Archives | 2012 January
I don’t understand why you give so much importance to the Brito case: the man killed himself as a result of a *truly petty land dispute* with the government. It could have happened anywhere, in any country. In 2003 (?), the government gave Brito ownership of some farm land, then gave to his neighbors ownership of some neighbouring land; Brito claimed their lands overlapped. INTI looked into it, found no land overlap; then the court looked into it and found no overlap; then the Supreme Court looked into it, and found no overlap. How did Brito respond? *BY SEWING HIS MOUTH SHUT AND CUTTING OFF ONE OF HIS FINGERS [IN FRONT OF LIVE TELEVISION CAMERAS](http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/6652560-hunger-strike-and-finger-cut-franklin-brito-finally-failure-and-death)*. (And you say the government "just cared about the media show"? Well, so did Brito, who gave quite a show!) Inexplicably, Brito continued starving himself EVEN AFTER the Venezuelan government agreed to meet all of his requests; *[there was no reason for his death](http://www.avn.info.ve/node/14775)*! I’m sorry to say there is no question this was an extreme over-reaction, the behavior of someone who was clearly mentally unstable. In retrospect, the government’s decision to hospitalize Brito [for his own protection](http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/5611) seems like a reasonable precaution in light of his subsequent suicide. OK, this isn’t to say he didn’t have a point in protesting the implementation of agrarian reform. The process is slow-going because these sorts of land disputes arise and they aren’t easily resolved. But you’re right, it doesn’t help anything when officials simply decide to start "nationalizing like crazy", "giving property papers to anybody", and "insulting away" modest landowners for no good reason. Agree with you here. I tell you though, you’re pretty reasonable in your outlook and I appreciate that. It’s strange how close you and I can come to agreeing while at the same time remaining on opposite sides of a political divide (I am critical of Chavez but not in a way that I would be confused as a member of the opposition).
It’s not so much the state-run supermarkets that are thought to contribute to the shortages, but the price controls that the Chavez governments has placed on basic food stuffs in an effort to make them cheap and accessible to all. I applaud the good intentions, but–I don’t know shit about economics, but–apparently price controls don’t ever work. I don’t think the government’s at fault for intervening in the economy; in many cases its the response of the companies–which are programmed to seek profits at the expense of everything else–that exacerbate problems; to his credit Chavez does adjust his policies when they are shown not to work, but perhaps not quickly enough…
The opposition hasn’t even picked a candidate yet, but the WP editorial board has already made up its mind!
Does this mean the Washington Post is finally coming around in support of democracy, after it supported the coup attempt against President Chavez, the democratically elected leader of Venezuela, in 2002? Funny timing.
I’m pleased to see that the opposition candidate at least claims to be from the ideological “center-left”. Even if it’s not true that Capriles will govern that way, it means something–about Chavez’s success in shifting the political horizon in his country–that the opposition knows it could not win an election if it promised to take the country in a dramatically different direction from the one set by President Chavez.
I think you’re right to be suspicious of what would happen if the opposition candidate becomes elected. Consider the “bait-and-switch” politics of 1988, when Carlos Andres Perez ran a markedly anti-neoliberal campaign during which he demonized the IMF as a “neutron bomb that killed people but left buildings standing”. however, JUST DAYS after taking office, CAP proceeded to implement IMF plans for neoliberal reform, a turnaround that led to massive popular protests, brutal military repression, 500 to 3000 deaths, and, eventually, to two coup attempts, the end of the Fourth Republic, and start of the Bolivarian revolution.
It could happen all over again!
Hello again, Ven28. We’ve argued in the past. I’ll try to be as friendly as possible.
You claim that the poor and middle classes are “getting fucked the most” by Chavez’s nationalization, and you point to Franklin Brito as an example to support this wild contention. However, it seems to me quite dishonest for you to blame Chavez’s nationalization for Brito’s death. A modest property owner, Brito was the victim of an “act of revenge by a corrupt local mayor”, who, although “pro-chavez”, actually thwarted the efforts of the Chavez government’s land reform and redistribution programs (which seek to alter the power structure between the landed elites and the landless peasant farmer) insofar as he validated land seizures from those farmers who were neither big land-owners nor exploiters. This is as much as I know; thus it would seem that Brito’s death cannot be read as an indictment of Chavez’s nationalization, but rather … of their failed implementation.
I regret that you would exploit Brito’s death to support your implausible contention that the poor and middle classes are harmed by Chavez’s nationalization, when the truth is that these are the very classes being killed whilst striving to implement these reforms. To date, hundreds of Venezuelan peasants have been murdered–by hired gunmen and right-wing paramilitaries–*for attempting to carry out “the Chavez government’s land reform policy*. The crimes strongly implicate wealthy landowners who vehemently opposed land reform” (Al Jazeera).
We know your tricks. We’ve had enough.
If Chavez’s goal is to nationalize everything, then he sure is taking his sweet time! At this pace, he’ll have to beat cancer, and then live as long as Fidel Castro to even come close to reaching his goal! For twelve years now, ever since he was first elected President in 1998, the opposition has been spreading unsubstantiated rumors and fears that Chavez’s supposedly secret agenda is to impose a Cuban-style communist, totalitarian regime in Venezuela.
Chavez has nationalized some important industries in Venezuela, but these nationalizations have taken place in a slower and more strategic manner than in Cuba, where all banks and foreign-owned companies were nationalized almost from the start, immediately after the 1959 revolution. By 1966-68, the Castro government nationalized all remaining privately owned business entities in Cuba, down to the level of street vendors.
By contrast, in Venezuela, after twelve years in power, President Chavez, while ordering the nationalization of a few firms and threatening others, hasn’t really touched the largest banks and monopolies in the country; key sectors of the economy remain in the hands of the same bankers, landlords and capitalists as before.
Statistics: in 2011, the state’s share of the GDP was the same as it had been in 1998, under President Chavez’s predecessor! That’s right, despite a number of state takeovers, the private sector actually ENLARGED, to keep pace with the public sector! This is confirmed by none other than FOX NEWS: “the private sector still controls two-thirds of Venezuela’s economy—the same as when Chavez was elected in 1998, according to Central Bank estimates”.
My point is that ‘nationalization’ and the ‘threat’ of it is NOT A GOAL but rather a means to an end. Chavez employs somewhat similar means as previous revolutionaries, but towards different ends. What ends?
The late Christopher Hitchens once asked Chavez, “What’s the difference between you and Fidel?”: > Chavez answered “Fidel is a communist. I am not. I am a social democrat. Fidel is a Marxist-Leninist. I am not. Fidel is an atheist. I am not. One day we discussed God and Christ. I told Castro, I am a Christian. I believe in the Social Gospels of Christ. He doesn’t. Just doesn’t. More than once, Castro told me that Venezuela is not Cuba, and we are not in the 1960s. […] Venezuela must have democratic socialism.”
Opps, I also wanted to comment on how inspiring it is to see Chavez and his democratic majorities in the National Assembly successfully wield the rule of law as a weapon against powerful elite interests. I’m too exhausted to elaborate right now, but I just want to ask you for examples of the “many things” that Chavez has supposedly declared to be crimes, which you think it is “impossible for men to live” without… I think that if you gave examples of these laws, it will be clear to readers that it IS possible to live without breaking them.
That’s generally good advice. But you should know when Chavez threatens to nationalize banks that refuse to provide loans/resources to small farmers, he is not so much ‘signalizing’ an imminent takeover as he is ‘strong-arming’ the banks into contributing more to the development of the country. However, although they do not represent ‘warnings’ of government plans that have already been decided but not yet implemented, these threats of nationalization should not be dismissed as mere ‘threats’ either. In the 12 years of his presidency, Chavez clearly hasn’t been afraid to nationalize companies that tried to call his ‘bluff’; as a result, many companies that remain in the country have pledged to work for Venezuelan society’s progress. It would be fun to compile a list of companies that Chavez has successfully bullied. Let’s see, off the top of my head.. There’s Banco Provincial, Parmalat, both of which have publicly "answered the President’s call"… Lots more. Of course, the results of these intimidation tactics have been quite unpredictable. But so far, I’m relieved to see Venezuela pursue an original ‘middle’ path between state nationalization and capitalist free markets.
Hey, those are my favorite Eugene Debs quotes. Find that they pinpoint the injustice of capitalism very accurately. I just cited them today in another DebateACommunist thread. Anyway, good discussion here!
as for the rest of what you wrote, beginning with "capital is labour" it’s so idiotic i can’t bring myself to respond. you’re obviously not even trying to critically examine the world around you, so none of my answers will make sense to you anyway because you lack even an elementary education in these matters ("exploited by the masses"? go fuck yourself if you seriously think this). you’ve already made a choice for others by accepting the status quo. and the fact that you’re treating communism as if it were a startup enterprise, that must compete for superiority over capitalism like a fucking product on the market, tells me that you are unable to think outside your ideologically-shaped world. good luck making millions for your employer and never becoming wealthy yourself.
i’m probably not the best person to answer these last questions. i’ll try to answer according to my own beliefs, but i can’t claim to be accurately representing a true ‘communist’ perspective, unfortunately. > If i choose to work for a wage, instead of a share of the communal production, will you stop me? this is a ridiculous question. after the american civil war, when former slaves became free men and women, for the first time in their lives, they were no longer guaranteed food to eat, roofs over their head, etc. would you have stopped free men and women from returning to slave life on a southern plantation? you wouldn’t need to, right? because the abolition of slavery–meant no one could own human beings as private property, so there were no longer ‘slave-owners’ to whom free black men and women could sell themselves into slavery. well, i wouldn’t need to stop you from selling your labor-power, because the end to private property (individual ownership over the means of production) implies that there would be no capitalist class to whom you could sell your labor. > Communism is NOT voluntary because comrades MUST provide their labour power to the commune in order to live. as for whether you would be ‘forced’ to work in factories under communism, the answer is no, you wouldn’t. have you seen [marx's description of what life should be like under communism](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism#Marxism)? >"In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic." follow that link above. obviously real-life efforts to implement communism were really failures insofar as they fell short of marx’s vision, and, unfortunately, they seem to have given you the wrong idea of what communism is all about.
I’m not sure if I agree with the response others have given you here. Even communists can disagree! If you work harder and longer, of course you are entitled to more! The problem is that capitalism does not fairly reward people for their work! The world is already unfairly divided between owners of the means of production (who profit from the work of others) and those who were born with nothing and who must work for a living. One of my favorite quotes comes from Eugene Debs, American union leader and four-time candidate for U.S. President (who received over a million votes, the most ever by a socialist in this country, in 1912 and 1920): >"I am opposing a social order [capitalism] in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence." You misunderstand communism (it’s not your fault, it probably hasn’t been adequately explained). It’s not about telling you ‘how to live your live’ or ‘what you should value’! It’s not at all about a ‘preferred way of life’! First it helps to understand what capitalism is. How it structures what you already accept as ‘the way things are’. Imagine if I were to say "I have no problem with capitalism, as long as it is voluntary". Do you understand why this statement is ridiculous? You may think that capitalism **IS** voluntary because, at least in theory, workers (wage earners) are free to quit or refuse a particular job if they aren’t happy with it. But in fact, capitalism is NOT voluntary because wage earners MUST sell their labor power to someone in the capitalist class in order to live. Why? Because we’ve all been born into a world that is already structured by capitalism; this capitalist world–in which the means of production are privately owned–has been imposed upon us, without our consent. Those born possessing nothing but their own labor-power have NO CHOICE but to sell it to the capitalist classes. (Now, there was once a time in this country, when it was possible to save enough money as a wage earner, that one could work hard and become a member of the capitalist class as a reward. But these days are long gone.) So if capitalism were truly voluntary, you would have the freedom not only to choose where you were employed; you would have the freedom NOT to be forced to work as a wage slave merely to survive or make ends meet. If you start to look at the world this way, you can see that communism is NOT another system forced upon you, but as a form of LIBERATION from the forced inequality and wage slavery currently forced on the entire world!
You would not go to prison for having, what, $50 USD?
While I share your concern about Americans supporting ‘regime change’ in Venezuela, it does a disservice to President Chavez’s democratic achievements when you suggest a comparison between Venezuela and Libya. Whereas Chavez is first and foremost a champion of his country’s poor and exploited working classes, who, along with enlightened elements from the middle and upper classes, have voted for him in election after election, Col. Gaddafi seized power in a military coup and held Libya by means of a system of tribal and clan alliances. What this suggests is that, despite the few commonalities between the two leaders (who shared military backgrounds, left-wing economic ideas, antagonistic relations with the U.S. and membership of both their countries in OPEC), Chavez and Gaddafi differ dramatically not only in their policies as leaders, but in the very character of such leadership. I don’t mean to say that Western intervention in Libya was legitimate, merely that intervention in Venezuela would be far more outrageous (and that there would be absolutely no legitimate grounds for defending such action).
Don’t you think it’s odd that a ‘nationalist’ country is so strongly pushing for Latin American integration? Simon Bolivar sought to unite the continent against the colonial aggressors. Hm, wasn’t the U.S. founded the same way?
You’re obviously part of the conspiracy! lol
She looks like a nice girl. If this picture "provokes indignation" on the part of Chavez opponents, it really makes you wonder about them (I’m sure they enjoy posing with money too). Leave ~~Britney~~ Rosinés Chávez alone!
Chavez opponents will take any opportunity to spout their deception. The photo, of course, proves nothing.
That’s your right. BTW, I did a google search of my own and found this excellent post.
the idea that Che was some sort of homicidal maniac who killed people on a whim is rather amusing because it ignores conditions in Cuba at the time of the revolution.
Fulgencio Batista not only had the support of the US, but he had been repressing the country for years. It is widely believed that Batista and his men killed 20,000 Cubans during his final reign. Yet this is never quoted anywhere. Meanwhile Che’s list of verified executions is around 200. Even if in the end he had a hand in the death of a possible 1,000 people, it’s still 1/20th of what Batista did during his reign on Cuba.
Look, it’s a sad fact of life that [Revolutions] cause a lot of casualties. When you are replacing one regime with another there are going to be some broken eggs. Is Che a saint? No, but who is? Morals are an interesting shade of grey, especially when it comes to overthrowing a dictator who is willing to kill so many of his own people. I’m sure George Washington had people executed during the revolutionary war. For that matter there were many men who were executed for leaving both armies during the American Civil War.
In a vacuum, yes, Che’s crimes are reprehensible. But the reality is that this isn’t a vacuum. If Che had been a renowned liberal democrat, trying to spread democracy in the Carribean, would this be brought up? Most likely not. Most Americans for that matter don’t even realize how many brutal dictators the United States supported in Latin America and South America who would kill their own citizens by the thousands.
Castro has taken decisive action to defend his country from those traitors bought by the CIA who’ve aided the US in its effort to reassert control over the island and return it to colonial rule. Were some people imprisoned for advocating the overthrow of the government? You betcha! But try doing that in the United States, and see where that’ll get you. A cell in Guantanamo probably! There is no truth to the charge that Castro has committed "mass murders of his political rivals". This is complete fantasy: did it come from some right-wing source or did you pull it out your ass?
Thanks for sharing your perspective, your analogy is really helpful! But it leads me to ask, is the hatred you describe truly ‘personal’ in the sense that it is directed towards Castro alone so that, after he dies, your father may feel comfortable returning to the country, even if Cuba remains committed to socialism in some form or another? Or do you think that the hatred is wider in the sense that it extends to the whole country and its population (as expressed in the sentiment "let the whole place rot ’til they give up") such that only an armed uprising and/or invasion like the Bay of Pigs (that buries its socialist past) could redeem the country in the eyes of these Cuban exiles?
I’m reminded of something I came across [reading Slavoj Zizek](http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ot/zizek.htm). > with regard to freedom, Lenin is best remembered for his famous retort “Freedom yes, but for WHOM? To do WHAT?” — for him, in the case of the Mensheviks…, their “freedom” to criticize the Bolshevik government effectively amounted to “freedom” to undermine the workers’ and peasants’ government on behalf of the counter-revolution In Libya, Gadaffi reasoned that he had to rule the country with an iron fist to secure an order in which to implement good social and economic policies; it’s easy to say these policies "should have been carried out democratically", but who’s to say that it would have been possible to do that in the real world? (In an ideal world it might be possible to have **BOTH** (1) GOOD POLICIES **AND** (2) DEMOCRATIC PROCEDURES. But we aren’t living in an ideal world. What if the only choice was between (A) *good policies without democracy* or (B) neither good policies nor democracy?) It’s far more likely that the actual choice in Libya was between Gaddafi’s rule, which came with numerous benefits to the population as pointed out above, and far worse forms of rule along the lines found in neighboring countries. I’m not disputing the brutalities of life under Gaddafi, and I’m not saying that Libyans should not have aspired to create a better government, but Gaddafi was nearing retirement and his son Saif al-Islam openly discussed reform. It seems to me that there already existed a far more stable path to democracy than the one founded upon a bloody Western intervention that is, unfortunately, more likely to lead to ongoing civil war and bloodshed.
Sorry, but the reason this stuck with you is probably because it conforms to your conservative narrative about the trouble with government ‘handouts’. Trust me, Libyans did not rise up in protest against government handouts!
Well, speaking for myself, I do agree with Castro’s Obama criticism. In many ways Obama has not lived up to his expectations as “the most progressive candidate to the U.S. presidency” (in Castro’s words). That said, it’s not like Castro hasn’t been fair to Obama. In 2008, while remaining neutral in the election, Castro praised Obama’s “great intelligence, his debating skills and work ethic”. Elsewhere he wrote that Obama was “without doubt more intelligent, cultured and calm than his Republican adversary [McCain].” Castro’s views seems quite fair. > “I feel no resentment towards him (Obama), for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor. I have therefore no reservations about criticizing him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.”
Who’s suggesting that we do that?
Who the hell is giving Castro a ‘pass’? The most that anyone is arguing is that Castro has done *some* redeeming stuff and, as the leader of the Cuba revolution, he remains a heroic figure to many around the world. There is no question that his revolution involved bloodshed. But given the real threat of invasion and armed attack (not to mention assassination) by the world’s largest superpower, which happened to live right next door, it was not easy for Castro to secure the defense of his revolution, and much of his actions were justified. I don’t believe there have been "untold numbers" of suffering, or "actual crimes against humanity" in Cuba, but I’m certain that whatever misery that has existed under Castro would have been far worse had the U.S. succeeded in reasserting control over the country and put it back in the hands of Batista and the mafia. As for the persecution of homosexuals, [Castro has taken responsibility and expressed his remorse](http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11147157). Given that it is unheard of for leaders in the U.S. to take responsibility, this alone makes Castro stand out as a leader.
You try securing a revolution without locking up or shooting its enemies. Was Castro’s regime just supposed to allow the U.S. to reassert control and put the country back in the hands of the Batista regime and the mafia?
I realize you’re saying you don’t usually agree with Fidel Castro. And that’s your right. But, to be fair, it’s not like Castro is ordinarily such an unreasonable fellow. Quite the opposite, in my view. If you listen to him, he does come across as reasonable, which is why, throughout the world and in Cuba, opinions of him are more complicated. UPDATE: For example, [in a 2010 interview, Jeffrey Goldberg](http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/09/fidel-cuban-model-doesnt-even-work-for-us-anymore/62602/) comments on "Fidel Castro’s level of self-reflection." He remarks how "truly striking" it is that Castro is willing to admit to making serious mistakes in the past, and even to concede that the old Soviet model of centralized planning is no longer sustainable for the Cuban economy. This reasonableness is one of the reasons why the Cuban government today is flexible enough to pursue "the creation of a co-operative variant of socialism where the state plays a less active role in the economy," and where "the formation of worker-owned co-operatives and self-employed enterprises is being encouraged" ([Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Cuba#Post-Fidel_reforms)).
This is Oliver Stone’s film, South of the Border. He’s not doing anything more than allowing South America’s current leaders to express their attitudes towards the U.S. for its long history of interference in the region. This is a perspective that is so widespread in Latin American countries, but is rarely expressed anywhere in the mainstream media in the U.S. It’s quite sad that these attitudes are seen as so radical from our point of view. I don’t think it was necessary for Stone to ‘balance’ out the documentary by presenting ‘the other side’ here, because the ‘other side’ is 99% of what you hear in mainstream media. The ‘other side’ dominates print, online news and political commentary. I think it is important enough to present THEIR perspective for a change!
Is he giving advice or expressing an opinion? If you agree with Oliver Stone that Ron Paul is one of the only people who’s saying anything intelligent about the future of the world, then maybe Stone’s political judgment isn’t so bad after all. Given the similarity between the views of Ron Paul and Hugo Chavez toward the imperial realities of U.S. foreign policy, I’d expect someone partial to the former would be more open-minded toward the latter. Moreover, it doesn’t seem very sensible to dismiss someone like Stone as "glorifying" a foreign leader, just because he does not support the U.S. government propaganda that demonizes Chavez as one of America’s greatest enemies!
The wealthy are in for quite a surprise if they expect to be able to return Venezuela to the country it was before the Bolivarian revolution led by President Chavez. Because Chavez did not just emerge out of nothing; after 40 years of ‘democracy’ under the control of corrupt party elites, Venezuelans were right to demand a more participatory role in governing their country.
What’s so inspiring about the documentary “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” (watch here) is that it features the people in their role as the ‘defenders of liberty’ in the newly founded Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In the 2002 coup attempt, after President Chavez had been taken prisoner, it was the poor from the peripheral barrios who returned Chavez to power, by turning out by the hundreds of thousands in a massive popular uprising.
It would appear, from pledges like the one mentioned above, that Chavez deserves some credit for averting a nearly inevitable civil war by successfully institutionalizing class tension in the new Republic–such that this tension can find outlet or expression in the ordinary politics under the new Constitution. If the opposition elites regain power, and attempt to undo the last decade of changes, they would be foolish to think Venezuelans would go along with it.
yeah, businessweek wants its readers to be so skeptical of Hugo Chavez that we should not even accept his own self-description of himself, even though there’s no reason to doubt him (and even if there were, the question of whether he’s a ‘true’ socialist is *not at all* the subject of the article–it’s basically irrelevant)! glenn greenward [wrote an article earlier this month](http://www.salon.com/2012/01/13/arthur_brisbane_and_selective_stenography/singleton/) about how widespread this form of propaganda is. he observes how statements by individuals who stand outside or opposed to America’s political establishment "are subjected to extreme levels of skepticism in those rare instances when they’re heard at all." meanwhile, one never, ever sees "this level of overt skepticism from [any] establishment media outlet when it comes to claims from the U.S. Government", which are nearly always treated by journalists as presumptively true.
i hope that redditors who oppose chavez recognize the meaning of this pledge: the opposition candidates are conceding that they would have no chance of defeating president chavez in the upcoming election if they were to run on a platform that promised to take the country in an opposite direction from the one set by chavez. what this means is that the bolivarian revolution has finally stabilized to the point that the opposition appears to have accepted the new political reality and will not seek to overturn it, even if chavez were to be defeated.
this is good news for the country.
nonetheless, venezuelans have a right to be skeptical of opposition candidates, given that they’ve been victims of “bait-and-switch” politics before. in 1988, Carlos Andres Perez ran a markedly anti-neoliberal campaign during which he had demonized the IMF as a “neutron bomb that killed people but left buildings standing”. however, JUST DAYS after taking office, CAP proceeded to implement IMF plans for neoliberal reform, a turnaround that led to massive popular protests, brutal military repression, 500 to 3000 deaths, and, eventually, to two coup attempts, the end of the Fourth Republic, and start of the Bolivarian revolution.
submitted by reddit to blog.
If it’s true this decision had nothing to do with "giving up on free speech", then the same can be said about Venezuela’s 2007 decision not to relicense RCTV. Whereas Britain "REVOKED" Press TV’s license and demanded that it "LEAVE BRITISH AIRWAVES IMMEDIATELY", Venezuela had only DECLINED TO RENEW RCTV’s license when it expired, five years after RCTV gave support to the unconstitutional 2002 coup attempt against the country’s democratically elected government, in a clear violation of Venezuela’s media laws (which make inciting political violence and the overthrow of government illegal). And yet the international news media interpreted Venezuela as violating free speech, and it is now applying a double standard in the case of the UK shutting down Press TV.
I regret that "[OJSlaughter](http://www.reddit.com/user/ojslaughter)" chose to deleted his comment rather than to respond to our replies, either by defending his original position or conceding that he was wrong, because it denies to us the opportunity and well-earned right to correct a popular, if misinformed, view (expressed in mainstream news media and most political commentary in the U.S. and U.K.) that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is governed under the arbitrary rule of a dictator, rather than in accordance with the democratically accountable rule of law. Luckily I saved "OJSlaughter"’s comment and have reproduced it [here](http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/opt69/uk_revokes_irans_press_tv_license_wsjcom/c3j6xp5).
I bet you actually believe that. Let me explain why *your* reasoning is flawed. Britain’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) is citing some technicality (which is not at all clarified in any of the major news articles I’ve read) in the "Communications Act"; it is a technicality because the true reasons for shutting down Press TV were political. The true reasons would not legitimate an argument for revoking Press TV’s license. Compare this decision to the one made by Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) when it chose not to renew RCTV’s broadcast license. Rather than citing a technicality to mask its true but hidden motives, CONATEL cited clear violations of the country’s media law, the "Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television", which makes inciting violence and the overthrow of government illegal. In light of RCTV’s support for an unconstitutional 2002 coup attempt against President Chávez’s democratically elected government, the argument for not relicensing RCTV is made on the basis of legal reasoning (and without deception on the part of the government). Since you mention the issue of timing, I’d like to point out that whereas Venezuela only **FAILED TO RENEW** RCTV’s broadcasting license when it came up for renewal, the UK **"REVOKED"** the broadcasting license of Press TV "and demanded [that] the Tehran-based English-language news channel **LEAVE THE BRITISH AIRWAVES IMMEDIATELY**" ([wsj](http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204616504577172763781772708.html)). So based on the timing alone, which decision seems more politically motivated? **UPDATE**: "[OJSlaughter](http://www.reddit.com/user/ojslaughter)" deleted the following comment: >Replace ‘Found Technicality’ with ‘Legal Reason’ >I love how that if the rule of Law goes against your own opinions, you deny it. They broke the law, the timing just came out like this. >Chavez gave no legitimate reasons to remove RCTV. You reasoning is flawed. I regret that "[OJSlaughter](http://www.reddit.com/user/ojslaughter)" chose to deleted his comment rather than to respond to our replies, either by defending his original position or conceding that he was wrong, because it denies to us the opportunity to correct a popular, if misinformed, view (expressed in mainstream news media and most political commentary in the U.S. and U.K.) that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is governed under the arbitrary rule of a dictator, rather than in accordance with the democratically accountable rule of law.
Perhaps. If so, then (the conventional view expressed in mainstream news media and political commentaries in the U.S. and U.K. is false, and) Chavez’s decision not to relicense RCTV apparently *had nothing to do with ‘freedom of speech’ either*, because there are guidelines to broadcast (as you said, there are in all countries; see Venezuela’s [Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television](http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/5101)) and RCTV broke them. RCTV *clearly* broke the law (against inciting government overthrow) in 2002 when it supported the unconstitutional coup against Venezuela’s democratically elected President. The legal reasoning is less clear in the U.K., where the specific broadcasting guidelines that Press TV has allegedly committed are apparently so obscure or convoluted that they cannot even be explained summarily in a major news article (I have not found one that even attempts to do so)! So your reasoning actually appears to confirm rather than refute Trendzetter’s implied point that the conventional view of Hugo Chavez as a dictator who governs through arbitrary rule (and not as a democratically elected President who governs through the rule of law) is false.
It isn’t contemporary and it may not appeal to younger ears, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to recommend listening to, well, really anything sung by "Ernst Busch", composed by "Hanns Eisler", or written by "Bertolt Brecht". Together they produced a tremendous amount of "leftist music" that’s really powerful and terrific. Below are some of my favorites. I tried to find videos that show the lyrics in English, but if they’re not there, I highly recommend looking them up, especially if you’re listening to anything (like the songs #1 and #3 below) written by Brecht, who was also a great poet and had a way with words (so try to find decent translations). * [Das Solidaritätslied](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPWyg2zSs0U)/"Solidarity Song" * [Der heimliche Aufmarsch](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPKH4GHiihg)/"Secret Deployment" * [Das Einheitsfrontlied](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Tz5daRrGDw)/"United Front Song" * [Auferstanden aus Ruinen](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTV92wqYjfA)/"Risen from Ruins" — the national anthem of East Germany * [Seeräuberjenny](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec0clERjQ5A)/"Pirate Jenny" — from Brecht’s "Threepenny Opera" Also, again, another different taste, but "Paul Robeson" is worth checking out too. Though personally I like his story better than his music: Robeson was an African-American singer, ‘Communist-affiliated’ activist, whose father had been a slave who escaped and won his freedom by traveling the Underground Railroad, who fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade/International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, and then toured the Soviet Union, before returning home to the U.S., where he was forced to testify before the House Comittee on Un-American Activities.
Um, it would appear that you are merely explaining the perspectives of the two opposing ‘sides’ of the political divide in Venezuela, but I think your explanation is highly biased against Chavez and in favor of the opposition. First, you explain that the "hardcore opposition" claim Chavez cheats every election with the supposed fact that he "also" [??] "controls all powers of state". This is false. (The word "ALSO" suggests that what you’re saying is that Chavez cheats every election AND ALSO controls "all powers of state". Both claims are false). The "powers of state" are spelled out in the [1999 Constitution](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Venezuelan_Constitution) of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuele; these powers are actually **separated among [five different branches of government](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Venezuelan_Constitution#Five_branches_in_the_Venezuelan_government)**. While, in some ways, the Venezuela Constitution may appear to give the President more power than the U.S. Constitution does (by having longer terms, for example), I think that an argument could easily be made that, relatively speaking, in reality, the U.S. President has much more control over the "powers of state", than the Venezuelan President does. Also, at no point do you mention the extremely relevant fact that Venezuela welcomes [international observers (Carter Center, European Union, Mercosur, and the Organization of American States)](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuelan_presidential_election,_2006#International_observers) to monitor its elections and none have found any evidence of cheating on Chavez’s part. Venezuela’s elections are free, fair, and democratic. Second, while you admit that Chavez has "a lot" of supporters, you do not accurately convey the magnitude of his support, as registered by past election turnouts and public opinion polls. The truth is that Chavez does not have "a lot" of supporters; he has and continues to have the support of MOST Venezuelans (a clear majority according to election and poll numbers, [like this one](http://www.cadenagramonte.cu/english/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5043&Itemid=14)). The opposition has *significantly* fewer supporters. It is actually extremely insulting for you to say that Chavez’s support is the "result" of a (A) "low level of education" and (B) "a lot of money [being] thrown at them". The implication is that Chavez supporters are ignorant buffoons, and that well-educated and intelligent people do not support Chavez for re-election. The suggestion that Chavez has so many supporters because he throws "a lot of money" at them is surely the most misleading thing you say here, because it distorts the fact that Chavez’s supporters are among the poorest Venezuelan citizens, and that they have every right to thank Chavez for reducing poverty levels. Moreover, your suggestion also distorts the fact that the "hardcore opposition" you mention consists primarily of those who have a financial interest in restoring the previous political order and its oligarchic elites to power. You say nothing about the money fueling the political opposition, and fail to mention that **[more than $50 million dollars of this money](http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_57843.shtml) has been funneled to opposition groups by the United States government**!
I actually think it’s good to hear from Chavez’s supporters when they disagree with something that he has said or done. It does make me nervous that criticism of the government could be used as political ammunition by the Venezuelan opposition, dominated by those who have no interest in genuinely furthering feminist issues, but the benefit that comes from intra-movement dialogue might be worth this risk. It should be noted that this isn’t the first time that *Venezuelanalysis*, which many critics of Chavez have falsely claimed is a "pro-government website", actually a great source for Venezuelan news and analysis, has published articles critical of the Chavez government, albeit usually from an intra-movement perspective. This kind of constructive criticism is certainly welcome and necessary, as far as I’m concerned; and I look forward to reading more articles like the one published here.
I am already aware of the problems in present day Venezuela. And I even agree with you that the problem of inflation and food scarcity, while not entirely the fault of the Chavez government (but also of hoarding and speculation on the part of some capitalists), has been exacerbated by the foolish decision to institute price controls on basic food items (regardless of the good intentions of this government–in contrast to those under the Punto Fijo regime). Also, you’re correct that this is one way in which Venezuela has, in fact, imitated Cuban model. You mention the other similarities too, but the similarities are just that: In Cuba the revolution nationalized the banks and other keys sectors of the economy almost from the start, and then in 1966-68, all remaining private businesses, down to the street vendors. By contrast, in Venezuela, after twelve years in power, President Chavez, while ordering the nationalization of a few firms and threatening others, hasn’t really touched the largest banks and monopolies in the country. You and I both know that key points of the economy remain in the hands of the same old bankers, landlords and capitalists as before.
But I’ve allowed you to distract me from my main point, which is that the Bolivarian revolution is unfolding according to its own, unique path. It is not yet known where it will lead; this will be decided by the political struggles of today.
I may be wrong, but based on five minutes of google research, it looks like [the so-called "misery index"](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misery_index_(economics) was created as an economic indicator in the **U.S.-context**. According to Wikipedia, it seems that only in [recent work](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misery_index_\(economics\)#Recent_work) has the ‘misery index’ been "employed [...] to analyze contemporary economic conditions in a number of countries **outside** the United States". I’d expect that if one were to design a ‘misery index’ from scratch with the **world context** in mind, one would want to consider more than just **unemployment and inflation rates** as factors! I think it’d be fair to say the existing ‘misery index’ measures "misery" in other countries from the perspective of U.S. economists when considering whether they’d want to live there.
I strongly disagree with your assumption that Venezuela is "headed for" Communism. Or that "Socialism of the XXI Century" is merely rebranded ‘Communism’. Despite its close ties with Cuba, Venezuela has been pursuing its own path in the name of the so-called ‘Bolivarian Revolution’. It is not adopting anything resembling the Cuban-model, but is constructing its own model. In fact, it appears Cuba has been more influenced by Venezuela, than vice versa. My point is that the project goes well beyond mere ‘rebranding’. In Venezuela, Chavez did not become popular because he ‘rebranded’ Communism, but because he drew on historical traditions and popular sentiments unique to Latin America and his country, dared to conceive an alternative vision of the future, and set out to realize it. Even if you oppose Chavez, one can learn from his experience reinvigorating the political left. If you want Capitalism to "appeal more and be in tune with younger people", you needn’t ‘rebrand’ Capitalism; you must dare to reinvent it.
Chavez IS an important political figure, who is carrying out grand changes in his country. I’m a Chavez supporter but even his opponents or anyone with a sense of Venezuelan history concede this. They may believe these grand changes are detrimental, but they are no mere delusions.
I have been studying Venezuela for years as a PhD graduate student, and have to say that, at the very least, Chavez is probably the most exciting political figure to emerge in Latin America in a long time. While I do not agree with everything he has done since taking office in 1999, I might as well come forward now and register myself as a true "Chavez supporter". I’m really too tired to argue with anyone about this tonight though (but almost all of my past comments are on Venezuela… read them!)… I just think it is unfortunate that most of the opinions expressed here have been negative, and wanted at least someone who feels otherwise to say so.
I’m sorry to see the downvotes for this comment currently outweighing the upvotes. It’s not as though you aren’t raising a good question about selection bias, one that’s actually very plausible from a social science point of view. It is fairly straightforward that a Venezuelan who’s moved out of the country and is able to afford return visits is someone with a highly selective experience as compared to, say, someone who’s lived in the slums of Venezuela for most of their lives, who’ve personally suffered under the corrupt oligarchies of the past, and benefitted from the changes introduced by the Chavez government, according to the most objective souces available. See [this graph here](http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=poverty+in+venezuela), for starters. The latter’s experience is more representative of a majority of Venezuelans, who have almost consistently voted for Chavez and for pro-Chavez candidates in election after election for twelve years! I certainly feel for those whose lives are personally affected by the changes on the ground in Venezuela, and while elated by the decline in poverty levels, am equally devastated by the rates in crime rates, which have taken off. However, the escalation of violent crime (and economic inflation, by the way) is something that began years before Chavez ever took office there is absolutely no reason to hold him personally responsible for these changes. In fact, one could actually hold the political opposition responsible for some of the worsening conditions, as they typically resorted to extra-legal options, including coup d’etats, general strikes, while boycotting elections (in their efforts to impede the progress of the Bolivarian revolution and re-assert the control of government by elites)! We’ll see in the upcoming presidential election who the people hold responsible for their advacements and setbacks!
i’m not ‘on your side’ in this debate, but i am open-minded when listening to chavez’s critics, so i just want to say that it is unfortunate that, rather than reference data showing that the reality is not like the government reports, the best you can do is assert that those reports must be false. it’s unfortunate because simply asserting that the government has been lying, without being able to put forward an alternative set of facts, isn’t sufficient to convince anyone you are right. even though i am a chavez supporter, i do expect chavez’s critics to inform me when chavez may be crossing the line of acceptable governance. but you are doing a terrible job mounting evidence to support what you claim is true. for example you say you have not been able to buy powdered milk for 3 weeks. i feel for you. but why is it the fault of chavez’s government when its actual policies have tried to make these products more cheap and available to all venezuelans, and when it is in the interest of private companies to hoard these products, and when these companies have admitted as much and in some cases have even apologized? the government has taken active measures to [fight hoarding and speculation in powdered milk](http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/6673). learn who is really at fault for these things in your country! >Parmalat issued a public apology on 29 November, saying, “On this occasion we offer our most sincere apologies for not having achieved our objective as a company and adequately communicating what happened in the specific case of the quota of commissioned milk…we don’t want to distort the efforts of your honourable government …towards the national supply of foods and the protection of consumers…”.
you are a textbook example of someone who thinks they’re better than someone else, but doesn’t show it. if you have a problem with the UN’s or google’s data, or with someone’s citing that data as evidence in an argument, point to other data that would show a clearer picture, in your view. simply mocking that person as a "freshman sociology student at a shitty state school" without explaining his mistakes to those of us who are not sociologists, and may not have been fortunate enough to attend the Ivy League, is not only not helpful, but makes YOU come across as the douche. by the way, i’m not sure that listing 3 enormous regions and saying "land reform" there "caused a lot of mess" makes you more of an expert than someone who’s discussing GINI coefficients and other statistics from UN sources.