Archives | 2012 February
Google recently demoted its link to Google Scholar from its menu structure. Someone has written a bookmarklet that will quickly transfer Google search queries to Google Scholar, in just one click, which is how it used to work. You can find the link to bookmarklet here.
Let me just come right out and say it: there are a lot of possible scenarios being discussed. Here’s mine: if President Chavez’s health problems become so severe that he does not run for re-election, given the option of choosing a possible successor from among his inner circle, none of whom possess the charisma or influence necessary to defeat the opposition candidate, perhaps Chavez should consider actually endorsing Capriles. In all honesty, such a move could shift the base of Capriles’ support down a socio-economic level or two, so that Capriles would not need to depend on elite support to compete against the government candidate.
(As in any democratic election where a challenger faces an incumbent who has the benefit of using his resources to his advantage, Capriles will need ‘elite support’ to facilitate his rise to power. Even Chavez had to secure ‘elite support’ from upper- and middle-class voters to secure his victory in the 1998 and subsequent elections. I am not saying that ‘Capriles represents elite interests’, or that ‘Capriles is not a center-left candidate as he is actually claiming’; I’m merely concerned that, if he is to take power, Capriles does so in a manner that is not unnecessarily beholden to elites who could later interfere with his center-left agenda.).
If he goes along with this, Capriles would have the potential to bridge the division between Chavez supporters and opponents, and maybe even steer Venezuela in a positive direction (I say this as a Chavez supporter!).
I didn’t even read it. ;P
The whole issue of Chavez’s cancer gives us all an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which his power and influence (authority) as a political leader (and revolutionary) has been related to his personal image of strength. This obviously has a tradition in Latin American politics. Curiously, the Cuban Revolution does not seem to be weakened by the image of Fidel Castro as an old man–’Grandpa’ figure but I suppose, in Cuba, there was more time for his image to evolve. I can only assume, though, that Castro’s image must have undergone some transformation since 1959, when Castro and Che led a band of guerrillas in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. His military fatigues, his beard, and cigars… can all be read as symbols of power, though my own sense is that Castro’s image was always more refined than Chavez’s has been in the media.
Chavez is an embarrassment to the Bolivarian Revolution.
I do not share the view that you are expressing here, but I nonetheless want to recognize that you raise an interesting question about the relationship between Hugo Chavez and the larger social movement and political process that he has been leading.
The two deserve to be distinguished. On that, you and I would find agreement.
In my view, too many people on both sides of the debate forget that ‘Hugo Chavez’ is bigger than just one man, that Chavez himself is just the temporary leader and spokesman for a popular movement that will likely survive his life as a political figure.
Something great is being sullied by his actions.
I do not feel it is useful–for the continued advancement of the Bolivarian Revolution–to conceive the movement in this way, as “something great [that] is being sullied by [Chavez’s] actions”.
The Bolivarian Revolution owes a debt of gratitude to Chavez for his practical and effective actions that enabled him to take ahold of existing conditions to realize the potential for radical change, and to oversee the demolition of a corrupt political order and the emergence of a new one.
Let us not forget that it is in the nature of revolutions to lose their ‘purity’, for their practical and effective realization requires political actors who are willing to “get their hands dirty”, to engage vigorously in struggles where the outcome is yet to be determined.
It is in desperate need of new leadership.
I’m actually inclined to agree with this statement–if only because I’ve always emphasized the need to bring in ‘fresh blood’ to maintain the movement’s vitality (against stale reactionary forces) and ensure that the process that is unfolding continues to evolve and develop.
Just want to be clear on one thing, Henrique Capriles does not offer new leadership for the Bolivarian Revolution–but the very end, the death of it! Regardless of his true political intentions, he will lack authority to enforce popular measures opposed by Venezuela’s elite.
One should actually credit Chavez’s entire success on the fact that his political power has rested almost entirely from popular support garnered from the country’s poorest citizens.
I have just written a letter to the Christopher Toothaker, the AP reporter who wrote the two articles I’ve been complaining about here, somewhat naively asking him to acknowledge the journalistic errors he has made. I would seriously like to know if these reporters are aware of what they’re doing, if they’re conscious members of the opposition, or if they fabricate stories based on scant evidence because they are competition with each other, and other news sources for headlines. I sent the email from my edu address, but I’ve no idea if he’ll reply….
Just the other day I read a comment by a member of the opposition describe the "average Venezuelan people" (who support Chavez in election after election) as "politically immature". You have to laugh if you consider that it has taken TEN YEARS for the political opposition to agree finally to participate in the country’s free and fair democratic elections. For TEN YEARS, the political opposition has engaged in a series of tactics (both legal and illegal) trying to overthrow the democratic government of Venezuela; it even refused to recognize the legitimacy of the popularly ratified Constitution of 1999. And here you have this fool saying he hopes President Chavez dies, another fine demonstration of the alleged "political maturity" of Chavez’s opponents.
I should have done that. Thanks for the tip.
I should probably point out why this perhaps seemingly insignificant oversight–the omission of any quotation from Chavez backing up the AP’s story about Chavez’s alleged accusation–troubles me; for if the news report is not itself ‘propaganda’, it is tailor-made for those who engage in anti-Chavez ‘propaganda’. Let me explain.
Chavez has every right to be skeptical about the opposition candidate’s intentions (given the opposition’s history of engaging in a wide variety of tactics, including violent coups, in seeking control of state power). Until recently, the opposition was largely organized by members of the former ruling elite who sought to reimpose a regime that was responsible for great misfortunes, economic crises, decadence, corruption, poverty, etc. Its intentions to re-instate oligarchic rule in Venezuela were made clear in 2002 when it staged a coup attempt against Chavez’s democratically elected government. (The first steps after the “triumph of a small oligarchic elite” were to dissolve parliament and void the popularly ratified Constitution!)
Now, after failing to gain power by all other means (both legal and illegal), the opposition has decided to participate in elections, and, for some strange reason, the same elites who had sought to reimpose an oligarchic regime are now apparently rallying around a supposedly left-of-center candidate, Henrique Capriles! So it is quite reasonable for Presient Chavez–and Venezuelan voters–to suspect that the opposition might be trying to pull an political ‘bail-and-switch’, something that actually has precedence with the 1989 elections.
However, without understanding this important context (which the AP article DOES NOT PROVIDE), when readers hear that Chavez is accusing Capriles of “concealing his true intentions” which he claims are to serve the interests of the country’s oligarchic elite, it’s easy to mistake this accusation for an anti-Semitic attack!
And SURE ENOUGH, just days after the article cited above was published, the AP comes out with this report: Jewish group: Chavez foe a target of anti-Semitism. Again, the article provides no quotation from Chavez making any such accusation against Capriles–and he makes no references to his jewish heritage! The AP repeats the same damn joke that was quoted in the article above–about Capriles dressing up for Carnival.
This stupid joke has become the basis for two AP reports, both of which are extremely misleading. The AP is truly writing its reports in a way that can be easily misread, and misrepresented by anti-Chavez forces!
I offer my firmest solidarity with you, Presidente, hoping that you will recover from this battle with your health, just as you have conquered many other difficulties that have presented themselves over the years. But please, follow your doctors instructions and take care of yourself; as you recover from this operation, do not worry about the upcoming election. The people will ensure that your legacy is not undone. Rest comfortably knowing that you have already done more good for el pueblo than any leader since Simon Bolivar; and God-willing, you will continue to do more in the future to advance Latin American unity and freedom, for many years to come. But, as you know, the road we’re on–toward a more equal, free and just society–is long, and, despite the undeniable progress, we are still a long way from declaring victory. There is still much to be accomplished before "21st century socialism" can be fully realized in Venezuela. But your characteristic strength and optimism has inspired a renewal of energy and hope to those–all across the world–who are currently fighting for a better world. By your example you have shown the good men and women of Venezuela, Latin America, and beyond, that an alternative is worth striving for; you have won the loyalty and trust of millions of people, who not only stand with you now, but have dedicated their lives to continuing the work of Revolution, carrying the project forward until its eventual completion. *¡Por ahora y para siempre viviremos y venceremos!*
I offer my firmest solidarity with you, Presidente, hoping that you will recover from this battle with your health, just as you have conquered many other difficulties that have presented themselves over the years. But please, follow your doctors instructions and take care of yourself; as you recover from this operation, do not worry about the upcoming election. The people will ensure that your legacy is not undone. Rest comfortably knowing that you have already done more for el pueblo than any other Latin American leader since Simon Bolivar; and God-willing, you will continue to do more in the future, for many years to come. But, as you know, the road we’re on–toward a more equal, free and just society–is long, and, despite the undeniable progress, we are still a long way from declaring victory. There is still much to be accomplished before "21st century socialism" can be fully realized in Venezuela. But your characteristic strength and optimism has inspired a renewal of energy and hope to those–all across the world–who are currently fighting for a better world. By your example you have shown the good men and women of Venezuela, Latin America, and beyond, that an alternative is worth striving for; and you can count on us to continue the wonderful work of Revolution, and eventually carry the project to completion. *¡Por ahora y para siempre viviremos y venceremos!*
This is a good example of why the AP sometimes sucks as a source for foreign news. The report describes an accusation that President Chavez has allegedly just made against his rival, and I am interested in hearing what Chavez himself actually said. (Is this a mere paraphrase or what?) Usually after a description like this, the AP will provide a short quote to back it up. It will be an approximate English translation, but it will usually be accurate enough (which makes it easier to search online for the original quote). But here, there aren’t any quotes from Chavez accusing Capriles of anything; so now I’ve now got to scan Spanish language news in the hope that another news source picked up the story and provided a quotation.
This is not the first time that the ‘anti-semitism’ card has been played against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and supporters of the current government. The political opposition has elected a candidate with Jewish heritage to run in this year’s presidential election against Chavez. Is it not possible to point out that a Capriles presidency would be likely to represent the interests of the former elites who once ruled the country and who are now backing him, interests that are contrary to the aspirations of the Venezuelan people, without being accused of anti-Semitism?
Uh, so it seems you know your stuff. Just wanted correct what looked like a mistake.
If you could show me a transcript or a specific example of something that the President has said that you believe is “very, very wrong”, I would give it serious attention; but as far as I’m concerned, every government in the world engages in ideological proselytism, and the only difference here is that President Chavez is not espousing the virtues of capitalism. This is not an abuse of power because you happen to disagree with his ideology!
With all due respect, I strongly object to the suggestion that the Venezuelan government is somehow infringing on the “freedom of political thought” by allegedly “demoniz[ing] the very act of organizing an opposition”. As you know, President Chavez has defeated the opposition again and again, winning 13 elections in the country over the past ten years; these were elections monitored by international organizations and were determined to be free and fair.
In the last elections for the National Assembly, held in 2010, the opposition parties nearly split the popular vote with the President’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela! Chavez did not object to the outcome, but rather welcomed the new legislators, asking them to “maintain dialogue and respect with the people” despite their disagreements.
But the truth is the opposition has not always accepted to play by democracy’s rules. It is true that the PSUV had previously dominated the National Assembly, but this wasn’t because the government crushed opposition parties, but because those parties foolishly boycotted the 2005 elections! Three years earlier the organized opposition tried to capture political power by staging an illegal coup attempt against Chavez’s democratically elected government!
Why should the President not criticize an opposition that refused to recognize the popularly ratified Constitution, or tried to violently overthrow a democratic government? It’s not as if the Venezuelan government had made ILLEGAL “the act of organizing an opposition”; it simply denounced the ILLEGAL tactics the opposition had organized!
By the way, the private media which you (for some unpersuasive reason) portray as a purveyor of government propaganda actually played a significant role in aiding an illegal coup attempt in 2002. The response on the part of the government was not as harsh one might expect from an allegedly oppressive regime; the government chose not to renew RCTV’s license when it expired and came up for renewal, but the opposition made a fuss anyway!
In sum, Chavez has welcomed the new members of the opposition in the last elections who agreed to play fairly and accept the outcome of the democratic process; there is nothing to suggest otherwise. But he has not, nor should he, tolerate freedom of the people’s enemies to overthrow democratic government and reinstate oligarchic rule!
> To argue that the "desperate acts" (the establishment of dictatorship, the murder, and the dissolution of the Soviets) committed by Lenin were necessary for the war is preposterous because it ignores that the fact that the revolution and the councils succeeded DURING war. Permit me to point out the fatal flaw in your argument. You are absolutely correct that "WWI was already in progress when the Soviets gained power, when the revolution took place." But the war during which the "desperate acts" committed by Lenin are regarded by some as necessary (and therefore justifiable) was NOT WORLD WAR ONE, as you seem to think, BUT [THE RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Civil_War)! It doesn’t make ANY SENSE to think that Lenin committed "desperate acts" to fight World War I because one of the FIRST THINGS he did as leader was to PULL RUSSIA OUT OF WWI! And the RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR was NOT "already in progress when the Soviets gained power" (as WWI was), since the CIVIL WAR was RESPONSE to the Soviets being proclaimed as the new government in Russia; the White Army was formed in opposition to Bolshevik rule! So your argument falls apart. It is one thing for "popular discussion and democratic organizations" to exist "even in the midst of the fighting" during a FOREIGN WAR (WORLD WAR I) because the Soviets themselves were not directly involved in the fighting! It was not until late October 1917, when the Russian provisional government collapsed, and the Bolsheviks placed power in the hands of the Soviets, that the Soviets finally became directly involved in fighting a war, THE RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR. The RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR NOT WORLD WAR ONE is the WAR being referenced by the phrase "War Communism".
I’m in complete agreement with you that the challenge for the Chavez government is to diversify Venezuela’s economy away from its major dependence on oil. Let me first say, however, that the country’s dependence on oil has long been an issue facing Venezuela’s governments, and isn’t unique to the Chavez era. I’m not an economist and cannot claim to have expert knowledge of what exactly a solution to this problem would entail, but I’ve done a good amount of reading and it does seem to me that Chavez’s government is doing the right things to meet this challenge as it is working on various fronts to strengthen national industry and national agricultural production.
I am not going to deny that there are faults with the Chavez government’s effort to deal with the problem, but I would say that these faults have more to do with the implementation of its policies, not the policies themselves. (Of course I’m generalizing. I’m told that Chavez’s price-control policies, for example, have–for complex economic reasons I don’t quite understand–exacerbated food shortages in the country, and so may have been unwise.)
But let’s get to the issue of land reform. When oil was discovered in the early 20th century, Venezuela’s countryside was abandoned and its population moved to urban areas. Due to that agricultural decline, the country today imports 70% of its food. So it was wise for the Chavez government to define increase food self-sufficiency as one of its major goals, just as it was wise, in my view, to institute land reform policies to increase food production and employment by redistributing land to small farmers. Now, it is fair to ask whether these land reform policies have been appropriately implemented, but also bear in mind that hundreds of campesinos have been assassinated by hit men hired by rich landowners merely because they were attempting to implement the government’s land reform policies.
I’d end with quote from this interview about the achievements and challenges of the Bolivarian Revolution:
…even though the non-oil sector has grown more than the oil sector during the past years, the overwhelming share of export incomes still come from oil, and Venezuela is in every sense an oil economy. To some extent, new production initiatives have had some success, but to radically change production-, consumption-, and settlement patterns is extremely complex. So they have a long way to go, and substantial success is far from given.
I love a chance to talk about Chavez, but it’s easier to discuss my support for him either on a particular issue or within a specific context, if you have one in mind that you’d want to discuss. Or, check out my previous comments if you like, as I almost only discuss Chavez on reddit. But, really, I would advise you to [follow or join already existing discussions](http://metareddit.com/monitor/ORBdT/chavez), where you’ll find Chavez supporters and opponents go at it at least several times a week.
Why does GOP candidate Mitt Romney claim that President Obama has ‘hurt’ the U.S. economic recovery, when the country’s economy has actually been speeding up and growing stronger, and the stimulus the President championed can be shown to have saved or created thousands of jobs? In both cases, the political challenger is falsely representing reality in the hope that the people will forego the cognitive dissonance and vote out of office a successful incumbent President.
So what’s your position? Are you upset that although some people in the world think Venezuela is a socialist country, socialism has not actually been implemented, though you’d like it to be? It seems strange to me that Chavez is criticized both by socialists for not being socialist enough, and by capitalists for being too socialist (even though Venezuela remains largely capitalist). What is so hard to understand about the Bolivarian Revolution being a radical process of change that is continuously evolving and unfolding in real time, with the goal not yet being in sight?
Dude, your dismissive attempt to pin a label on what’s going on in Venezuela is premature. As Chavez consistently points out, the Bolivarian Revolution is a radical process of change (against both the neoliberal economic policies imposed by previous governments, and the corrupt 40-year ‘representative democracy’ with which those governments were associated) that is, and has been, continuously evolving and unfolding in real time. Even if were true that Chavez’s government currently resembles a state capitalist model with characteristics of nationalistic populism, Chavez’s promise that "21st century socialism" is far from being fully realized in Venezuela would be enough to suggest that "21st century socialism" is not to be equated with this model! Against all odds, Venezuela is struggling to build an alternative to neoliberal capitalism while acknowledging that, at present, none exists. Of course, as with any (impossible) project like this, failures are to be expected, shortcomings are a given, but there’s at least inspiration in seeing what (apparent) limitations can be transcended and what new horizons can be reached.
I don’t even know where to begin. I am bewildered that you would attribute to the Venezuelan media (including the private media??) great power to shape citizens’ perceptions in favor of socialism, while remaining seemingly oblivious to the actual, documented efforts by Western media and (both right- and so-called left-wing) governments to promote capitalist ideology.
That may be the case from a South American point of view. But, from a Venezuelan point of view, I would argue that support for Hugo Chavez (from his rise to fame in 1992, his first election in 1998… up to today) is approximately tantamount to support for the Bolivarian Revolution, a social–and ideological–movement that is much bigger than just one man, and a political process of radical change in large measure directed against the neoliberal economic policies forcibly imposed on the people by the successive governments of a corrupt 40-year old ‘democratic’ system. It is precisely because Venezuelans were looking for someone capable of fundamentally reforming–or refounding–the political and economic order of the country, that Chavez gained popularity in the first place! This is pretty much confirmed by numerous political science reports and studies based on polls, surveys, other data–but please don’t make me look them up, as I’ve got a lot on my plate today.
With all due respect, your last statement could not be more wrong. In Venezuela, the poor care very much about ‘economic schools of thought’*, and there is strong evidence of this. Consider the notorious ‘El Caracazo’ of February 1989: a massive uprising of the poor against the neoliberal policies announced by then President Carlos Andres Perez (who was elected after running a markedly anti-neoliberal campaign, but reversed his position just DAYS after taking office). Mass protests and rioting erupted throughout the country for days before CAP initiated a wave of state repression, with estimates of the number of civilians killed ranging between 500 to over 3000. Again, this anti-neoliberal ideological sentiment preceded Chavez by many years, and places into context/created the conditions for the popularity of socialism in Venezuela today.
I suppose we should just hand the reigns of power over to you then?
As sorry as I am to hear that you are not interested in speaking to someone like me, a gringo who entiende espanol pero no lo habla mucho, it also amuses me that you say we could have a discussion–only if I were Venezuelan–even though you’ve already dismissed the Venezuelan people as supposedly “politically immature”. So one would have thought you’d prefer to engage a ‘mature’ Ph.D. student of political science from the U.S.; although I may be a foreigner, I am no stranger to Venezuelan politics, I’m extremely familiar with what goes on in the country, since making Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution the central focus of my work several years ago.
I love it when the opposition calls “**the average venezuelan people … very politically immature**” for having supported Chavez in election after election, as though it would have been a sign of ‘maturity’ if they had instead handed over power to the former ruling elite who *alone could handle the responsibility of governing the country*. I love it because it reveals the opposition’s truly-difficult–to-conceal *disdain* both for the principles of democracy (as embodied by the Bolivarian Revolution) and for the Venezuelan people, whom they desire to dominate and control.
Once again, you’ve intimidated a redditor so much with your facts that he thought over his options and found it better to delete his comment out of shame rather than respond! I aspire to be as good as you some day.
I am actually afraid for Capriles if he does get elected.
The former ruling elites still behind the opposition have been anxiously waiting for the chance to regain control of the country for the past thirteen years, and they want nothing more than to reverse all developments of Venezuelan society since Chavez was first elected in 1998.
However, after failing every conceivable effort to re-assert control, the opposition has cleverly decided to conceal its reactionary agenda for the time being, and to pursue a wholly cynical strategy to retake power by riding in on the coattails of a promising young ‘left-of-center’ candidate.
They will tolerate his populist campaign promises as long as it secures him a victory in the election; but he’s in for quite a surprise if he thinks those elites backing him will ever allow him to govern in the way he is promising!
If he tries to make good on his promises and follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, they’ll turn on him immediately but unlike Chavez, Capriles will lack the power to stop them, and his rule will be short-lived.
If he swings to the right to please his new masters–as President Carlos Andrés Pérez did in 1989–the people, following precedent, will cry bloody murder and rise up in righteous indignation.
The opposition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has tried everything to end his long rule: huge protests, a coup and an oil strike.
NPR forgot to mention the Venezuelan opposition’s referendum (conducted August 15, 2004) to determine whether Hugo Chávez, the current President of Venezuela, should be recalled from office.
The result of the referendum was NOT to recall Chavez (59% to 41%).
What else has the opposition tried? Let’s see… Death threats and assassination plots… From Wikipedia:
[In 2004], from his exile in Miami, disgraced former President Carlos Andrés Pérez declared “I am working to overthrow Chávez. Violence will allow us to take him out. Chávez must die like a dog.” […] There were echoes of the 2002 Venezuelan coup d’état attempt in Pérez’s claims that all Chavista institutions (such as the Supreme Court and National Assembly) would need to be dismantled under a junta governing for a “transition period” of 2 or 3 years.
[Look up the Wikipedia article for the sources.]
They’re just lucky that he happened to get cancer (assuming they’re not the reason he’s got it).
The Venezuelan opposition has been pointing to inflation as proof of President Chavez’s supposed mismanagement. Have a look at the history of inflation in Venezuela in this chart from the International Monetary Fund, no less! As you can see, since Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998, inflation has actually been declining in the country! As a Venezuelan citizen and Chavez supporter has recently pointed out, since Chavez’s first election, the two highest points in the graph are for the years 2002-2003 and 2008; these two points correspond to the periods of the opposition’s failed coup against Chavez (April 2002) and the PDVSA oil lockout (from December 2002 to February 2003), and later to the height of the 2007-2008 global FOOD PRICE crisis. These events which arguably led to the highest inflation rates under Chavez’s presidency (which were nevertheless still low compared to the exesses of Chavez’s precedessors in the late 1980s and 1990s) were obviously beyond the President’s control, not the result of his policies. For more about Venezuela’s inflation, this article comes recommended.
It is true that the most appealing aspects of the Bolivarian Revolution–such as its interest in deepening democracy and encouraging greater popular participation in the activities of the state and/or workplace–are probably best exemplified by those (generally pro-Chavez Venezuelans) who campaign to take over and occupy factories, and place them under worker’s control and management. That said, Chavez has not at all abandoned these inspiring principles; but his willingness to get his hands dirty by carrying out those measures necessary to usher in a revolution, and then to defend it from powerful political enemies, should not be taken for granted.
>His hero was Tony Blair I had to laugh when I read that, because I can’t imagine Chavez ever being as safe and moderate as Tony Blair! Although I know Chavez was not yet a socialist when he won his first election in 1998, I do think that, even back then, he nevertheless did already cultivate an image of himself as a radical reformer willing and capable of transforming a flawed ‘democratic’ system held under the rigid control of corrupt political and economic elites. From the very beginning, Chavez emerged as a leader of the opposition to the neoliberal policies that had led to widespread poverty and subordination of Venezuela’s economy and politics to the interests of U.S. capitalism. To an extent Chavez can still be seen as trying to implement a ‘third way’, insofar as he has learned from the past and (wisely) chosen not to follow the dysfunctional Soviet model (as Fidel Castro did in Cuba). There is still much work to be done before Venezuelans are able to actualize Chavez’s vision of "socialism for the 21st century". I wish them the best of luck!
I just realized it may not be clear to some readers: the failed coup AGAINST Chavez that was documented in “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” occurred in 2002, whereas the “coup attempt that launched his political career” (referenced in the headline of this article) occurred 20 years ago; by contrast, this 1992 coup attempt was actually LED BY by Chavez …against the government of then-president Carlos Andres Perez.
Although the 1992 coup failed, Chavez won the support of the Venezuelan people, who saw him as a national hero standing against a corrupt order ruled which was nominally ‘democratic’ but ruled by powerful elites. After being released from prison, Chavez harnessed his newfound popularity to organize a political movement to reform the country, and soon rose to power by winning the 1998 presidential election in a landslide victory.
I just wanted to clear up any confusion in case there was any…
I find it interesting that (in my view) Chavez has responded to this controversy in the same way that I imagine he would have if those were *adult* citizen supporters holding guns. Of course, his past ‘associations’ (some ‘real’, some merely ‘imagined’) with armed (guerrilla) revolutionary groups, in both Venezuela and elsewhere, has been the subject of criticism by the political opposition for a long time. Even *today*, headlines read "[Opposition Angered as Chavez Celebrates Coup](http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE8130RA20120205)". But the truth is that that Chavez has consistently renounced armed struggle ever since abandoning that strategy in favor of democratic elections following his unsuccessful coup attempt in 1992. To his credit, Chavez has repeatedly made clear that this has been a *"strategic"* decision: though the Bolivarian Revolution that he ushered in may be *"peaceful"*, it is not *"unarmed"*. The media will tell you different, but the strategic flexibility on which the Bolivarian Republic was founded, and has been defended and maintained through the threat of force sanctioned by the people, has proven to be a necessary quality worthy of imitation.
Chavez has consistently renounced armed struggle ever since his own failed coup attempt in 1992, after which he made a decision to abandon that strategy in favor of an electoral one. To his credit, Chavez has repeatedly stated that this is a *"strategic"* decision: he warns his political enemies that although the Bolivarian Revolution may be *"peaceful"*, it is not *"unarmed"*. You won’t hear it from the mainstream media in the U.S., but the strategic flexibility on which the Bolivarian Republic was founded, and has been defended and maintained through the threat of force sanctioned by the people, has been a useful and even necessary quality worthy of imitation. ¡Viva el Presidente Chávez, viva el pueblo venezolano! ¡Viva la revolución bolivariana de Venezuela!
I always found straw men arguments and gross generalizations sickening and hypocritical. Not a single figure you mention has been given a "free pass" by the reddit community, as you would so irresponsibly claim. On any given day, there may be *at most* a handful of redditors that will attempt to perceive a given news event or news story from the perspective of one of these leaders, and even fewer that actually go on to endorse their perspectives. Occasionally there are redditors who defend the words and actions of these figures, however controversial. But even here, these leaders are not typically given a ‘free pass’. The most that redditors argue is that there is *at least some redeeming value* in these perspectives, esp. in light of western imperial powers and interests. This has been my reddit experience. I don’t think there is good reason is should differ significantly from yours.