Hugo Chavez is the most elected politician on earth having been vindicated seven times at the polls – elections, referenda, he’s won them all. That doesn’t stop Fox News calling him a dictator though, and successive US presidents treating him as if he was.
It’s easy to see – and hear – why neither Washington (or Miami) nor the former oligarchy, the Venezuelan elite ,like him very much. Chavez is like an unstoppable force of nature if you admire him ( as I do ), a bull in a China Shop if you don’t. To say he doesn’t pull his punches would be like saying that Mike Tyson got into his opponents fast. A statement of the blindingly obvious.
On our first day here President Chavez – El Comandante – was laying into the “bourgeoisie” and the “Yankee Imperialists” in the province of Monagas like his political life depended on it (which it doesn’t – he’s comfortably ahead in the polls).
But he always speaks like that -possibly the last world figure so to do..
He was addressing a million people ( and this in one of the few “swing states”), outdoors, but none of the wildly enthusiastic crowd failed to get his message. And if they had there were always his election posters (millions of them) to provide a refresher.
“For national independence, for the workers, without capitalists” is one of the less contentious of his election messages (see pic)
He sketched out the formidable achievements of his 14 years in power (by the way, and I speak as a politician, there is not a fourteen years in elected power anywhere a leader who can command this kind of adulation). Twenty two new universities built, the fifth highest student body in the world, every Primary schoolchild given a free laptop – made in Venezuela. Ninety eight per cent of all Venezuelans eating three meals per day, in a country where the poor used to go hungry, free medical care and a whole raft of gains of the revolution. The one-million strong crowd roared its approval at the mention of every one of these gains, like they’d never heard of them before.
Chavez’ style is interactive. “Hands up all those who’ve used the free clinics we built in this province, medical services provided by 1000 Cuban doctors whom we brought here?”
Practically every hand in the crowd goes up…
“Who here is the candidate of the bankers?” The crowd roar Capriles!!! – the name of his oligarchy and US backed opponent on October 7th
“Who here is the candidate of the Bourgeoisie/Yankee Imperialism/those who would sell the country back to its previous owners?” Answer: Ditto.
I’m currently writing high above the streets of Caracas and the air is filled with revolutionary songs and music, pictures of the Comandante clad here in red, now in blue, always casually dressed always smiling always thrusting forward, are simply everywhere.
It is very heaven to be here amidst a democratic and socialist revolution. It is bliss to be alive, and by the side of one of the most dynamic and succesful conviction politicians on the planet.
This morning we breakfasted with Jody McIntyre the British human rights campaigner, infamously pulled from his wheelchair and dragged along the street by the police during the student uprising against the Labour/Conservative/Liberal democrat tuition fees.
We had each been contemplating the contrast between political leaders in our own country and here in Venezuela.
Hugo Chavez and……..Ed Miliband we said simultaneously.
And both burst into laughter.
Sorry Ed, but really, it’s Hugo Chavez who is the real deal!
| George |