Thursday, March 07, 2013

Tariq Ali: Hugo Chávez and Me

March 7, 2013.
Politicians like him had become unacceptable. What he loathed most was the contemptuous indifference of mainstream politicians in South America towards their own people. The Venezuelan elite is notoriously racist. They regarded the elected president of their country as uncouth and uncivilised, a zambo of mixed African and indigenous blood who could not be trusted. His supporters were portrayed on private TV networks as monkeys. Colin Powell had to publicly reprimand the US embassy in Caracas for hosting a party where Chávez was portrayed as a gorilla.

Was he surprised? “No,” he told me with a grim look on his face. “I live here. I know them well. One reason so many of us join the army is because all other avenues are sealed.” No longer. He had few illusions. He knew that local enemies did not seethe and plot in a vacuum. Behind them was the world’s most powerful state. For a few moments he thought Obama might be different. The military coup in Honduras disabused him of all such notions.

He had a punctilious sense of duty to his people. He was one of them. Unlike European social democrats he never believed that any improvement in humankind would come from the corporations and the bankers and said so long before the Wall Street crash of 2008. If I had to pin a label on him, I would say that he was a socialist democrat, far removed from any sectarian impulses and repulsed by the self-obsessed behaviour of various far-left sects and the blindness of their routines. He said as much when we first met.
 Read the entire article here.

Comment: This is an insightful article and a must read in the wake of Chávez's untimely death.  We have indeed lost one of the greatest revolutionaries and visionaries of the post-communist era as Tariq Ali says.

But his death is not final in the sense that ideas live on, particularly those that inspire revolutionary movements.  We cannot ignore the poor and dispossessed that gave form to the revolutionary ideals of Chávez.

Their struggle is not over and so Chávez lives on.

It is for this reason that I was moved by the opening paragraph of George Ciccariello-Maher's article entitled "Not One Step Backward, Ni Un Paso Atrás: Preparing for a Post-Chávez Venezuela" (March 6):
It’s not for nothing that the words of the great revolutionary folk singer Alí Primera are on the tip of many tongues:
Los que mueren por la vida
no pueden llamarse muertos
Those who die for life
cannot be called dead.
Filling Chávez's shoes will be impossible but his ideas and achievements stand as inspiration to move on.

Viva Chavismo!


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