by obscene greed and hubris, the Oligarchs ruling America attempt to
mercilessly crush those who stand in the way of their imperialistic
seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and
generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the
concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest,
sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self interest
are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the
first, they love the produce of the second."
plutocrats rule America behind the clever guise of a constitutional republic rife with
corruption. With an unmatched ferocity in embodying the "traits of
success" discerned by Steinbeck, their Neocon representatives in
the government vigorously protect the interests of the wealthy and
tirelessly push the American system of corrupt avarice on the rest of
the world. Strategies they typically employ include economic pressure,
psychological manipulation through propaganda and media control, covert
intervention by the CIA, and in cases like Iraq, invasion and occupation. What the proletariat has needed for a long
time is a champion for their cause. Plebeians of the world, meet Hugo
there is a viable alternative to plutocracy
America's government fiercely advancing the interests of avaricious
corporations around the world, Hugo Chavez has emerged in Venezuela
as a welcome antithesis. While there is little doubt that Chavez is
complex, acts with a degree of self interest, and has a multi-faceted
agenda, he has remained steadfast in his promise to provide for the
poverty-stricken in Venezuela. His open defiance of US imperialism and nascent attempt to implement a social democracy
make him a rare breed in this world. As they sustain blows to their
economic security, civil liberties, and intellectual freedoms almost
daily under the Bush administration, people around the world can look to
Chavez as illumination in a very dark age/
has tenacity. He was elected president of Venezuela in 1998 and again in 2000 by significant margins of victory. Contrary
to claims of corruption by the Bush administration and its media
lap-dogs, international observers declared both elections to be free.
Chavez survived a coup attempt in 2002, which was openly supported by the Bush administration. Dogged by the opposition of the Oligarchs in
his own country, Chavez overcame a recall election in August of 2004.
His approval margin was a comfortable 59%. The recall was organized and
supervised by the Organization of American States and the Carter Center. Jimmy Carter, noted for his sterling integrity, helped supervise
the referendum process. Carter himself confirmed the legitimacy of the
procedures. Unlike Americans, Venezuelans can rest assured that their
recent elections have not been rigged. Having tenaciously survived several
rigorous tests, Chavez is a president who truly represents a majority of
his people, and has the chutzpah to go toe to toe with the Neocons.
1998, Chavez inherited a nation of extreme "haves" and
"have nots". For years, corrupt Oligarchs had
plundered the revenue from Venezuela 's rich oil reserves. Chavez rode to office on a wave of populist
support for his promises to bring social and economic justice to his
nation. When he took the reins of leadership, 3% percent of the
population (mostly of white European descent) owned 77% of the country's
land. About 80% of the Venezuelan population was of black and
Indian descent. They comprised most of the 21 million poverty-stricken
people in a nation with a population of 25 million. Widespread
poverty in a nation that sits atop the largest oil reserves in
Western Hemisphere? The word unconscionable could only begin to describe the
situation. Enter Hugo Chavez with his grand designs to beat back the
rhetoric or real promises?
Venezuela, just under a million children who live in the many shameful shanty
towns now receive free education. Three new universities offer a
secondary education to 250,000 who would not have had the opportunity
for further education under the Oligarchs. By the end of 2006, there
will be six more universities. In exchanged for subsidized oil, Chavez
has arranged for the immigration of 10,000 Cuban doctors to operate free
clinics for the poor. He has tripled the health care budget. Under
Chavez, over 100,000 families have received land under his Agrarian
Reform Act, despite stiff legal and sometimes violent resistance from
landlords. State subsidized markets offer necessities to poor consumers
for as little as fifty percent of market cost. In 2004, 84% of the poor
in Venezuela saw their income increase 33%. Unemployment decreased from 17% in 2004
to 14% by February of 2005.
has America fared under the Bush Oligarchy?
a poll conducted in February of 2005, Chavez's approval rating in his
country was 70%. Bush's approval rating in April of 2005 was a paltry
45%. The numbers demonstrate who is acting in the interest of their
electorate, and who is not. Despite victory (by landslide popular votes)
in two presidential elections and the recall, Bush still questions
Chavez's legitimacy. Tremendous controversy surrounded both of Bush's
presidential "victories", and he lost the popular vote in
2000. Who is in a position to question whom?
the Bush Oligarchy came to power, over 1600 Americans have died in an
imperialistic war which the Neocons initiated by flagrant lies. The
Patriot Act placed stunning restrictions on the civil liberties of
Americans as Bush and the Neocons leveraged the fear inspired by 9/11.
Theocracy has crept into what is left of America's democracy through Bush's "faith based initiatives".
Corporate interests predominate over the welfare of individuals. At
$5.15 per hour, the pitifully low minimum wage has not increased since
1997. Organized labor continues to weaken as union membership has
declined to about 12% of the workforce. Greedy, profiteering
corporations like Wal-Mart grow exponentially as they strip-mine
the American economy. 45 million Americans do not have health
insurance and the Oligarchs are deepening the problem by slashing
Medicaid's budget. Under Bush, the wealth gap has become a chasm.
The top 1% of Americans own 40% of the nation's assets, and lay claim to
as much wealth as the bottom 95%. The American government is infested
with Neocon disciples of Leo Strauss like Paul Wolfowitz and Karl Rove.
American leaders are driven by a Machiavellian lust for power and
practice deceit like an art-form.
of hands and gnashing of teeth
in deep water in Iraq, America 's Oligarchs do not have the resources to deal with Chavez in their
usual ways. He has fostered a close relationship with long-time
"enemy of the state" Fidel Castro.
is the fifth largest oil producer in the world and accounts for 15% of US
oil imports. Chavez has led a resurgence in the power of OPEC to influence
the world oil market. Under his leadership, oil-rich developing nations
are increasingly demanding a just price for their precious resource to
enhance the quality of life for their populaces. Having learned to wield
oil as an economic weapon to subdue the Neocons, Chavez presents a
tremendous challenge for Rumsfeld and company.
also represents a growing threat to the Neocon agenda to advance the
cause of "freedom and liberty" around the globe. His
philosophy of government is that of a "new socialism", which
carefully balances democratic principles, a constitution, government
intervention in economic matters, and the existence of a private
business sector. In contrast, America espouses laisez-faire capitalism and media-induced psychological tyranny
masquerading as "freedom and liberty". As evidenced by the
occupation in Iraq, George Bush has vowed not to take "no" for an answer. Chavez
is forcing Bush to face rejection.
media loyalists like Fox have attacked Chavez's sanity, reputation,
competence, and legitimacy. The Neocons have tried to unseat him by
supporting a military coup in 2002. Accusations from Chavez, leaks from
the CIA, and US
all point to a potential CIA assassination attempt against Chavez in the
near future. What the Neocons would not give to use their military might
to crush Chavez and seize the bountiful oil fields of Venezuela. With Saddam Hussein, the Neocons did not need to throw too much mud to
turn public opinion against him. Chavez is another matter. Even the
masters of deceit do not lie well enough to discredit him in the court
of public opinion. How galling for them that Chavez's devotion to
the poor inspires such fierce loyalty in his supporters, Venezuelan or
by coups, recall elections, or the $500 million of US military aid to
Colombia (his neighbor), Chavez persists in aggressively pursuing his agenda.
With unflinching devotion, he works to strengthen his nation, tend to
the needs of the poor, and advance his "Bolivarian
Revolution". To defend his people, he recently purchased military
hardware from Russia, which included 100,000 AK 47s and 10 military helicopters. He is
utilizing PDVSA, the state-run oil titan, to finance his social programs
for the poor. To the tune of $4 billion per year (drawn from a company
with estimated profits of $6.5 billion), Chavez is making good on his
promise to share the oil wealth of his nation. He is expanding his
profit base by finding new markets for Venezuelan oil in Brazil
and China . Chavez has increased the royalties that foreign oil companies (like
Chevron) pay to Venezuela. Having raised them from 1% to 16.6%, he is now pushing for 30%.
Following the example of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America
from European powers, Chavez's ultimate goal is to form a coalition of
independent South American nations to reject US leadership and intervention.
drawing the wrath of the Bush administration for his courageous defiance
of their insidious agenda, Chavez remains faithful to his causes. In his
weekly addresses to his constituents called "Hello, Mr.
President", he continues to express his views opposing the American
government quite candidly:
government advisers and planners are] "not only planning
the death of the world, but are executing it. They are killing the
world, our world, and our grandchildren's world.....(in
reference to US imperialistic and environmentally damaging policies)
we have generals, commanders and soldiers who are patriots, and who will
not bend their knees before the US empire; they know that there are
people with a conscience who they will not be able too confuse through
the media they control."
at the example of Iraq; there was a campaign against Saddam Hussein,
accusing him of having chemical weapons, accusing him of being a menace,
by presenting evidence that resulted to be false, to justify the
medicine..." and "That is what is killing the peoples of Latin America
....This is the path of destabilization, of violence, of war between
condemnation of Bush's capitalist free-trade policies).
World Needs Him
as he may be, Hugo Chavez has a spine, and he has stood by his devotion
to economic justice. He has weathered multiple political storms.
Regardless of the lies perpetrated by the Neocons and their lackeys in
the media, Chavez ascended to the presidency, and has maintained office,
through legitimate means. Too little time has passed to judge the
long-term efficacy of his economic or political ideologies, but his
ideals are admirable, and he has done much to enhance the quality of
life for the poor of his nation.
successes notwithstanding, Mr. Chavez has many forces working against
him. His fortunes are inextricably linked to the volatile crude oil
market. He inherited an economy that was in shambles, and robust
economic health is still years away for Venezuela. The wealth gap remains wide despite his programs that have provided
desperately needed assistance to the impoverished. Chavez bears the
universal burden of being human, all too human,
and could fall prey to the corruption that often accompanies power. As a
substantial obstacle to Neocon expansionism in
Latin America, Chavez has a highly visible target painted on his back. He is in the
cross-hairs of a well-armed and experienced hunter. It is a steep grade,
but Chavez has the juice to keep climbing.
and his Neocons have the deck stacked in their favor. However, Hugo
Chavez is no light-weight and will not go down easily. America's Oligarchs need to learn their place in the world community, and
Chavez appears poised to teach them. The real hope for the perpetuation
of human civilization is the success of Chavez, and others like him. We
need leaders who will champion the rights of the poor and the plebeians.
Strauss's disciples offer humanity the misery of perpetual war, poverty
for the masses, tyranny, and desecration of our planet.
and his Neocons long to awaken from their nightmare in Latin America, but fortunately for the plebeians, their real angst has just begun.
Thank you, Mr. Chavez!
Miller is a 38 year old free-lance activist writer with a degree in
liberal arts. He is a husband and a father to three boys. He earns his living
as an account representative for a finance company. His
affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU and the Americans
United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org.