Chavez: Death of a genuine hero

Chavez: Death of a genuine hero

Hugo Chavez loved to speak and was a great orator. When needed he could be precise as when he described American President George Bush, the 'Devil'....

Hugo Chavez loved to speak and was a great orator. When needed he could be precise as when he described American President George Bush, the 'Devil'. It was the right word for a man who lied to his people, tampered with intelligence reports and dragged America into an illegal war against Iraq leaving behind a stinking messA Chavez died after a long battle with cancer, he was only 58. It is difficult to think of Venezuela or even Latin America without him. The entire region mourned for him, particularly Cuba whose charismatic revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, was his mentor. They were the two beacon lights in a poverty-stricken hunting ground for American imperialism but survived against heavy odds. No one deserved the Nobel Peace Prize better than Hugo Chavez
Of course, Castro and Chavez belonged to different eras.
Fidel won power overthrowing a wicked, cruel military dictatorship which had sold out the island's vital economic interests to greedy American casino owners. Capital city Havana was nothing more than a brothel. Cubans had no national pride left. But the nation was saved by patriotic elements and the brave guerrillas led by Fidel, his brother Raoul and the legendary Che Guevara. They fought the dictator's army in the hills and the towns and won a memorable victory. A For the US, it was a great opportunity to stand by the revolution and help the Castro regime to establish itself. But as usual, the US, the so-called bastion of democracy once again missed the bus because of corrupt right-wing business interests which wanted to bleed Cuba further.
The casino owners were kicked out, the brothels were closed, and drug addiction checked. But Cuba had to pay a heavy price. President Eisenhower, an empty-headed general who seldom understood international politics was persuaded by the Republican right wingers to cut off economic aid to Cuba. The Cold war was jus t warming up. Castro's appeal to the Soviet Union for economic aid was branded as an act of treachery by the US, Cuba suddenly became a Soviet 'satellite'. It was laughable that tiny Cuba was 'discovered' to be a 'threat' to the US. Even a sensible president like John Kennedy launched the infamous 'Bay of Pigs' invasion led by the notorious CIA which made America the laughing stock of the Western world. A succession of American Presidents gave free rein to the CIA for bizarre schemes to assassinate Castro but while Presidents came and went, the Cuban leader continued, more popular than ever. The antagonism against Cuba was so intense that the US was ready to risk a nuclear war over the installation of missiles on the island. While the US claimed to have won he 'eye ball to eye ball' confrontation, later events revealed it was a 'drawn' result because as the Soviet missiles were dismantled from Cuba, the same treatment was accorded to American missiles installed in Turkey, a NATO member. American hostility did affect the Cubans but they managed to live with the bare necessities. The people never lost their hope and faith for Fidel despite his caricature in the Western world. The US watched in envy and impotent fury as Castro was accepted as a major leader in the rest of the world and was one of the moving spirit of the Non-Aligned movement. Gradually, one after the other the western allies of the US lifted their trade embargo with Cuba which took on the leadership of the Latin American nations, most of whom were ready to break off the shackles of right wing corrupt military dictatorships. It was then Hugo Chavez made his mark in the region. Times had changed , the Cold War was dying out and Venezuela had discovered oil. Son of a school teacher, he belonged to the poor and watched his nation's wealth plundered by rich investors from abroad, particularly the US. He joined the army but was unwilling to fight guerillas. A coup attempt of which he was a member failed in 1992 but six years later he was elected to power in democratic elections. Quickly rising to the top, Chavez used his nation's oil wealth to better health, education and employment facilities and also help nations like Bolivia and Nicaragua to cut down their dependence on US aid. Chavez worshipped Castro who was not only an ally but an inspiration. They were vilified by the American media but never lost the affection of their people. Chavez became more popular by nationalizing the foreign oil companies clipping the wings of such giants like Exxon and Shell. With the price of oil in the international market jumping from $10 a barrel to more than $100, money poured into the country. The oil producing and marketing nations became the most powerful group in the world and men like Chavez began to play key roles in controlling international economy. Of course, he faced charges of encouraging one-party rule in Venezuela. But international political observers pronounced that national polls in the country were by and large, free and fair. Chavez was a true people's president. He was often seen in the slums, health clinics and subsidized food shops checking they were working properly. Venezuela possessed a social welfare system which was among the world's best and it received constant support from the government. Yes, there were charges that he clung to power. Some of the nation's laws were changed to suit him to continue indefinitely but the majority of his people did not seem to mind . In the last presidential election, the Opposition did unite and fielded a single, candidate but Chavez won comfortably. He delighted in being a maverick, banning alcohol and admiring Carlos the Jackal, the notorious international terrorist. He could have offered the olive branch to the opposition after the last election but did not do so. Instead, he removed opposition leaders from the boards of national oil companies ,expropriated lands of opposition leaders and jailed some of the senior retired army officers who challenged his 'autocratic' regime. But his popularity did not diminish. He made effective use of the national TV to communicate directly with the people and his constant jibes against the rich and the arrogance of the US were welcomed. . After decades, Venezuelans discovered pride in themselves and their nation. That was the greatest achievements of Hugo Chavez.
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