worked out during his time as leader. Most people in the mainstream media will make big of this fact as they should, but he tried his best as a great ideologue in an effort to help the masses in Venezuela who had been forgotten by the oligarchy for so very long.
And finally, a criticism I have of Mr. Chavez is since Venezuela was turned away by the United States during the Bush years and labeled as anti-American, Chavez made friends with other ostracized leaders. Now his friendship with both Qaddafi and Ahmadinejad to me, despite the Venezuelan hard times, is serious black marks on his record and should be recognized.