Venezuela: The Next Chile?
Venezuela: The Next Chile?
He has won two elections, and he has made a start on relieving poverty. So now the
Almost 30 years after the violent destruction of the reformist government of Salvador Allende in
Following the principles of a movement called BolIvarism, named after the South American independence hero Simon BolIvar, Chavez has implemented reforms that have begun to shift the great wealth of
guaranteed indigenous and women's rights and free healthcare and education up to university level.
Chavez faces enemies that Allende would recognise. The "oligarchies", which held power since the 1950s during the corrupt bipartisan reign of the Social Christians and Democratic Action, have declared war on the reforming president, backed by the Catholic Church and a trade union hierarchy and the media, both controlled by the right. What has enraged them is a modest agrarian reform that allows the state to expropriate and redistribute idle land; and a law that limits the exploitation of oil reserves, reinforcing a constitutional ban on the privatisation of the state oil company.
Allied with Chavez's domestic enemies is the Bush administration. Defying
For this, he is unforgiven. On 5-7 November, the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Agency held a two-day meeting to discuss "the problem of
International Monetary Fund has indicated it supports a "transitional government" for
fabricating a familiar crisis. The tactics used are very similar to those used in
A former paratrooper, Chavez apparently still has the army behind him (as Allende did, until the CIA murdered his loyal military chief, opening the way to Pinochet). However, several senior officers have denounced Chavez as a "tyrant" and have called for his resignation. It is difficult to assess this; in its rumour-mongering, the hostile
The most worrying threat comes from a reactionary trade union hierarchy, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), led by Carlos Ortega, a hack of the anti-Chavez Democratic Action Party. The CTV maintains a black list of "disloyal" and "disruptive" members, which it supplies to employers. According to Dick Nichols, writing from
The crime of Hugo Chavez is that he has set out to keep his electoral promises, redistributing the wealth of his country and subordinating the principle of private property to that of the common good. Having underestimated the power of his enemies, his current counter-offensive is imaginative but also hints of desperation.
He has set up what are called "BolIvarian circles", of which 8,000 are being established in communities and workplaces across the country. Based on the revolutionary heritage of Simon BolIvar's triumph in the war against
These are fighting words that echo through the continent's history of epic struggles. They say that yet another South American country, in offering its people an alternative to poverty and foreign domination, the "threat of a good example", is entering a period of great uncertainty and fear. The achievements in