Home > General Politics > Chavez: The personification of a political farce

Chavez: The personification of a political farce

A recent Guardian response on comment is free had it: ‘Libyan intervention was a success, despite the aftermath’s atrocities’. To the unforgiving, this sentiment could appear callous and ignorant of the calibre of struggles to come, but is very much consistent with the altruistic justification for intervention indeed.

Take 1930s Spanish history as a judge. If Franco had lost the civil war, a great power grab would have overcome the coaltion of Trotskyites, Stalinists, moderates and social democrats, anarchists and the small cohort of sympathetic Liberals who composed the republican resistance.

Initially, no mandate could or would have allowed office to whoever the victor was, but in a revolution, after the battle the war begins. The intervention to level out the disproportionate amount of power enjoyed by a vengeful Gaddafi and his footsoldiers succeeded where it neutrally facilitated what became the victory to the rebels.

One can only hope the transitional council does the right thing and translates a rainbow coalition of resistance into a post-Gaddafi democratic bloom.

One world leader they know they can not turn to for support is Hugo Chavez – but then this was a long time coming.

In Chavez’ Venezuela, the poor and dispossessed felt they had finally found someone in whom their concerns are listened to. Programmes are catered for, staples are subsidised, more people today are covered by state pensions and disused private land is expropriated to pursue a campaign of quality housing for those most in need.

For everything there is to celebrate, there is something to scould Chavez for.

Even on a domestic front, where Chavez’ strengths are, support is relatively drippy. Roland Denis, a grassroots campaigner close to an emerging coalface organisation called the Great Patriotic Pole, in an interview with Venezuela Analysis, spoke of the decreasing enthusiasm among Chavez’ main base.

In the coming elections the PSUV (the United Socialist Party of Venezuela – a fusion of political and social forces grouped together, led by Hugo Chavez) are going to struggle – that is established. Chavez knows this, too. He leads in the poles now, but when the right wing have decided who to back, they will enjoy a very threatening spike in support.

As Denis admits, the problem of decreasing support for the PSUV is the “erosion of the popular movement”.

He continues, however, by stating that “the very dynamic of the state deepens this erosion [of popular movements in Venezuela] by establishing a corporate state practice within these movements”. 

Not forgetting the failed, but very concerted, attempt by Chavez to be President for life, the increasing move from community oriented politics, where Chavez began, to a saturation of that model with corporate structures and an all encompassing state control, has been noted.

“By ceasing to be reference points”, Denis laments, “for the struggle, [the PSUV] stop existing for the people [and] Hugo Chavez is the son of this people; he is not the father of this people. We gave birth to Hugo Chavez”.

Elsewhere, a right wing opposition leader by the name of Leopoldo Lopez, is to be barred from ever holding political office by the Supreme Court. By decree he has every right to run for office, only in knowledge that in his preferred circumstances, he would still be officially unable to take office – owing to a court decision attesting to his corruption as a former district mayor in Caracas, a matter on which he notes he was never sentenced for in a court.

According to Lopez, Chavez has been seeking ways in which to block high profile candidates such as himself, and cites the fact that the Supreme Court is disproportionately represented by pro-Chavez supporters. Chavez does not deny this to be true, but does argue that they are autonomous and adhere to the law.

Criticism and opposition towards Chavez at home was once dominated by the right, but suspicions have been raised on both sides of the political fold. This will not bode well for his fight to lead Venezuela again after the next election.

And this is even before we mention Chavez’ standing, and allies, at an international level (Iranian rogue Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has visited Venezuela 3 times since he took office in 2005, a fourth time denied because of Chavez’ ill health).

When alive, Gaddafi named a baseball stadium after Hugo Chavez just outside Benghazi. The transition council should think about removing that name. Perhaps grassroots movements in Venezuela should think about trying to do the same for the PSUV and for Venezuela.

  1. skidmarx
    October 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    He leads in the poles now
    Arctic and Antarctic Bolivarians salute you!
    Not forgetting the failed, but very concerted, attempt by Chavez to be President for life
    Abolishing elections, or allowing him to continue standing in them?
    If Franco had lost the civil war, a great power grab would have overcome the coaltion of Trotskyites, Stalinists, moderates and social democrats
    What do you mean, if? And who are these ‘moderates’ you speak of?
    Iranian rogue Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    Is he Sarah Palin or Terry Thomas now, or are you just adopting the language if not entirely as yet the politics of the US administration?

    A post long on contempt and short on substance

    • October 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks. Your comment is weird. Is there anything *you* disagree with about the entry?

  2. skidmarx
    October 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Is weird a compliment? I’m quite happy to take it as such.

    I’m tempted to ironicise with “For everything there is to celebrate, there is something to scold you for”. My complaint is that there is very little said beyond “I don’t like Chavez”. Looking through there’s:

    1.Chavez supported Gaddafi – not exactly news. Not a good thing, but somewhat understandable when the US has tried to overthrow Chavez, and every other progressive leader in the Western hemisphere in the last fifty years (until about the point they gave up with Lula, and just wanted him to do their dirty work in Haiti), he should view their enemy as his friend.

    2.There’s a left-wing criticism that he doesn’t go far enough – absolutely, but it cuts across the attempt to portray him as a dictator that is uniquely bad in Latin America and in anyway worse than a return to the old regime, which is what the right anti-Chavistas want. And you don’t give any details of what the left criticisms are.You do claim he wanted to be president for life, which is dealt with in my previous comment. Not another great piece of right-wing terminology to be adopting.

    3. Lopez is banned from office because he was found by a court to be corrupt but was never sentenced. Seems like he’s complaining on the basis of a technicality, if we’re going to start on the bias of politically appointed Supreme Courts, Bush v Gore seems like a much more conclusive place to start on indicting a political system.

    4. He’s mates with Imonajihad. See point 1.

    Have I missed anything?

    • October 30, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      I don’t like Chavez, true, but from the left and as a former Chavista who visited Venezuela too. Lovely place. Expensive as fuck. What we learn new, from the article which I quote from, and consequently what I’m bringing to the TCF audience, is that there is a problem emerging in campaigns, which is hurting the party of campaigning – the PSUV – and its leader. Lopez will provide the right wing critique, but there are critical supporters voicing concern now.

      Chavez is atrocious as regards his allies, and it is not about befriending your enemies’ enemy – what a stupid thing to agree with. But normally we can forgive him for his domestic programme. But that’s coming apart, and on his watch the PSUV is not being supported by campaign arms, but campaign arms are running with stifling corporate structures, alienating grassroots campaigners, such as the one I quoted largely from.

      Insightful article/interview that is too (sorry I can’t link to it – am on my phone).

  3. Anon
    October 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    More American propaganda.

    • Anon
      October 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm

      Whoops wrong account ~ nothing to do with xxxxx should have been my personal account.

      • October 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm

        I always wanted to know what the XXX XXX XXX thoughts were on all matters Chavez, too. I’m no propagandist for the Americans though, that’s the point of the article really – not just the political right on Chavez’ case today.

  4. paulinlancs
    October 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm


    Removed the other name you gave as a precaution – not censoring, but don’t won’t you in trouble for simple IT error

    • October 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm

      Many thanks ~ correct account this time ~ Chavez isn’t perfect, but he’s far better for the people of Venezuela than any of the US stooges who have run against him, and that old ‘president for life’ meme? He can only be president while he’s voted in. There are plenty of countries where there is no limit on terms, not to mention another where the President just takes a term off and becomes PM for a while. Ahmadinejad represents an OPEC country ~ one would expect him visit other OPEC countries.

      • October 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm

        I disagree with you David. Before, I disliked Chavez’ alignment with Ahmadinejad, which as far as I’m concerned was all based on a kneejerk anti-Americanism that many don’t share (and here I don’t mean capitalism. For example, the International Marxist Tendency, British far left allies of Chavez, criticised both Ahmadinejad and anti-Americanism on the grounds that it neglected a class argument for a national argument – which is a distraction. This is what I mean). But while Chavez on the international stage was troubling, he was an asset on domestic issues, as I explained.

        So while this was the case before, reading the interview with a well known grassroots activist, saying that Chavez has reneged on his campaigning strengths, and those of the PSUV in general, I realise that Chavez’ project is falling apart home and abroad.

  5. Jacob Richter
    October 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    The big turning point was the failure of the 2007 referendum. All the compromises Chavez has made since then can be attributed to too many otherwise sympathetic citizens staying home and not voting Yes.

    • October 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm

      I’m sure many of them are well-meaning, and principled, compromises, but the 2007 referendum is crackers and I’m ashamed to say I supported it at the time😦

      • Jacob Richter
        November 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm

        Why? There was a lot of social legislation in there, plus boosting of communal power against bourgeois federalism.

      • November 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

        but the presumption is you win elections by successfully relaying the merits of proposed legislation, not assuming they will be fit for purpose until death.

  6. Edgar
    November 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I would have found it more problematical and concerning if Chavez had been a friend of Bush rather than Gaddafi given the region he comes from.

    I think Chavez by removing the term limit was to his mind protecting the revolution in its infancy. The problem is that no genuine movement for change can rely on one guy to carry it through. If it does rely on one guy then it is doomed. The only case where this can be understandable is in the early days of a movement. Chavez must believe the movement isn’t mature enough to free itself from the cult of personality, which is concernimng and a more general problem from Caracas to Cardiff.

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