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Perdido en el siglo

Obituaries for Hugo Chávez

by DANIEL TROMPETER

Wednesday was a very sad day in world history. One of the greatest figures of the past two-thousand years, perhaps, died at the far too young age of fifty-eight. This Leo, born 28 July, 1954, was so great that at least one writer compared him to all Chávez’s own great heroes rolled into one: Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Simόn Bolίvar, and Antonio José de Sucre. The stars did indeed seem to align in this man. Great strength, energy, courage and forcefulness of character were combined with intelligence, with understanding and nuance, and especially with heart. Not forgetting the alignment of time and place: Latin America, post-Cuban Revolution, in the time of Vatican II and the great sweep of Liberation Theology. He successfully carried out a revolution not only in his own country, where no one would have thought it possible, but throughout Latin America, possibly the whole world—time will tell.

Is it some fantastic stretch to accuse Chávez of being so great? Perhaps. There have been other great revolutionaries. But how many world leaders today actually do the right thing? How many really care about the poor? You could say Jimmy Carter, but as President he didn’t stray the Empire’s course an inch. True greatness in these darkest of dark times, can only exist in trying to CHANGE THE SYSTEM—in revolution, Glorious Revolution. Chávez, quoted by Tariq Ali, believed: ‘It’s better to die in battle, rather than hold aloft a very revolutionary and very pure banner… dreaming of utopias.’ He was a man of action, a doer of great deeds, fearless, with no illusions. He was a military man, by necessity—both because that was one of the only open avenues to the poor and because without the military, revolution is impossible. Look to Tahrir Square to see the truth of this. When will the U.S. military wake up, see who they’re really fighting (their own people), and mutiny?

They finally got him. The ruthless murderers, the Anglo-Saxons of the North, who openly declared their intention to assassinate him—finally did. Chávez himself believed it; his experience was far too great and terrible for him to laugh off such ‘conspiracy theories’. Remember that Pat Robertson wasn’t just some reactionary, but a great king-maker and opinion shaper (shape-shifter?) when he pronounced: ‘We have the ability to take him out and I think the time has come to exercise that ability.’ And Evo Moralez, in the same interview quoted above, stated, ‘It’s not only the political control. Now we have been informed that they are planning to commit assassinations of political leaders and in the military… to eliminate “uncomfortable” figures such as myself.’

Was Chávez given his cancer deliberately? We may never know. Knowing anything with any kind of certainty is nearly impossible in these days of misinformation and disinformation, of the relentless stream of lies upon lies, big ones, small ones, and diversion upon diversion. Try keeping up with all the celebrity and sports gossip on Yahoo, popping up, flashing past. Screeching sounds, moving targets. The more you try, the more your brain gets fried. Congratulations, Master! You’ve figured out what it takes to keep a human brain from concentrating, and nothing is left to chance—you’ve conquered in advance any potential revolutionary armies. But oh! – if the truth could get out!

All that is certain is that many influential people in the U.S. and Venezuela, all very rich of course, wanted him dead. They believed, or at least desperately hoped, that he was the key to the sea change flooding over Latin America, and that with his removal the tide could be returned to normal, to business – and privilege – as usual. There is a lot of celebrating going on this week. From today’s Yahoo: Champagne, relief as Chávez’s detractors yearn for new era. Shameless. In your face. The media creeps never rest. They’re a great cancer on society, on your brain.

They’re the ruling elite’s great weapon. Mind control is everything—and again, they leave nothing to chance. You are being, you have always been, and you will always be—bombarded constantly, mainly just with diversions, wastes of time like sports, fashion, celebrity-watching; but if you decide you’d like to know a bit about what’s going on, to read or watch the news, you will be met with a great torrent here too—of lies great and small. And yet people believe them. And yet how could they not believe them? The end result is your average person: maybe a bit wary of what he’s being told, but really not. He watches the History Channel, he knows history. And he’s not fooled, either—he listens to Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones, or maybe he’s clever and reads the New Yorker or the Independent.

Who out there questions the system fundamentally? Who thinks private property is wrong, business is wrong, fighting is stupid, war is inexcusable – always? Because it will take a lot of people who think this way—with true heart and intelligence—to make a fundamental change. Chávez thought this way. Injustice glares you in the face everywhere you look—fix it.

Still, I am one who, okay, doesn’t actually believe in the possibility of some great mass consciousness-shift, but I do think we need to bear in mind our ideals; to me, these are collectivity, no private property, no need whatsoever to worry about food or housing. It would be easy. Where does money come from? To get rich, you have to take from others; others must become poor. (Besides the question that money is just paper, just made up, just a fiction—enforceable only through brainwashing, through believing it’s true, just as private property is only possible when you’ve got a police force and a military—why? Because it is not fair, it is not Just.)

The great American Indian writer Vine Deloria said that there is an unbridgeable gulf (not just some few little differences) between an individualist society and a tribal one. The Anglo-Saxon model used in the English-speaking world is the extreme of the individualist model, that is—selfishness, all against all, everyone’s everyone else’s natural enemy. This is insanity. It is rule by bully; the biggest goon wins. Is this what all of humanity must be reduced to? Does the lowest life form—all id and lizard brain—get the ‘natural’ right to dictate the terms of life to the rest of us? There is great and endless beauty and subtlety of which the human mind is capable—there are great models to be found amongst ‘native’ peoples worldwide (and of course the Irish). The human mind is always breaking out, always overcoming, always becoming. Why on earth should anyone spend his time thinking about keeping what’s his, screwing his neighbor over, money, control of others, hating everyone, etc?

The assumption in all of whitey’s press is, They just can’t make their society work (the darkies). And of course the complimentary assumption that all’s well in the utterly brutal ‘global north’. And it is, for roughly 10 to 20% – all the middle managers (slave overseers) need to be compensated, to get their perks, to be kept full, stupid and content.

But, always true to Master’s Plan, the tendency of most people is wariness of their fellow man. Certainly trust no one. Seek for ‘friends’ people who you perceive can do something for you. Etcetera. This is our pathetic state, this is humanity today. People think this was inevitable, they think it’s the natural order of things. How many have I heard it said, ‘It has always been thus’? Granted, with the damaged-from-birth state of most of us it just rolls over and over, generation upon new generation.

But with a very little bit of effort, which in the end would actually be no effort at all and a joy, we can be nice to our fellow man. This means, of course, everyone. Even if we don’t really mean it—just practice it, solely on principle: the meaning of it might just come later. This means eradicating class from your mind, and with it bitchiness, insincerity, fear and backbiting. It means talking to people who, okay, aren’t as smart or good-looking as you, but who knows an individual human’s potential? It truly is infinite. Must we be petty? Must others be miserable for us to be happy? Must we, as they say, be stuck forever and always in high school, in popularity and beauty contests, in Heathers?

I shall finish with what the title of this article says: obituaries for Hugo Rafael Chávez Frίas, who lives on in the hearts of so many millions. I have taken a representative selections of articles from our holy press, and added my own comments in brackets. Finally, at the end of this piece, I have included the most over-the-top thing I could find from the Great Mother of the great-dumbing-down: Fox ‘News’ (from a few years back when Chávez was at the U.N.).

So what did our mass media write as obituaries for Chávez? In death, as in life. A good place to start is Yahoo! ‘News’, which ran this headline, pinched, it can be seen, from the Atlantic.

Hugo Chavez Wasn’t Just a Buffoon. He Was an Oppressive Autocrat

By Francisco Toro, The Atlantic

Chávez slipped comfortably into the role of romantic Latin American revolutionary, championing the poor against an unfeeling local oligarchy and its imperial paymasters. Reactions to this narrative arc are always visceral; ill-suited to nuance….

To start to appreciate the dynamics of Chávez’s power, you have to begin with his speeches: endless, vituperative, folksy, rambling…and built over the years into a kind of corpus of law. They became the sources of ultimate power in the country, their authority far outranking – in practice, if not in theory – that of laws, regulations, even the constitution. Under Chávez, Venezuela became an Oral Republic, a place where an off-the-cuff remark could land you in jail, end your job, see your property seized, or, alternatively, set an orgy of petrodollar spending loose on your community…

And yes, having won all those elections he proceeded to act like an absolute monarch rather than an elected official, relishing every chance to showcase his contempt for the institutions of constitutional government, and gradually dismantling them in the process…

Chávez’s insistence on absolute submission from his supporters paved the way for the rise of an over-the-top cult of personality. As questioning any presidential directive was a sure career-ender for his followers, the upper reaches of his government came to be dominated by yes-men. Further down the food chain, too, extravagant displays of personal loyalty were required from every person in every nook and cranny of Venezuela’s massive and fast-growing state apparatus, with state-owned factory workers required to attend rallies and clerical personnel fully expected to donate part of their salaries to the ruling party…

There’s an ineffable creepiness to a society where the leader never pays a political price for what he says, no matter how plainly crazy or illegal it may be.

[All these quotes make one thing obvious: people with lots of money will say anything. That's how they got money in the first place: No scruples. Every single thing in this article is bullshit. (The 'Oral Republic': classic. Give that man a pay raise.) The author knows it. But what readers of the Atlantic, much less Yahoo!, do? These are the same people (the world ruling-class and their eager beavers in Mind Control) who were capable of staging the powerful imagery necessary to carry out the coup of 2002—purported Chavistas shooting randomly into a crowded street of government protesters, killing several random Innocents. The whole thing was staged. See South of the Boarder, by Oliver Stone, or The Revolution Will Not be Televised, an Irish documentary. To continue with the article:]

Today millions of Venezuelans will weep tears of genuine anguish at his passing. Their sincerity should not be doubted. Chávez earned the heartfelt affection from a broad swathe of down-and-out Venezuelans with very real… reasons to despise the creaking, corrupt two-party system he replaced. He hit a deep vein of gratitude…

It’s just that, over the past fourteen years, he exploited that vein ever more ruthlessly, strip-mining the people’s affection for the gratification of a monstrously overgrown ego and dismantling the institutions of democratic life in the process.

[The 'creaking, corrupt two-party system' he replaced was nothing of the kind—or, it was a two party system on the U.S. model, that is, as Gore Vidal said, a single Corporate Party with two right wings. Voting in Venezuela, like in the U.S. (or Britain, or France, or....), was meaningless—till Chávez. No, the 'down-and-out Venezuelans' felt something much deeper than that.
'Strip-mining the people's affection for the gratification of' his ego?

As for dismantling democratic institutions, he never did anything of the kind, and always did the precise opposite: strengthened, and developed innovative new, democratic institutions.
On the Atlantic's website is found the title 'Hugo Chavez: A Strongman in Jester's Garb'. When you click on this, you get the above article, but with 'zany' added to the title: Chavez wasn't Just a Zany Buffoon, He was an Oppressive Autocrat. And this was for their obituary!]

***

Also from ever-reliable Yahoo!, there was EVEN IN DEATH, HUGO CHAVEZ’S ORDERS FOLLOWED, which could be clicked to get to the article titled:

Even after death, Chavez gets choice of successor

By Frank Bajak and Fabiola Sanchez | Associated Press

…U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell denied Washington was trying to destabilize Venezuela and … added that the suggestion that the United States had a hand in Chavez’s illness was “absurd.” …

Chavez leaves behind a political movement in control of a nation that human rights activist Liliana Ortega, director of the nongovernmental group COFAVIC, describes as a badly deteriorated state where institutions such as the police, courts and prosecutor’s offices have been converted into tools of political persecution and where most media are firmly controlled by the government.
Javier Corrales, an Amherst College political scientist, said he was concerned about the “virulent, anti-American discourse” under Maduro. “It seems to me this is a government that is beginning to blame the United States for all its troubles.”

“This is very dark,” he said. “This is the most nebulous period, the most menacing that the government has been, and the actions have been pretty severe.”
[A point or two: Beware the NGO. See The Chávez Code or Bush Versus Chávez, both by Eva Golinger, to get some idea of the havoc they wreak, all under the cover of being innocuous, neutral organizations.

'Most media' have never been 'controlled by the government',firmly or otherwise, under Chavez—this, again, is very well documented: he notoriously let the fascist opposition run anti-Chávez propaganda twenty-four hours a day without shutting them down—all in the spirit of fairness, of true democracy.

Finally, Javier Corrales – perhaps not just an innocent party, perhaps not just a political science professor – has written several articles in Foreign Affairs, which is published by the Council on Foreign Relations—an extremely powerful and influential 'think tank', which has merited scrutiny from various well-known 'conspiracy theorists', as well as the very well-respected Noam Chomsky.]

***
Foreign Affairs ran its own obituary piece, by Michael Shifter, ironically called:

So Long, Chavez

[The tone is set:]

In the early 1990s, building on U.S. President George H. W. Bush’s widely applauded vision of a hemisphere-wide free-trade zone, Mexico, Canada, and the United States negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement… Continuing this trend, the hemisphere’s democratically elected leaders gathered for the first-ever Summit of the Americas in 1994′… Words like “consensus” and “community” were used to capture the sense of good will.

Since 1999, however, when the recently deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez came to power, the sense of community in the region has dissipated. Policy divergences among Latin American countries have become sharper; free trade and liberal democracy are no longer popular goals; and Latin America and the United States have, albeit cordially, gone their separate ways… After all, both at home and abroad, Chávez was mainly intent on accumulating power, not fostering cooperation. That is what motivated him to curtail Washington’s influence in Latin America and around the world.

['Bush's widely applauded vision'—by the ruling elite, and their capitalist press.

'Democratically elected leaders gathered' – as if we cared about that. And how representative of the people are our own 'democratically elected leaders'? If you can't answer that...

'Sense of community... dissipated' – the exact opposite was actually true; but this is double-speak.

'Policy divergences...sharper' – only between true democracies and the remaining 'Chicago Style' neo-liberal states, like Colombia.

'Albeit cordially' – cordially by Venezuela, which was gracious enough, among other things, to allow known spies to go with their NGO back to the States unharmed. Let's say it's always rather uncordial from the U.S. Government's end—ever aggressive, ever relentless, ever ruthless (as indeed this very article in Foreign Affairs nicely illustrates).]

***

[Below is from the New Yorker's obit, which is fair-seeming, and yet...]

…Became increasingly acerbic about policies and attitudes of the American “empire.”

…An attempted coup d’etat by a cabal of right-wing politicians, businessman, and military men in 2002 saw Chávez briefly and humiliatingly detained, before he was freed and allowed to resume office. The coup against Chávez had failed, but not before the plotters had apparently received a wink and a nod from the Bush Administration. Chávez never forgave the Americans…

[All misleading at best. American 'empire' in quotes? Maybe just 'American' should be in quotes, as it's really not American, but vast world rogue corporations, unanswerable to not only the U.S., but any state. 'Before he was freed and allowed to resume office' – not quite so simple. He was about to be killed in a highly tense situation, guns pointed at him from in front and behind, it seems for most of the two-day standoff. Only the military saved him—they saw him as their leader (see South of the Boarder). And of course the angry, passionate mobs surrounding Miraflores, despite the full-force campaign of bald-faced lies by the usual fascist media. And the 'wink and nod' from the Bush Administration was much more than that, very active participation, aggressive policy, etc.]

***

[New York Times below]

Chávez Altered How Venezuela Views Itself, for Good or Ill

Ideologically, Mr. Chávez was something of a chameleon, taking on and shedding policies and programs as they suited him.

He was a self-described socialist who expropriated private businesses and property but looked the other way as opportunists enriched themselves off government contracts.

He preached about economic independence and created chains of subsidized grocery stores but neglected agriculture and relied heavily on imported food.

He excoriated capitalists and lectured about service to the country but tolerated or ignored widespread corruption.

He condemned the United States at every turn but depended on it to buy the oil that made his movement possible.

He spoke of a people’s right to self-determination but allied himself with tyrants in Libya, Syria and Iran.

['For good or ill' – good if you are a person, ill if you are the old ruling white elite.

'Something of a chameleon' ideologically, 'taking on and shedding policies and programs as they suited him' – in fact extremely consistent.

Finally, the Times' string of one-liners are sort of pointless bordering on absurd—something like a freshman in high school might write – or copy from an encyclopedia.]

***

[L.A. Times below]

The charismatic leader won the loyalty of the impoverished with his socialist revolution, but he left the nation deeply divided and did little to help it develop, analysts say.
[Of course courtesy of 'analysts']

…Although he was democratically elected four times, and won several nationwide referendums, he closed TV and radio stations critical of him, armed a civilian militia and brought the bureaucracy under close control, detractors said.
[Key: 'detractors said']

…”The poor have had more money to spend, but it’s come at a great price,” said Jeffrey Davidow, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. “The money should have been put to productive use in industry, housing or education. So, in the long run, it hasn’t been of much help to Venezuelans.”
[Quoting a U.S. Ambassador? Distasteful at best, for anyone who knows something of U.S. 'diplomatic' history in Chávez's Venezuela.]

…He roused Latin American opposition to the so-called Washington Consensus that developing nations should open their markets to free trade and foreign investors. He called President George W. Bush a terrorist for invading Afghanistan.

[No remote attempt at analysis – Chile, Brazil, Argentina (the list goes on): they all have plenty of experience of the likes of the Washington Consensus (privatization—what else?), the Chicago Boys, indeed Operation Condor (from which the term desaparecidos – disappeared – became famous).
Bush was a terrorist, and is a war criminal – as are Clinton and Obama.]

***

[Chicago Tribune below:]

A victory by Capriles, a centrist politician who says Venezuela should follow Brazil’s softer center-left model, would be welcome by investors and bring big changes – though he has urged calm.

[This was the final word in the Tribune's article—to the opposition, of course.  'Brazil's softer center-left model'--whatever on earth that might be. Could it just be status quo multinational capitalism? Capriles is just a 'centrist' – again, whatever that is. Self-centered and fascist? It's one of those words calculated to make you think you're not important, because you don't even know what a centrist is, much less practice centrism, or is it centrismo?]

***

Finally, the Fox program is transcribed below. Group sex followed by crack smoking seem to have taken place before the cameras rolled for this piece. Everyone is so well bonded and in sync with everyone else, which it seems only that kind of true familiarity could breed; and the manic madness—I’ve been forced to put most of it in italics—the screeching insanity of it all: suggests only the pipe.

‘One of America’s arch enemies taking his message of hate to the United Nations… Wayne, we saw his freak show here in Manhattan. Is this something we should actually be worried about?’ ‘I don’t think.. I mean, the guy’s a maniac, he’s a clown, he’s a maniac, he said the whole thing about bush being there and he smelled sulfur… It’s terrible.. that we allow this to happen…and the fact that they invited… Ahmadijad [sic] over to the Council on Foreign Relations…I mean would you invite Hitler to lunch, would you invite Charles Manson…’ ‘Jonathan what did you think?’ ‘Wayne says he’s a maniac but like unpack that a little bit Wayne, I mean the man is a socialist, I mean that’s what that is… Absolutely, this man doesn’t respect capitalism or private property or individual rights…and that traitor Danny Glover… we should withdraw from this corrupt, you know worthless organization, the UN, that gives this man such a platform’ …(another guy:) ‘He’s an economic terrorist, I don’t know why we don’t let Bin Laden to have a stump speech here in New York and I’m sure Danny Glover would support him as well… this is pathetic.’ (different guy) ‘I think this is part of a secret plan from Howard Dean and the DNC, I think Hugo Chavez is going to be the frontrunner for … the Democratic Party. He’s giving all the talking points of the DNC…’ (different guy) ‘I think Wall Street has to worry about a shift to the left, a shift to more nationalist countries…’ (back to Wayne) ‘Maybe that says something about the intelligence of the public, maybe we’re not informed, maybe we’re morons, if we believe this kind of stuff, I’m serious…Jonas is right…would they invite our leaders down there to say the same kind of things that he’s saying in this country? Well why don’t people just think about that?’ ‘But you know what, it’s Socialism 101, you know Jonathan is right, he’s appealing to the masses he’s appealing to the poor he’s trying to do the same thing here. He hates the free markets. He sends Citgo over here to make millions of dollars, they give a few pennies to a few poor neighborhoods, they bring all the cash back to him.’… ‘Well as you know… Chavez is a disciple of Fidel Castro… I think there’s gonna be some appeal to lower income demographics, maybe some of the demographics of the Democratic Party… but I don’t think the average American is gonna buy this cheap oil trick…I think the American people can see right through it… when you spend money at Citgo, you’re giving money to Al Qaeda, Americans can see that’.

Daniel Trompeter is an American living in Brighton, England.