So Hugo Chávez has passed away. He has succumbed to cancer. He does seem to have been in a very serious condition for some time. Undoubtedly he did help the poor & oppressed & for that he is to be applauded. He did it on the back of Venezuela’s oil revenue. I don’t myself know how much oil Venezuela does have. The problem is that in the end it is going to run out anyway. Whether Chávez becomes a footnote in history or an iconic figure revered in the future is hard to say. For this, he has the advantage of passing away at the height of his powers. For revolutionaries, one of the problems is that the people lose patience.
There have been complaints of Chávez stifling the freedom of the press. But then the press seems to think it has the divine right to say what it likes all the time. As Lenin said, Freedom is so valuable, it should be limited.
There has been a trend recently for left of centre governments to assume power in Latin America. But Venezuela seemed to be the leader amongst these countries. At least, it was certainly the most high profile. The problem is that in a global capitalist economy, countries are trapped by the system. The history of the World is littered with attempts to create utopias; on the whole these attempts have resulted in dystopia or have collapsed & the former has reasserted itself. The point about Latin America & other parts of the World in fact, Australia, New Zealand & Israel for example is that the indigenous people were usurped or killed by Europeans. Much of the population of Latin America is descended from Spanish criminals who were given the opportunity of freedom providing they settled in one of the Spanish territories in South America. Their descendants are still wreaking havoc today.
Chávez is or was, probably a megalomaniac. Megalomaniacs especially should have their power limited. Chávez didn’t in fact have unlimited power. He held elections which he won. There is no doubt that he was popular amongst the poor & oppressed. But in the end his revolution will probably end in tears at least in part because there are so many forces which want him to fail. And then his successors will be blamed. They will say that if Chávez had lived longer the revolution would have succeeded.
Successive American Presidents have been resolutely opposed to Chávez because they were worried about their oil supply. America cannot seriously claim to be concerned about the lack of freedom in Venezuela considering all the unsavoury régimes they have supported over the past 100 years or so. But there must be some feeling of being beleaguered in America these days considering that America’s own system seems to be collapsing. History, at least at the moment, does seem to be on the side of left wing leaders in Latin America such as Hugo Chávez.