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Hugo Chavez: Hero of the Bolivarian Revolution Dies March 5, 2013

Posted by Garibaldy in Socialism.
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Hugo Chavez has died. An inspiration to many, and a reminder that a better society can be built in modern circumstances. As well as of the vicious nature of reaction in the repeated attempts to get rid of him. An heroic figure who leaves a legacy of hope.

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1. ar scáth a chéile - March 5, 2013

Sé mo laoch, mo Ghile Mear,
‘Sé mo Chaesar, Ghile Mear,
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin
Ó chuaigh i gcéin mo Ghile Mear

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WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2013

+1

He wasn’t perfect but he tried. I hope we see his like again.

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WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2013

Desperate Irish Times piece, clearly culled from a US source…’gleeful nationalizations’… Well, yes, and why not?

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Garibaldy - March 6, 2013

I think bank bailouts are ungleeful nationalisations. I know which I prefer. Owen Jones tweeted that he halved child poverty. As opposed to increasing it.

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EWI - March 6, 2013

@ WbS

Because once the plebs start realising that things don’t have to be all the financiers’ way, who knows what might happen?

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Ghandi - March 6, 2013

+1

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2. richotto - March 6, 2013

Its very hard to get a handle on whats going on on the ground in Venezuala. I heard on the Pat Kenny radio show last week a Guardian journalist who lived there for a number of years and was absolutely scathing firstly about the alleged waste of money and disfunctionality of the state services and secondly on describing strong arm tactics coming from the man himself. I hope he’s mistaken or perhaps disposed to supporting some form of opposition as the thing will fall apart in quick order with the picture he was painting. The 45% vote for Capriles is high for a man who is supposidly only representing the well off and no longer with a media dominance to boost support.
It seems to depend who you talk to there its so
polarised. Perhaps in the circumstances it would be better to hold a quick election.

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EWI - March 6, 2013

Doing better. C- ?

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doctorfive - March 6, 2013

That was Rory Carroll > http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Carroll-in-wonderland-how-the/

Was actually a fairly decent take down of his book in the SBP of all places at the weekend. Reviewer said Chávez took the piss out him at a press conference a few years ago that may or may not have coloured his opinion.

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Mick Hall - March 6, 2013

Carroll’s piece in the Guardian today is typical of him, he cannot ignore the gains Chávez’s government brought about because there are there for all to see, yet he cannot help dripping poison, he has really embarrassed himself over Hugo and almost totally ignores the opposition forces, both at home and abroad the Chávez democratic revolution faced.

One does not have to be a cheer leader to cry three cheers for the life of Chávez, one just needs a heart and a belief in a better way of doing things.

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3. EWI - March 6, 2013

By the way – RIP. A giant in the Boliverian tradition, not least because politicians who place the people first are so rare these days, in South America and elsewhere.

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4. DerryComrádaí - March 6, 2013

The words of Bernadette McAliskey at Dominic McGlinchey’s funeral –I think she was quoting from Nora Connolly O’Brien’s oration for Seamus Costello -come to mind:

“Our world suddenly feels like a smaller and more vulnerable place without him”

For all his flaws, he was the Spartacus of our age.
Slán mo chara

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5. richotto - March 6, 2013

He was the certainly most charismatic and successful left wing leader since Castro and a trailblazer for Latin America. It should be recognized how he used socialism not in a prescriptive or dogmatic way from the begining but as developing from the Christian traditions of equality and in response to undemocratic opposition forces. Its to his credit that he never attempted to rig the vote and introduced democratic practices for the first time.

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6. Ciaran - March 6, 2013

He restored democracy to Venezuela – for that alone, he should be remembered forever.

Alas, he upset a few industrialists, landowners and the CIA, so he’ll forever be accused by Western media of having invented poverty and crime in the country.

The Irish Times had devoted an editorial or two to Chavez in recent times, and I think reference was made therein to his ‘cynical use of State resources to gain re-election’ or some such. Imagine using State resources for the people of the country. He should have adopted Ireland’s energy distribution policy!

Anyway, RIP.

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EWI - March 6, 2013

and I think reference was made therein to his ‘cynical use of State resources to gain re-election’ or some such.

Yes, I mean imagine a Western or even an Irish political party doing the same.

If course, his real, unforgivable offence was giving this largesse to the poor rather than the middle-class or the rich.

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7. Roger Cole - March 6, 2013

I agree with Ciaran. The Irish Times was a good newspaper may years ago when Gageby was Editor, but for some time now it has been an active supporter of imperialist policies, so of course it hated Hugo Chavez. He will be missed, but his opposition to imperialism inspired many people through the world and not just in Venezuela, and that inspiration does and will not end with his death.

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8. LeftAtTheCross - March 6, 2013

RIP. The world needs more Hugo Chavezs in it.

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Tawdy - March 6, 2013

Couldn`t have said it better myself. RIP.

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9. doctorfive - March 6, 2013

RTÉ

http://www.rte.ie/news/business/2013/0306/374368-little-reaction-in-oil-market-to-chavez-death/

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.

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Dr. X - March 6, 2013

That’s the sort of thing which makes you want to cry, laugh, and break things all at the same time.

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CL - March 6, 2013

Insightful commentary from RTE.
How dare he squander his country’s wealth on social programmes when he could have built the world’s tallest building with slave labour.
http://mgjack.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/worlds-tallest-building-unveiled-in-dubai-built-by-slaves/

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Dr. X - March 6, 2013

The RTE story has now been deleted from the website. But I hope the damage has already been done. . .

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eamonncork - March 6, 2013

That paragrah actually reads like a piece of left wing satire.

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Jonathan - March 6, 2013

It’s always fascinating when the PR mask drops and the priorities of our elites becomes apparent: that building glittering cities with appallingly exploited workers is a greater achievement than giving those workers a tolerable quality of life….

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Dr. X - March 6, 2013

It turns out that the story was originally from AP:

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2013-03-06/little-reaction-in-oil-market-to-chavez-death

Which I have to admit surprised me: I could picture in my mind’s eye some little fee-paying school graduate mouthing that nonsense, while slurping from his/her frappucino.

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Jonathan - March 6, 2013

It’s back again! But minus the bit about the Middle East’s glittering cities… http://www.rte.ie/news/business/2013/0306/374368-little-reaction-in-oil-market-to-chavez-death/

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Jonathan - March 6, 2013

More about the glittering cities: “Thousands of South Asian migrant workers building a US$27 billion island development in the United Arab Emirates face severe exploitation and abuse, in some cases amounting to forced labor, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Labor-supply agencies, construction companies, and repressive laws are responsible for the abuse.” http://www.hrw.org/news/2009/05/18/uae-exploited-workers-building-island-happiness

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CMK - March 6, 2013

That’s actually worse than publishing it in the first place! If that had happened in Venezuela Rory Carroll would have had blowout.

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Jonathan - March 6, 2013

On the subject of quotes appearing and disappearing, I note that ‘hiredknave’ left a comment on the Irish Times article http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2013/0306/breaking1.html
which seems to have been deleted (it may have been by ‘hiredknave’ himself, of course; I don’t know). It read (in part): “Then there is the ‘authoritarian’ charge. You see, given that this article was written in a newspaper under the European Union regime, there is a certain irony here. You see, it wasn’t Hugo Chávez who, after suffering a referendum defeat, said “answer the right way next time – or else!” He isn’t a former Goldman Sachs bigwig, installed at the behest of international banking confreres to impose their will on the population. He didn’t threaten people with destitution unless they changed the constitution to make neo-liberal ideology the substance of everyday life. He didn’t prioritise the repayment of banker debt over the funding of hospital treatment, or education, or social assistance payments. When rampaging fascists target immigrants in a country ransacked by big European banks, it wasn’t Hugo Chávez whose rule they sought to uphold as its ultimate guarantors. No, the people involved in those cases were the ‘democratic’ leaders of the European regime. So it is not as if those of us who live under the Irish oligarchic regime are in any position to lecture any other people about how their political or economic system ought to be run, or to prescribe remedies for ‘reform’ that curiously enough require public spending cuts that mirror the policy of the European regime.”

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CMK - March 6, 2013

No, he didn’t delete it; it was deleted by the IT moderator. I think there’s a clarification at the Cunning Hired Knaves site but I can’t link to it.

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CL - March 6, 2013
WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2013

The RTÉ yoke is vile. And why was hiredknave’s comment taken down. Perfectly valid commentary.

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dmfod - March 6, 2013

Speaking of Human Rights Watch, they have put out an absolutely disgraceful press release on Chavez’s death that reads like it was written by the US ambassador, the right wing opposition, or both

Apparently halving poverty, providing free meals to six million children; near-universal free health care, building 350,000 family homes and doubling education spending as a proportion of GDP doesn’t count as progress on human rights, because none of gets so much as a mention:

“Venezuela: Chávez’s Authoritarian Legacy
Dramatic Concentration of Power and Open Disregard for Basic Human Rights

Hugo Chávez’s presidency (1999-2013) was characterized by a dramatic concentration of power and open disregard for basic human rights guarantees.

After enacting a new constitution with ample human rights protections in 1999 – and surviving a short-lived coup d’état in 2002 – Chávez and his followers moved to concentrate power. They seized control of the Supreme Court and undercut the ability of journalists, human rights defenders, and other Venezuelans to exercise fundamental rights.

By his second full term in office, the concentration of power and erosion of human rights protections had given the government free rein to intimidate, censor, and prosecute Venezuelans who criticized the president or thwarted his political agenda…”

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/03/05/venezuela-chavez-s-authoritarian-legacy

Perhaps HRW’s outrageous bias might have something to do with this:

….”The Chávez government also sought to block international organizations from monitoring the country’s human rights practices. In 2008, the president had representatives of Human Rights Watch forcibly detained and summarily expelled from the country after they released a report documenting his government’s violation of human rights norms. Following the expulsion, his then-foreign minister and now chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro, announced that, “Any foreigner who comes to criticize our country will be immediately expelled.”

Under Chávez, the government also sought to discredit human rights defenders by accusing them of receiving support from the US government to undermine Venezuelan democracy. While local nongovernmental organizations have received funding from US and European sources – a common practice in Latin America where private funding is scarce – there is no credible evidence that the independence and integrity of the defenders’ work has been compromised by international support.”

….No mention whatsover of the funding of the 2002 coup by the US National Endowment for Democracy, of course….

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WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2013

+1

I read that at lunch and found its tone very curious, an almost complete lack of contextualisation.

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dmfod - March 6, 2013

It’s pretty much par for the course for Human Rights Watch in their role as the ‘progressive wing’ of US imperialism although they are usually they are bit more subtle about it – whilst calling for US-led ‘humanitarian interventions’ in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Libya, Syria – basically any developing country experiencing an internal conflict.

Occasionally they do something really outrageously like this though and the mask slips.

For instance in 2003 they hired Marc Garlasco straight from targeting US strikes on Iraq at the Pentagon, to travel there as a ‘human rights activist’. He literally ended up ‘monitoring’ the effects of his own targeting, including an attack that killed seventeen civilians which he had ‘cheered’ a few days earlier from inside the Pentagon.

Garlasco said in an interview: “months later, there I am, standing in this crater … And I’m face to face with this seventy-year old Iraqi, who’s telling me that his children are dead, and his grandchildren are dead, and his whole family has been wiped out. And that was a really hard moment … You know, on the one hand, I took part in … in annihilating this guy’s family … so there’s some level of participation there. But on the other hand, I knew what we did to make sure that civilians were not killed; I knew how hard we were working.”

Garlasco write HRW’s ‘independent’ report on the war, which severely criticised the Iraqis for ‘failure to take adequate precautions to protect civilians from the dangers of military operations’ (Off Target, 2003 p5).

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EWI - March 7, 2013

There is a substantial point that so many of these supposed human rights and democracy groups actually are cat’s paws for the US – directly or indirectly.

That these tars and obscures the work of the legitimate ones is probably counted as a twofer in Washington, London etc.

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Jonathan - March 7, 2013

The ‘hiredknave’ comment is now back on the IT website…

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10. Eugene - March 6, 2013

A public book of condolences has been open in Connolly Books

COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRELAND

President Hugo Chavez

A public book of condolences has been open in Connolly Books, Essex Street, Temple Bar, to allow the Irish public to express their condolences and solidarity with the family of Comandante Hugo Chavez and the revolutionary working people of Venezuela.

It will be an opportunity to show our solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution and to honour the passing of a great internationalists and anti-imperialist.

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eamonncork - March 6, 2013

I won’t make Connolly Books Eugene but my condolences and solidarity all the same.

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11. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - March 6, 2013
12. CL - March 6, 2013

Only a few subway stops from the great wealth of Manhattan the south Bronx is one of the poorest areas in the U.S.

‘ Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, began his love affair with the Bronx during a visit in 2005. Since then, he and his socialist government have funneled millions of dollars of aid to the South Bronx, home to New York’s poorest Congressional district, through Citgo Petroleum, the American subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.’
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/nyregion/21citgo.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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13. Paul Wilson - March 6, 2013

There are lots of Venezuelans here in the Canaries and the death of Chavez is recieving blanket coverage here on TV and in the local Press. The coverage seems quite balanced. RIP, a true political giant and a fighter against Imperialism. Hasta La Victoria Siempre.

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14. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - March 6, 2013

US spook George Dempsey on Matt Cooper on Today FM. Denounced Chavez as a ‘buffoun’ and then admitted that if he was poor in Caracas, he would have voted for him.

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15. El Bandito - March 6, 2013

The widespread ignorance of the realities of Chavismo is near beyond comprehending.

Read and learn a little from a leftist progressive site that prefers the hard facts over nostalgic imaginings:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2013/03/hugo_chavez_s_legacy_the_former_venezuelan_president_was_not_the_typical.html

It is easy to understand now how European leftists made excuses for the Soviet despots for so long.

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RosencrantzisDead - March 6, 2013

I always find it amusing when journalists refer to their own work in support of a piece.

IN fairness, this bloke in the Independent contradicts much of what the article above claims:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/hugo-chavez-was-a-democrat-not-a-dictator-and-showed-a-progressive-alternative-to-neoliberalism-is-both-possible-and-popular-8522329.html

Who are we to believe?

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Pasionario - March 6, 2013

Maybe both! Ambiguity…ambivalence — it’s the human condition, doncha know?

For the the facts suggest the following:

1: That Chavez spent vast sums on social programs which have improved the lot of the poor whilst fending off a resentful, right-wing, and often racist opposition which tried unsuccessfully to overthrow him in 2002.

2: That Chavez’s government has simultaneously been characterised by huge incompetence, waste, and corruption — giving rise to a class of so-called “boligarchs” who have grown rich off the oil wealth.

3. That Caracas has become the most dangerous city on earth since Chavez came to power and the country’s infrastructure is crumbling.

4. That Chavez didn’t care much for woolly old liberal notions of press freedom, the separation of powers, and the independence of the judiciary.

5. That a left-wing government in Brazil, without significant oil resources, has, during the same period, made impressive progress on poverty reduction without resorting to the same authoritarian methods.

6. That the pantomime of secrecy and lies preceding Chavez’s death was a travesty of democratic government.

Now, why can’t a reasonable person agree with (1) but also (2),(3),(4),(5), and (6) and accept that Chavez was a pretty flawed leader albeit one who did some good in some ways and may well have been preferable to any of the available alternatives?

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Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - March 6, 2013

Because most people on the left don’t have great confidence in the ability of the working class to liberate itself and many long for some charismatic leader to do it for them. At best its a Chavez or Morales…at worst its dial a dictator time, where all sorts is excused. Its a rough old world.

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RosencrantzisDead - March 7, 2013

Maybe both! Ambiguity…ambivalence — it’s the human condition, doncha know?

Not always: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_to_moderation

He either rigged elections or he didn’t.

Personally, I gave up trying to follow things in Venezuela because for every article I read, I would come across another contradicting everything I read in the previous article. I lack the time to go around investigating the authors of these claims, so I just opted not to bother.

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revolutionaryprogramme - March 7, 2013

+1

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dmfod - March 6, 2013
WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2013

I think there’s not getting past the fact that it was a mixture of good and bad and in the context of Venezuela he really was as good as it could get given that context. But that said it’s difficult not to think that the coup attempt in 2002 skewed a lot that came after. Certainly I think on a human level it would have called for an almost saintlike demeanour for Chavez and his government not to have become more – well, paranoid (and with good reason in large part), after that.

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Ed - March 7, 2013

Most leftists I know are perfectly capable of taking a balanced view of Chavez and of other left governments, recognising the flaws as well as the achievements (although I would not accept the summary of those pluses and minuses which you give above). If they are inclined to put more weight on the achievements, particularly today, it is no doubt because the mainstream coverage will be so relentlessly, hysterically tilted in the opposite direction, with no regard for the facts. And also, I’m sure, because many of us are genuinely saddened by the passing of a leader who actually left his country (and his continent) a better place than when he found it – something that could be said of very few people who have exercised power in the last few decades.

(in reply to Pasionario)

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Pasionario - March 7, 2013

Okay, but this guy came into power at an extraordinarily favourable juncture and he has governed throughout a period of sky-high oil prices. Given the amount of money that was available to him — about a trillion overall — he should have achieved much much more. A vast amount of that windfall was clearly squandered and the achievements of Chavismo are undoubtedly pretty fragile. The comparisons with FDR and Clement Attlee which Tariq Ali likes to make are beyond bogus.

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CMK - March 7, 2013

Of, course, that trillion dollars would have been conscientiously spent by the anti-Chavez forces had they been in power over the same period. I mean, that was one of the hallmarks of the anti-Chavez social forces in 20th Century Venezuela: their dedication to spending that countries oil wealth in raising living standards for the people. My ideological bias has obviously prevented me from acknowledging all of the good work that neo-liberals have done in Latin America over the past 50 years. Comparisons with FDR and Clement Attlee are totally appropriate.

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Ed - March 7, 2013

Yeah, you’re right, his record was far more impressive than that of Attlee or FDR. No comparison indeed. Neither of them had to contend with repeated attempts to overthrow their government by force (and nor did Lula for that matter – by the way, the trope of posing the good, moderate Lula against the bad, radical Chavez is undermined by the fact that Lula supported Chavez from beginning to end).

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Uncorruptable - March 7, 2013

You failed to mention,

Unemployment has dropped from 14.5% of the total labour force in 1999 to 7.6% in 2009

Population has increased from 23,867,000 in 1999 to 29,278,000 in 2011. The annual population growth was 1.5% in 2011 compared with 1.9% in 1999

GDP per capita has risen from $4,105 to $10,801 in 2011

Poverty has decreased – in 1999, 23.4% of the population were recorded as being in extreme poverty, this fell to 8.5% in 2011 according to official government figures

Infant mortality is now lower than in 1999 – from a rate of 20 per 1,000 live births then to a rate of 13 per 1,000 live births in 2011

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Ed - March 7, 2013

Slate, a ‘leftist progressive site’? That’s a good one. Their coverage of Venezuela has been bilge from start to finish, as exemplified by today’s 2-Minute Hate-fest. Anyone who compares Chavez to Stalin or Brezhnev, as you do, is spitting in the eye of reality, and you are in no position to speak about ‘widespread ignorance’ when the most glaring ignorance is your own.

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Ed - March 7, 2013

(that was in reply to El Bandito)

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16. lancethruster - March 6, 2013

Anyone who joked in front of the UN assembly about Bush’s smell of sulfur can’t be all bad. The media liked to focus on his faults, whether real or quite often the product of coordinated smears, while downplaying/ignoring what he worked to accomplish for his people.

Via con Diosa, Hugo.

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17. dmfod - March 7, 2013

More bullshit, misleading coverage of Venezuela in today’s Irish Times editorial which claims Venezuela is beset by ‘sluggish’ growth and implies Brazil’s is doing better with a ‘more moderate, gradualist approach’ that has seen it ‘become a global player in recent years’.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2013/0307/1224330868499.html

They don’t allow comments on their editorials but 5 minutes of internet research reveal:

Economic growth in 2012: Venezuela 5%, Brazil 1%.
GDP per capita 2011: Venezuela $12,749 Brazil $11,640
Gini Index measure of inequality (lower is better):
Venezuela 44.8 Brazil 54.7
UN Human Development Index: Venezuela 73rd Brazil 85th

Also, if Brazil is ‘becoming a global player’ perhaps the fact that it is a country of 200m people as opposed to 30m might have a something to do with it.

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Pasionario - March 7, 2013

One word: Oil.

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Ed - March 7, 2013

One word: Population; therefore, Brazil should be doing much better than Venezuela, it should be the Japan of Latin America. That’s no more fatuous a line of argument that yours. Thinking you can reduce a complex phenomenon to a single word is usually a mistake.

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CL - March 7, 2013

Democracynow has a good discussion on ” a revolutionary leader whose democratic-socialist policies not only transformed his country, but helped steer the entire Latin American region away from U.S.-backed neoliberalism.”
Chavez is dead but Chavismo will live on under Nicolas Maduro, former bus driver and union official.
http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/6/hugo_chvez_dead_venezuelan_leader_leaves

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18. CL - March 7, 2013

‘Chávez survived a military coup backed by Washington and oil strikes that crippled the economy but once he got control of the oil industry, his government reduced poverty by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. Millions of people also got access to health care for the first time, and access to education also increased sharply, with college enrollment doubling and free tuition for many. Eligibility for public pensions tripled. He kept his campaign promise to share the country’s oil wealth with Venezuela’s majority, and that will be part of his legacy.

So, too will be the second independence of Latin America, and especially South America, which is now more independent of the United States than Europe is.’
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/06/chavez-hated-for-his-virtues/

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19. Uncorruptable - March 7, 2013

The revolution will not be televised – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0363510/

This is a must see, produced by Irish documentary maker who was in the miraflores palace at the time the attempted coup was staged, whether you decide the documentary maker is biased or not, the footage that was taken when Chavez returned for 48 hours after being taken shows the true character of the man,

“To those of you who oppose me, fine, oppose me, i wish i could change your mind, but you cannot oppose this constitution (holds up a copy of the constitution) this is the peoples book, its like the ‘popol vhu’, the book of the maya’s, you have to recognise this, but most important dont be poisoned, dont let them poison you with lies”

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20. doctorfive - April 15, 2013

Tense night gives to euphoria for one half at least.

Maduro 7.505.338 (50,66%) Capriles 7.270.403 (49,07%)

Incredible but much action left I think

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