If you watch only mainstream media in the US you know Hugo Chavez as a dictator, a socialist, and a communist. As a side note, whenever you hear someone accused of being both a socialist and a communist in the same news report your brow should arch in with incredulity.
A socialist is not a communist. If the government runs the education system, or the health care system, those are socialist programs. Socialism is not synonymous with evil, as a staunch Fox News viewer might automatically assume, and in a socialist dominated society everyone does not work for the same wage, and does not live the same lifestyle, as one might expect in a communist society. It’s a false equivalency.
Chavez was born July 28th 1954 and died on March 5th 2013. This was not a simple man, not one so easily labeled with the sticker good or bad. He was President of Venezuela from 1999 till the day of his death, and was into his fourth term before his passing.
In the early days of his rule he held enormous popularity, up to 80% approval ratings, especially in the poverty stricken capital of Caracas. In fairness it should be noted he did change the laws to allow for unlimited terms if reelected, and there are those who claim vehemently that he’s used propaganda in order to become reelected.
The fact that there has been questions surrounding the legitimacy of Chavez’s continual reelections and usage of propaganda should be placed in context. George W Bush lost to Al Gore. Fox News called it, and the rest of the mainstream media followed. By the time the truth of the votes came out, the game was already decided by momentum and popular opinion. It was no mere coincidence that his brother Jeb Bush was the Governor at the time in Florida. That’s an article for another time though, for one could go deep into the corrupt political rabbit hole.
On a broader scale, is anyone naive enough to think propaganda doesn’t play a part in American politics? A central role, in fact? 95% of the congressional elections in 2012 were won by candidates with the most funding. The more money you have in your campaign, the more ads you can run on TV, the more rallies and phone calls that can be made, the more posters and stickers distributed. This is all propaganda, especially in consideration most of the information associated with these adverts is frankly bullshit.
So lets put all that aside and take a look a few good things Hugo Chavez did do. He provided free healthcare, education, subsidized food, clothes and electronics throughout many of the poorest parts of the country, which certainly contributed to his popularity. He didn’t play along with the US terms when it came to oil, and that was his critical mistake so far as the perception the Western media colored him with.
The man was certainly not a saint. He supplied oil to the Syrian ruler Assad during a period – one that continues today – where Assad was murdering his own people in the thousands. There are also opponents of his who went to prison on what many claim to be trumped up charges. But again, does America, who launches catastrophic wars in the Middle East based on lies, and who drone strikes American citizens abroad without due process, as well as killing thousands of innocents when targeting terrorist targets, have any moral high ground on which to stand when judging Hugo Chavez? I forgot to mention the NDAA act – the fact American citizens can be indefinitely detained without trail. And why not name drop Guantanamo while we’re at it.
The crime rate and poverty rate in Venezuela was high, and one would be a fool to imagine there was no corruption at the highest tiers of the government. But this is the status quo these days, and you would be hard pressed to name a country absent of the virus of power that infiltrates the upper echelons of society and government world wide.
This article neither an endorsement or condemnation of the life of Hugo Chavez. My intent is simply to draw your attention away from the talking points you might hear on CNN, Fox, CSPAN, or other major media outlets. It’s entirely possible that Venezuela and the world may not be better off for the fact of his passing.
[ Read more at abc.net.au ]