You are NOT allowed to like Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela who recently died of cancer. You are not permitted to mourn his passing, or have any favorable opinions of him.
You must regard him as a dictator, an enemy of democracy, and a criminal. He must be linked in your mind with Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein. Chavez was a “bad guy” and that’s the story you must swallow.
Never mind these pesky facts:
* In Venezuela under Chavez, the number of citizens living in poverty was reduced by fifty per cent. The number in extreme poverty was cut by seventy per cent. The poor were (for the first time ever) given access to public education and health care.
* With Chavez as the beginning, socially responsible regimes have become the new normal across South America.
* Hugo Chavez is the most popular figure in the history of South America since Simon Bolivar.
* Chavez was democratically elected three times, in landslides. This in spite of the tens of millions of dollars spent by the US and oil companies to support his opponents. The elections were “fair and square” and verified by the UN. The opposition did not claim electoral irregularities and conceded graciously in each case.
But somehow, we are supposed to hate the guy, even now that he is dead.
It’s about the oil.
Venezuela is sitting on a reserve of more than one trillion barrels of oil, which is way more than Saudi Arabia has.
When Chavez came into office, his country was living in peonage. The average person was illiterate, malnourished, and oppressed. Hundreds of millions of dollars were being sucked out of the ground by Exxon, BP, Shell, and Chevron. They were allowed to keep 84% of the money they made from this resource.
Then, in 2001, Chavez and the Venezuelan congress cut that back to “only” 70%. With the government’s slice doubled, Chavez started to do something long overdue in Venezuela: He started building schools and clinics, and training people to staff them. His efforts paid off, as the literacy rate soared and infant mortality rates dropped dramatically.
But the big oil guys were not happy, especially the Bush Crime Family and their associates.
So, they decided to do the same thing they have done many times in the past: Overthrow a democratically-elected government, and replace it with a right-wing dictatorship.
I am not going to go into the details of all of the cases in which the CIA has done this, but there have been successful coups (Allende in Chili, ) and failures (Castro) during the many years this has been going on. In the Congo, Indonesia, Ecuador, the Phillipines, and Iraq we have done this very thing.
So it was that we bought and paid for a plot to overthrow Chavez in 2002.
On April 11 of that year, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean. The following morning, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nation’s Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela – giving a whole new meaning to the term “corporate takeover.”
US Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed “President” and the leaders of the coup.
Bush’s White House spokesman admitted that Chavez had been “democratically elected,” but, he added, “Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters.”
After what happened in Florida, he ought to know!
The citizens were outraged, and marched on the capitol, demanding the return of their elected president. With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the Presidential Palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona returned his captive Chavez within hours.
Did Chavez then execute the plotters, lined up against some adobe wall? No, he proved to be more civilized than they were. He declined to extract retribution, and simply went on with his plan to make life better for the people of Venezuela.
Chavez had provoked this takeover plot not just by reducing some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. It’s what he did with that oil money that drove the oil barons and the wealthy Venezuelan elite to accept the CIA plot to overthrow the government.
80% of Venezuelans are negro e indio (Black and Indian) and poor. Chavez, himself negro e indio, had, for the first time in Venezuela’s history, shifted some of the oil wealth from the privileged class that called themselves “Spanish” to the dark-skinned majority.
Chavez’ shifting of oil money from the rich to the poor would have been grudgingly tolerated by the US. But Chavez went even further.
Venezuela had millions of acres owned by a tiny elite group of plantation owners. The vast majority of citizens never owned land, and never would. Chavez’ congress passed a law in 2001 requiring untilled land to be sold to the landless. It was a program long promised by Venezuela’s politicians at the urging of John F. Kennedy as part of his “Alliance for Progress.”
The largest of the landowners, the Heinz Corporation, didn’t like that one bit. In retaliation, Heinz closed its ketchup plant and fired all the workers. Chavez then seized the Heinz’ plant, paid Heinz the appraisal value, and put the workers back on the job. Chavez had just pissed off America’s powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz’ husband, Senator John Kerry, now U.S. Secretary of State.
Then he did something that really pissed off the Bush administration. In 2006, his goverment started allocating 10% of their refinery production (Citgo) to a program that helped poor people with reduced prices on heating oil… in America! The program cut the cost of needed heating oil by 40% during a crisis, and the program continues to this day. The problem is, there were a bunch of high rollers who were making rapacious profits off the high price of heating oil. There were hundreds of millions tied up in the oil futures market. While Chavez’ generosity might have helped some poor Americans keep warm, it was a major fucking for a few important people on Wall Street.
Those are some of the reasons our CIA and the big money guys wanted to knock him off.
Before Hugo Chavez, the citizens had no land. They had no public education. They had no health care. They had no voice in their government. They lived lives of misery and poverty, except for a few wealthy elites.
After Chavez, Venezuela has a thriving economy. There are schools and clinics all over the country. Unused land is being bought by the former serfs, and is being cultivated. The gross national product has doubled. Everyone has a vote. Electricity, plumbing, clean water, and other advances are reaching every corner of the country.
Simon Bolivar is regarded as the “George Washington of South America.” If this is the case, then Hugo Chavez is the Abraham Lincoln of South America.
But we must hate him.
We must always hate him, because that is what we have been told to do by those who control what we are allowed to think. (GATOR)