Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Venzuelan President Hugo Chavez has died from cancer at age 58 -- the significance of his life and presidency will be struggled over for years

[MB: Verso Books put up this excerpt from Tariq Ali's book to give an example of what the corporate media are willfully ignoring/masking about Chavez's presidency.]

Just under a million Venezuelan children from the shanty towns and the poorest villages now obtain a free education; 1.2 million illiterate adults have been taught to read and write; secondary education has been made available to 250,000 children whose social status excluded them from this privilege during the ancien régime; three new university campuses were functioning by 2003 and six more are due to be completed by 2006.

As far as healthcare is concerned, the 14,000 Cuban doctors sent to help the country have transformed the situation in the poor districts, where 11,000 neighbourhood clinics have been estab- lished and the health budget has tripled. Add to this the financial support provided to small businesses, the new homes being built for the poor, an Agrarian Reform Law that was enacted and pushed through despite resistance, legal and violent, by the landlords. By the end of 2003, just over 2,262,467 hectares had been redistributed to 116,899 families.

The bizarre argument advanced in a hostile editorial in The Economist (as in Gunson's article in Vertigo) during the week of the referendum, namely, that all this was done to win votes, is extraordinarily obtuse. Here the defenders of the global elite confuse their own machinations with reality. In the globalised world, where there are no basic differences between competing political factions of the elite, politics is exclusively about power; a world in which Clinton and Bush's billionaire backers, or the financiers who supported first Thatcher, then Blair, can cross sides with ease.

The Bolivarian currents in Latin America are important precisely because they pose a challenge to traditional cacique politics. That is why they are loathed by the elites and their media propagandists. If Chávez had simply been interested in power he could have easily done a deal with the local oligarchy and won the support of the global financial press. The Bolivarians wanted power precisely so that real reforms could be implemented.

Tariq Ali on Hugo Chávez in Pirates of the Carribean

From Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland) raises the question about where our priorities rest:

In all the hype around the death of Hugo Chavez there is nothing more remarkable that the 'analysis' offered by Associated Press: "Chavez invested Venezuela's oil wealth into social programmes including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programmes. But those gains were meagre compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world's tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi."

More reports:

Democracy Now: In Depth - Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Dies

The Guardian: Hugo Chavez Obituary

ANSWER: Investigating Hugo's Death

The New Yorker - Postscript: Hugo Chávez, 1954-2013

Al Jazeera: Hugo Chavez Spotlight

The Nation: On the Legacy of Hugo Chavez

Greg Palast: Why Did the US Government and Big Oil Hate Chavez? (The Real News)

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