By: Carlos Aznárez / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / July 28, 2016
If we reflect on how much worse the situation in Latin America has become since the death of Hugo Chávez Frías in 2013, it’s hard to believe that it all happened in such a short amount of time. The same neoliberalism that Chávez fought against by taking up arms in the two coup attempts he took part in 1992, has resurged again in our continent and threatens to dismantle each and every one of the achievements towards continental integration that the leader of the Bolivarian revolution made —it seems— only yesterday. Not to mention all the setbacks at the economic, political, union and foreign relations level that are taking place since politicians such as Macri, Temer, Bachelet, Cartes, Tabaré Vázquez and Humala rose to power by using different methods, including the so-called “soft coups”. It’s also true that these involutions served to make visible the weaknesses and, in some cases, the flagrant contradictions of some neo-developmentalist governments, which sparked in some countries an ostensible crisis of values and inspired, among the younger generation, a significant amount of rejection towards politics in general.
In this context, it’s healthy for the memory of the peoples to remember Chávez, that whirlwind of passion and energy, that militant for ethics with the courage of those who want to change it all and fully commit to anything they set themselves to do.
He was determined when it came to taking decisions, especially those who involved the wellbeing of his beloved Venezuela. Passionate and enthusiastic in his defense of the poorest ones, to whom he dedicated each and every day of his government. A promoter of unity to fight together against the Empire, which he strived for not only in the realm of internal policy but at the Latin American and worldwide level.
Cerebral and with his feet on the ground when it came to opening the doors to debate —even with his sworn enemies— and to propose ways to bring closer together completely opposite views.
A wielder of the most powerful weapons to resist the onslaughts of powerful enemies such as Bush or Obama —but his weapons weren’t loaded with bullets but with a sound and lively political consciousness, that grew from the history of struggle of our peoples. He and only he was lucid enough to realize that the time had come to set the continent on its way towards the Second Independence(1), which for long has been denied to our peoples. He rescued from oblivion the memory of our founding fathers and mothers, and our continent’s heros, whom he dusted off and turned into protagonic figures of our present time. Bolívar, San Martín, Sucre, Manuelita Sáenz, O’Higgins, Guacaipuro, Túpac Amaru, Simón Rodríguez, Sandino, Evita Perón and, of course, Che Guevara. With them as comrades, he called us all to reclaim the “Patria Grande” (Great Motherland)(2). He denounced Bush’s plots in the UN and gave him a proverbial kick in the butt back when he and a group of Latin American Presidents demolished the ALCA. Chavez did all of this and more.
He promoted feminism and anti-patriarchy in a highly patriarchal country. He introduced gender ideology in political speeches as no one else had done before at that level of power. With children, the elderly and the oppressed in mind, he created the Missions and turned them into an indispensable tool for his government. Dodging ministerial bureaucracies, he delivered his people the opportunity to learn how to read and write and to receive free healthcare through the Miracle Mission, in cooperation with the always solidary Cuba. He gave the poor people in Venezuela the opportunity to access higher education for the first time in centuries. The Missions became an impressive force and a banner that the masses could get behind: housing for everyone, markets at controlled prices to break the intermediary chains, the Music Mission, the Bank for Women, sports in every neighborhood, Mission Science, the Che Guevara Mission (for socialist training), the Negra Hipólita Mission, or the Mothers of the Neighborhood. There are more missions than there are days in a year, and each of them was instilled with Chávez’ personal impulse, knowledge and sleepless nights to become true.
Chávez was the representative of Venezuela’s working class, after decades of neoliberal governments ignoring their demands for better salaries due to alliances with corporate chambers (the period known as the Fourth Republic). Since day one, Chávez began to create a union central that didn’t have the bureaucratic mechanisms of the old structure, which was intimately linked to the employers’ chamber.
He was like a son to Fidel, and together they created a hurricane that passed through the continent, thanks to their ideas, strength and wisdom, and that peculiar way to do politics without speculations of any kind. This power duo created the ALBA, endowing Latin America and the Caribbean with an efficient tool to exercise solidarity and stand back to back.
Not only that, but he was also able to show the world that one could speak with the US government as equals, without hesitation nor submissiveness —as had happened until afro-indo-american nations recovered their self-esteem and began to walk their own path.
That was their first feat, but then he went for more, and he helped (with invaluable patience) to build the CELAC and the UNASUR, bringing everyone —right and left— together without the US tutelage.
He always spoke to his people with the truth. Sometimes, cursing the yankee tutelage, sometimes dismissing zionist diplomats, genocidal of occupied Palestine. With didactic speeches, he explained his own people that they had to be alert against putschists within and without the country. His warning was well-founded on his own experience: his kidnapping in La Orchila that nearly ended with his life, the massacre of his people in Puente Llaguno, his life being saved by the masses who revolted on the streets, descending to the heart of the city from the poor neighborhoods on the hills, the high treason from oil tycoons and his posterior decision to adopt a radicalized position instead of turning the other cheek to his enemies. He gave precise orders to the militias so that they began to play a necessary role, but he also valued the important role played by the Armed Forces, that under his command aligned with civilians.
Now that he’s gone, his legacy has inspired millions around the world and that his comrade in countless struggles, Nicolás Maduro, leads the country with undisputable courage and loyalty. Chávez undoubtedly fell fighting, in a patriot struggle for victory or death, and now it’s time for us to pick up where he left off. He fought tooth and nail against that cancer that burned his body but wasn’t enough to get him to quit fighting for his beliefs. It’s chilling to remember that afternoon of October 4, 2012, when he stood in the pouring rain and bellowed Long Live the Revolution! in front of a massive crowd. Despite his illness and his pain, Chávez spoke for eternity and proclaimed the victory against oligarchy and the empire. That was his style and his practice. To fight for the revolution until his last breath.
Today, we remember the 62th anniversary of his birth. He gave us an example and reinforced the need to double our solidarity with Bolivarian Venezuela, which is nowadays threatened by the economic war and the climate of impending coup by the opposition and the US interference. Nowadays Chavez is calling us to fight again, together with Maduro and the people that don’t forget nor forgive their class enemies. They must incarnate a new anti-imperialist feat in a continent that is struggling for its future.
- This concept expresses the need for a second liberation of Latin America, after the first national independence wars against colonial fought in the 1800s. This liberation aims to free Latin American countries from the economic, military, political and cultural oppression that still limits them.
- Patria Grande is a political idea that proposes to increase the degree of integration between all Latin American countries to resist balkanization and oppression by outside countries. It’s linked to the idea that unity makes strength to stand against imperialism.