Today, with the Comandante we stand

From the hills around Caracas, the poorest slum barrios, the universities, the workplaces, the people came. More than eighty per cent of all elgible Venezuelans exercising the precious right to vote, freely and fairly and in their millions for the continuation of the Venezuelan revolution.

Ask yourself this; for whom did the poorest Venezuelans vote? For whom did the hardest working Venezuelans vote? For whom did the black Venezuelans  vote? For whom did indigenous Venezuelans vote? For whom did the youngest Venezuelans vote? For whom did the disabled Venezuelans vote?

And then this; for whom did the richest Venezuelans vote? For whom did those Venezuelans with the closest ties to the gold-toothed Miami emigres and the United States, or with “Israel”, vote?

When you have worked out (not too difficult) the answer to those questions you will easily understand why we shared the joy of the Venezuelan masses until the middle of last night on the streets leading to the presidential palace. From the balcony, clutching the sword of Simon Bolivar -the Liberador of Latin America, Comandante Hugo Chavez Frias addressed a crowd so vast and assembled so quickly as to take the breath away.

The doubters were many. They ranged from the absurd to the merely malignant.

The opposition camp of Henrique Capriles Radonski released “exit polls” on election day which claimed that they had comprehensively defeated President Chavez in every province in the country bar one, which they gave to Chavez by 1%!

It was the kind of disinformation routinely fed to gullible (or worse) “liberal” journalists like Britain’s Guardian newspaper and regurgitated to their readers ad nauseam in the run up to the polls. Indeed first prize for irony must go to the Guardian reporters themselves whose first paragraph after the result was announced included the words “Chavez proved his doubters wrong”. Without a word of self-criticism – themselves having been the most unremiting “doubters”.

It is a persistent problem of western foreign correspondents that they seek out the sources who look, sound and think most like them. Venezuela has proved no exception. “Anyone here who hates Chavez and speaks English?” they might as well ask.

This victory, for a president expressing in the most vivid terms, an open challenge to the neo-liberal economic consensus, and an even more vibrant challenge to the “western” camp of war, occupation, domination and interference in the sovereignty of other peoples’ countries is simply dumfounding for the US and its allies. The US government today congratulated the Venezuelan people on their election but couldn’t bring themselves to breathe the name of the man who won it. Again.

This just shouldn’t be happening – and time after time. After all, the prevailing western orthodoxy is that there is but an inch in which politics can live. That some things are simply a given. Tweedle Dee-Tweedle Dum “democracy” and the “free market” to name just two.

But the repeated victories of Hugo Chavez prove that history has not ended, as Fukuyama the neo-con guru claimed twenty years ago. That another way is possible. That the mass of the people can be engaged in politics, and that their hearts can, if captured, beat louder than the drums of despair, disillusion and dread.

For it was the joy of the Venezuelan people which we shall remember most, in the pre-election rallies, in the queues on polling day -which opening hours had to be extended to cope with the swell, and above all in the spontaneous mass celebrations occupying entire avenues leading to the Miraflores Palace within an hour of the result.

Chavez corazon del pueblo” (Chavez is the heart of the people) they sang and sang and with a sincerity to melt the hardest most cynical of hearts.

They really meant it. Chavez really means it. That’s why some hate him so.

He is a leader not for sale, not for rent. He says what he means and he means what he says. He faces his enemies now, newly strengthened by his victory. And his allies are duly strengthened too. He is a spectre haunting the remaining US comprador in Latin America – the governments of Chile and Colombia – and any lingering hopes in Washington that this region can ever again be the US “back yard” as the Monroe doctrine once claimed it.

Hugo Chavez now towers over the progressive anti-imperialist camp in the world. We are many, they are few. The great -in the words of the Irish revolutionary James Larkin- only appear to be great as long as the rest of us are on our knees. Today, with the Comandante we stand.

[George & Gayatri]

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This is what democracy looks like!

Eat your hearts out Fox News, The Guardian, the Observer, The London Times…THIS is what democracy looks like!

After 14 years in power seven electoral victories, subversion by his enemies, unremiting media hostility from both the right wing and the so-called “liberal” press (yes, Rory Carroll we mean you) Hugo Chavez has taken the streets of Caracas by storm today.

Five huge avenidas are right now (1pm) filled to overflow with many millions of people all out for Comandante Hugo Chavez, his Socialist Party and his long project for consolidating national independence, liberation of the Americas from US domination, and the construction of a new socialist society in Venezuela.

His triumphant progress through the whole country in the these the last days of the presidential election campaign has been something miraculous to behold. Even in “marginal” or “swing” provinces where his political adversaries are strongest the crowds have numbered in their millions.

The fruits of the Bolivarian Revolution are hanging ripe now, growth is 5.6% in the first half of this year, wages are rising, new housing springing up, 22 new universities in full swing, 98% of the country eating three meals a day and a promise that by the end of this next term should he be re-elected on October 7th, every Venezeulan will live in a “dignified house”

Pictures of what is happening on the streets here right now are being broadcast via Venezuela’s new satellite – Miranda – their second, the only satellites in Latin America.

So the baying carping critics have no excuse. They can see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears, the cry of the poor, the young, the working people, the intellectuals, the minorities….All with one voice, all with one heart,

“Viva The Venezuelan Revolution!”

“Viva Socialism!”

“Viva Comandante!”

“Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”

| George |

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Chavez by a Knock Out?

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 |

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