Every possible political insult in the book has been thrown at President Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s Socialist Revolution; aspiring dictator, totalitarian, authoritarian, even juvenile, irresponsible stabs such as “oil-intoxicated autocrat” are heard or read regularly. But Mr.Chavez utilizes the name-calling game to his advantage to make the Bush administration, the imperialist world, and the western media look foolish time and time again. The war of words goes on and even reputed media such as The Economist continue to relentlessly attack the Bolivarian Revolution week after week, not granting any credit where legitimate credit is do, to the creation of arguably the most profoundly democratic nation in the world. This paper will expose the inaccuracies, contradictions, and aggressive slander printed in several articles on Venezuela in The Economist.
The western media and the Bush administration continuously attack and trash talk Venezuela’s programme of natioanalisation as undemocratic and violating the rights of private property. President Chavez is certainly not concerned, nor should he be, about expropriating capital from enormously wealthy multinationals, or about breaking a business deal, for example, between Verizon and giant magnate Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world who owns three quarters of Mexico. Also, Venezuela seems to have been nice enough so far to conduct nationalization ‘lawfully’, that is, within the imperialist superstructure of power, after the finance minister declared that any nationalisation would require compensation be paid. Despite even this, Venezuela should not have to compensate big business financially or otherwise, what is inside Venezuela rightfully belongs to the Venezuelan people, and even if to the West this is considered the pillage of capital, Robin Hood theory prevails because multinationals have been plundering Venezuelan wealth and resources for decades. It is also important to note that the proposed nationalizations are for industries such as telecoms, electricity, oil, and natural gas, key industries which should be in national hands in the first place, at the service of the Venezuelan proletariat.
In the same article, The Economist again cries undemocratic abuse at the fact that the Venezuelan government will not be renewing “the broadcasting license of RCTV, the largest opposition run television channel, meaning it will be off the air by June.” Because of this the Venezuelan oligarchy, the opposition, and the imperialists accuse President Chavez of authoritarianism, of undemocratic ways, of attempting to silence the opposition. In May and early June of 2007 the opposition organized a protest campaign proclaiming “No al Cierre”, no to the closure of RCTV, which is actually just a slander campaign in collaboration with western media to make Chavez and his government look like oppressive criminals. The Economist writes that “by closing RCTV, which he dislikes because it supported a coup against him in 2002, Mr.Chavez is sending a message to the rest of the media to toe the line, or else.” It is important to stress, first of all, that RCTV did not simply support the 2002 coup attempt, it actively participated, and this has been explicitly proven. In actuality the Venezuelan government is not being undemocratic by lawfully not renewing the broadcasting license of a delinquent television station with a slanderous agenda, which unlawfully participated in a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government. Neither is the government trying to send a message to the rest of the media, they are simply not tolerating criminal aspirations within their own borders and responding adequately as any country would do. Take for example if the Democrats in the U.S. tried a full-blown coup attempt against the Bush administration, with military and media involvement, and foreign collaborators, it is absurd to think the Republicans would stand by and do nothing, and I suppose President Bush would openly be labeled as an autocratic dictator in the international media for taking legal action against the coup conspirators.
In December of 2006 Hugo Chavez and his party won the presidential election again quite comfortably with 63 % of the electorate, an election which was fair and clean with the opposition candidate Manuel Rosales claiming 37 %. A few months later western media was still printing slander unwilling to admit that the election was without fraud, even though they know the result was completely legitimate, and despite the fact that even Mr.Rosales himself has stated on more than one occasion that the election process was impartial. A few days after the election The Economist printed : “a minority still believes Mr.Chavez can win only by fraud. Many Venezuelans distrust the government dominated electoral authority.” The article, however, immediately after goes on to say that in response to these allegations the government “has made efforts to accommodate its critics. Mr.Rosales’ aides say they will be able to detect any manipulation of the vote.” Also around the time of the election “Mr.Rosales quashed moves by radical anti-Chavez groups to take to the streets alleging a non-existent fraud.” clearly indicating there was no fraud to complain about, yet still the media continues to make unfounded claims that the election process may have been tampered with.
In the days following the election President Chavez elaborated on a set of new socialist measures the government has already set in motion, and will continue to establish during the next few years. Referring to the new measures with negative connotation, The Economist compares them to “a similar package in 2001, which sparked a three year opposition campaign to unseat the president that included a failed coup attempt and a two month general strike.” The coup attempt in 2002 failed because of massive protest demonstrations that overwhelmed the center of Caracas and the Presidential Palacio de Miraflores, frightening the opposition, and forcing them to return President Chavez to power. The two month “general strike” was in fact not a strike, but rather a bosses’ lockout with intentions to paralyze the Venezuela economy. These attempts also were eventually squashed by mass revolutionary support, and oil production resumed under workers’ control. This mighty opposition campaign culminated with a referendum in 2004 to option the removal of President Chavez from office, in which the Venezuelan public again voted confidently in favour of the Revolution. Since Hugo Chavez and the MVR were elected nearly ten years ago, they have won no less than 10 electoral processes, including elections and referenda. When all this is considered, the skepticism about the legitimacy of the December 2006 election begins to look even more ridiculous, and most certainly unfounded. For almost a decade now, every time the reactionary oligarchy and the helping hand of imperialism have attempted to ignite counter-revolution, the solidarity of Socialist Internationalism and the Venezuelan people have always responded with vigorous and impassioned support.
Dissident Accusations, Education, and the Military
Teodoro Petkoff, ex-editor of an opposition newspaper and supporter of Mr.Rosales’ presidential campaign accuses President Chavez of totalitarianism, he vigorously criticizes economic policy, and how Mr.Chavez handles domestic management. Shortly after the December election he accused the Revolution of “politicizing the armed forces” and of “using education as a tool for indoctrination.” Of course the armed forces are systematically politicized as they are in every single country in the world, and of course education is being used to instill genuine, truthful, and righteous socialist ideals and values, just as capitalist orthodoxy is preached through education in capitalist society. The imperialist armies of capitalism are politicized with extreme right-wing ideology, the notion that pre-emptive contingency aggression is ethically acceptable to forcefully bring about the ‘necessary’ structuring of neo-liberal globalization. Economic and military dominance and superiority becomes a ‘virtue’. The armed forces of socialist nations on the other hand are politicized as the guardians of humanity, as defenders against imperial and mercenary violence. They are instructed principles of aggression only in safeguarding their motherland or as freedom fighters in liberation of their exploited human brothers and sisters. They are taught the necessity and significance of economic independence and political sovereignty. In the Imperialist world there are public national armies of imperialism to serve private interests, and there are private mercenary armies of imperialism to serve private interests. In the world of Socialism there are only people’s armies to serve the interests of humanity.
Capitalist education indoctrinates children and adolescents with a few basic principles. The acceptance of a generic, standardized life, obedience to superiors and to the powers-that-be, a dangerously over-zealous sense of competition, and the dogmatic urgency of individual success and accolades. The “indoctrination” Mr.Petkoff speaks of, on the contrary, is simply children and adolescents being instilled with a strong Love of Humanity. They are educated to understand that respect, equality, and community must be the core values of our international family, and to utilize these pillars to become “the fullest, the most complete of human beings”, someone “who is never a stranger to the warmth of human contact.” This is the nucleus of values which is instilled and politicized into the Socialist children and armed forces of Venezuela and of the world, and achieved not only with education, but naturally through dialectical human interaction and experience, a method which is the complete opposite of conventional indoctrination as the West sees it.
The Imperialist camp and the western media are always quick to brand so called populist governments as authoritarian, totalitarian, etc., but they tend to forget that ‘populist’ governments are popular for a reason. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution with 63% in the latest presidential election, and President Mbeki and his African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa win elections with about 70% of the electorate. These are two good examples. The fact that people’s governments are so convincingly victorious in landslide elections does not necessarily indicate a breach of democracy, on the contrary, unified nations which support a government with substantial majorities, and governments who genuinely listen to the people’s voices and demands, in fact manifest the best examples of democracy. The media tends to overlook the fact that Mr.Chavez’s government is popular because they have channeled billions in oil revenue to social programmes in healthcare, education, and food subsidies to a people neglected and decimated for a century by self serving puppet oligarchies and IMF economic packages. The Revolution is also proceeding with the nationalization of the economy in order to secure financial independence with complete political sovereignty for its people as the ultimate goal. All these ventures which favour the working class in a country whose populace is extremely hostile to neo-liberal policies due to decades of suffering and exploitation under Punto Fijismo and the heavy hand of Imperialism. That is why President Chavez’s government is popular.
The media tends to forget that ‘populist’ leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Ex-President Mbeki of the African National Congress are popular because they make great efforts to alleviate poverty, and are now lifting millions into the middle-class in a country that used to be majority poor and oppressed for decades under the apartheid regime. Because they platform around Black Economic Empowerment, (BEE), in a country with a population that is 80% Black.
Just because a party receives more than 55% of votes in an election does not immediately indicate fraud or authoritarian rule, as the neurotic, paranoid, double-standard logic of the west understands it. There is such a thing as a government with an overwhelming majority of people’s power, in a fully and uncompromised democratic country.