From Mick Piggott
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Whatever Hugo Chavez’s perceived faults, his government’s focus was on improving the lot of the poor of his country, not on increasing the wealth of the rich, as with our government. The opposite, in fact, of the politics of all Britain’s major political parties.
This made him, in my humble opinion, a far more honourable and decent politician than just about any leading Western political figure - non excepted.
The first person to be interviewed on the BBC news about Chavez, following his death, was a representative of the US government, whose comments were predictably mean-spirited. There’ll probably be an avalanche of hostile obituaries now; in the face of this, it would be lovely if people could maintain a sense of perspective about what Chavez achieved and what he was trying to do for his people.
He may not have been perfect, but compared with our lot, he was a good man and a great leader. RIP.
From Miles Hutchinson
Thursday, 7 March 2013
I'm not sure about his motives or intentions, but Human Rights Watch suggests he was far from a figure we should be putting on any kind of pedestal -- particularly not, in my opinion, from the safety of a country where we enjoy freedom of speech and expression in direct contrast to many Venezuelans.
I also suggest that anyone who's interested checks out the Transparency International website, which assesses countries for things such as the degree of judicial independence, the degree of public sector corruption, degree of press freedom, & so forth. On all of these measures (all from reputable global bodies) Venezuela scores extremely poorly.
From Darren G
Monday, 11 March 2013
Chavez had many problems but one of the wasn't the support of the people. He reguarly won elections with 55-65% of the vote with a turn out of 80%. Can anyone name another leader with that sort of history?
Cameron would be over the moon with 65% with a 20% turn out.
I think if you look at any recent UK leader they will also be responsible for many deaths of their people, just look at how many ATOS are responsible for, paid by our government.
One death is too many, and I'm sure Venezuela has many problems, but we turn a blind eye to many legalised capitalist problems. Any socialist country will be attacked by our system.
From Miles Hutchinson
Sunday, 17 March 2013
Last time there was any form of popular protest against Chavez, in April 2002, and hundreds of thousands of people marched on his palace to demand his resignation, 19 people were killed, picked off by snipers, never identified or brought to justice. Chavez learnt his lesson and since that time had control of the army, the government, the legislature, the judiciary, and, with regard to the point above about election results, the media.
I would personally feel uncomfortable lauding anyone, left, right or centre, with such a profoundly anti-democratic record, particularly so from a part of the world where, for all its ills, we enjoy comparative democratic freedom.
We seem to expect this kind of oppression from the right but not from the left, who are of course in reality equally prone to it. There's an irony of course when the oppression is driven by a left-leaning leader, and it was this irony that prompted Orwell to write Animal Farm, as he grew increasingly frustrated with the UK left's support for Stalin. I think the novel's message probably has some relevance with regard to element's of Chavez's rule.
I appreciate I'm unlikely to change anyone's mind. My point is, we're free to disagree.
From Mick Piggott
Thursday, 21 March 2013
Miles Hutchinson says,
‘I suggest that anyone who's interested checks out the Transparency International website, which assesses countries for things such as the degree of judicial independence, the degree of public sector corruption, degree of press freedom, & so forth. On all of these measures (all from reputable global bodies) Venezuela scores extremely poorly.’
I did so, and Mr Hutchinson is right that according to Transparency International, Venezuela scores badly by TI’s assessment. However, I also found out that TI is funded by Enron, Elf, Lockheed and many other big international corporations, including the perpetrators of the monstrous Bophal disaster, so I began to wonder about the organisation’s impartiality. Further, there is actual evidence of bias and links to Venezuela’s rightwing opposition!
When questioned about their apparently biased report on Venezuela, TI initially claimed that information was not available at the time of publication—a claim which was false—and then refused to answer further questions about the matter.
The data in TI's report was gathered by Mercedes de Freitas, the head of their Caracas bureau and a longtime opponent of President Hugo Chávez. De Freitas' previous job was running a US government funded opposition "civil society" group, the Fundacion Momento de la Gente, which is subsidized by National Endowment for Democracy, a US government agency. And you should check out the role of this malevolent agency, especially in 20th-century Latin American history!
According to a blog entry posted in Comment is Free (Yes, the online propaganda column of that notorious leftwing organisation, The Guardian!), ‘TI's Venezuela bureau is staffed by opponents of the Venezuelan government. The directors include Robert Bottome, the publisher of Veneconomia, a strident opposition journal, and Aurelio Concheso of the Centre for the Dissemination of Economic Knowledge, a conservative think tank funded by the US government. Concheso was previously a director of the employers' organisation, Fedecamaras. The president of Fedecamaras, Pedro Carmona, led the failed 2002 coup and was briefly installed as Venezuela's dictator.’ Incontrovertible facts, I believe.
Mr Hutchinson also claims:
‘Last time there was any form of popular protest against Chavez, in April 2002, and hundreds of thousands of people (actually, several thousands of middle-class ie rich people - MP) marched on his palace to demand his resignation, 19 people were killed, picked off by snipers, never identified or brought to justice.’ (This incident provided the pretext for the rightwing coup against Chavez that immediately followed.)
The reason the snipers were never identified or brought to justice is that when hundreds of thousands of working class people, supporters of Chavez, poured down from the barrios to demand the release of Chavez soon after the US-supported coup, the gunmen fled abroad - mostly to join their far-right sympathisers from Cuba in Miami!
If readers wish to get a truer picture of the events, they only have to watch the documentary by John Pilger, ‘The War on Democracy’, available on YouTube.
When Mr Hutchinson says, ‘We seem to expect this kind of oppression from the right but not from the left, who are of course in reality equally prone to it‘, I would agree that any such repression is to be condemned, whatever political label you put on it. The question is, did the particular instance to which he refers take place as he says it did? If our readers are interested, I hope they will take the trouble to look a little deeper into the matter than Mr Hutchinson has so far.
I stand by my original assertion: Hugo Chavez put the interests of the poor first and foremost. He used his country’s oil wealth to improve their lot. And as our other correspondent has stated, the huge majorities he won in elections, judged free and fair by foreign observers, were the envy of the world’s other ‘democratic’ countries.
Instead, here in ‘free’ Britain, we have the government we have, which I would guess, from Mr Hutchinson’s expressed views, he would support. I’d love to be informed I’m wrong on that …