On Hugo Chavez: Four Points of Orientation

March 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela for the last 14 years, died of cancer on Tuesday, March 5. In coming weeks, Revolution newspaper will feature analysis of Hugo Chavez, his program and outlook, and the regime he headed. We offer readers these four points of orientation for understanding the politics and economics of Hugo Chavez and U.S. imperialism’s stance towards him.


1. U.S. imperialism has dominated Venezuela.

Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. dominated Venezuela's economy. It gave military and political support to the ruling regimes that represented the interests of the wealthy landed, industrial, and financial elites. Oil was a critical factor. Venezuela had emerged as a major oil producer in the world, and U.S. oil companies were heavily involved in Venezuela's oil sector. In 1989 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed a vicious austerity plan on Venezuela. The masses took to the streets in militant protest. The government responded with bloody repression, murdering at least 3,000 people.


2. Hugo Chavez was a thorn in the side of U.S. imperialism.

Hugo Chavez came to office in 1998 against a backdrop of massive corruption, autocratic rule, and subordination to imperialism. He said that the resources of Venezuela belong to the Venezuelan people, and that oil revenues should be used to improve social welfare. He called for a foreign policy that would stand up to the U.S. For these and other reasons, Hugo Chavez commanded considerable popular support. For these reasons, Hugo Chavez also became a thorn in the side of U.S. imperialism. In April 2002, the CIA backed a coup against Chavez. And throughout Chavez's presidency, U.S. government aid agencies and military attaches, and U.S. private foundations and media outlets, have worked to build up anti-Chavez forces in Venezuela.


3. Hugo Chavez did not stand for genuine revolution and genuine socialism.

A real revolution in an oppressed Third World country like Venezuela requires a two-fold break. There must be a radical break with the political economy of imperialism. And there must be a radical social revolution, a radical break with traditional relations and ideas. This was neither the program nor outlook of Hugo Chavez. Venezuela remained dependent for revenues on the world oil economy, which is dominated by imperialism. It remained dependent on the world market, which is dominated by imperialist agro-business, for its food. Under Chavez, there was improvement in literacy and health care, but there was no fundamental change in the class and social structure of society. Agriculture is still dominated by an oligarchy of rich landowners. In the cities, the poor remain locked into slums. Women remain subordinated and degraded. Abortion is banned in Venezuela.   


4. U.S. imperialism has no right to meddle or intervene.

Any and all attempts by the U.S. to destabilize, or plot against, the Venezuelan government must be resolutely opposed. We in the U.S. have a special responsibility to act on that understanding.


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