An anthology of articles on Hugo Chavez, perhaps the greatest leftist of our times

(1) Chavez Renewed Latin America and Revived Socialism | The Progressive

By Roger Burbach

Hugo Chavez cut a wide swath on the international scene, more than that of any other leader in the recent history of Latin America, putting forth a vision of a world based on equitable relations among nations and peoples.

His rise to hemispheric prominence began at the third Summit of the Americas in April 2001 in Quebec, Canada, when the newly inaugurated George W. Bush attempted to ram through the Free Trade Area of the Americas that was to extend from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego in South America.

It was there that I first saw Chavez, whose warm and charismatic persona stood in sharp contrast to Bush’s smug and arrogant demeanor. Of the thirty-four hemispheric heads of state in attendance, only Chavez refused to agree to the summit’s declaration calling for the implementation of the free trade zone by 2005. Chavez stance concurred with that of over 50,000 demonstrators in Ottawa who were protesting the devastating impact of free trade agreements and the economic policy that under-girded them, neoliberalism.

Not content to simply oppose U.S. free trade policies and neoliberalism, Chavez at a meeting of Caribbean nations later in the year called for the ?economic, social, political and cultural integration of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.? Then in 2004 Venezuela and Cuba set up ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas, to encourage ‘fair trade’ not free trade. Bolivia joined in 2006 and later Nicaragua, Ecuador and five Caribbean countries. ALBA’s objective is almost diametrically opposed to the free trade agreements, aiming instead to promote trade on the principle of solidarity instead of competition?a state-centered instead of a neoliberal approach toward integration.

The exchange of Cuban medical personnel for Venezuelan oil is just one early example of the type of agreement reached under ALBA. Cuba and Venezuela have also collaborated under ALBA to provide literacy training to the peoples of other ALBA member countries, such as Bolivia. The key concept is to trade and exchange resources in those areas where each country has complementary strengths and to do so on the basis of fairness, rather than market-determined prices.

Today ALBA is a significant economic actor in the Caribbean basin. Through ALBA, member nations have created so-called empresas grannacionales (?supranational enterprises?) for the production of medicines and food. In contrast to transnational corporate projects these enterprises are based on serving a social need, rather than merely making a profit. The continental TV station Telesur and the regional oil company Petrocaribe are examples of supranational projects.

ALBA also has a bank ? with a start-up capital of 1 percent of the member countries? monetary reserves? that provides low-interest loans for agricultural and industrial development in member countries.

And ALBA has been a significant force in hemispheric politics. When the hemispheric leaders met again in 2005 at the fourth Summit of the Americas at Mar del Plata, Argentina with George W. Bush once again in attendance, the ALBA nations combined with Presidents Nestor Kirchner of Argentina and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, dealt a death blow to the U.S. hopes to setting up the Free Trade Area of the Americas..

The culmination of Chavez’s dreams for a continent free from US tutelage came in December, 2011 at an historic conclave in Caracas, Venezuela, There all the countries of the hemispheric, excluding the United States and Canada, agreed to set up CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a direct challenge to the US-promoted Organization of American States, which had dominated hemispheric affairs for decades. CELAC envisions the eventual political and economic integration of the region, and adopted a wide-ranging and detailed Plan of Action that set the goals of establishing preferential trade tariffs, collaborating in energy and environmental projects, and ending illiteracy in every country in three years.

Perhaps Chavez’ greatest international legacy is the revival of socialism. He more than any other figure is identified with the concept of ?twenty-first-century socialism.? On January 30, 2005, he addressed the fifth annual gathering of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. I was among a crowd of 15,000 at the Gigantinho stadium, as Chavez proclaimed: ?It is impossible within the framework of the capitalist system to solve the grave problems of poverty of the majority of the world?s population. We must transcend capitalism. But we cannot resort to state capitalism, which would be the same perversion as the Soviet Union. We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, a project, and a path ? a new type of socialism, a humanist one, that puts humans and not machines or the state ahead of everything.?

Chavez?s call to construct a new socialism for the twenty-first century marked a turning point in progressive history. Before that moment, even sectors of the left believed that the collapse of the Soviet Union had heralded the death of socialism. Yet here was a president willing to reclaim the word ?socialism,? placing it back on the public agenda.

Moreover, these were not just the words and aspirations of a single figure; Chavez captured the growing anti-capitalist consciousness of a popular democratic movement that was directly challenging neoliberalism and U.S. hegemony in the region. Socialism could be achieved with ?democracy,? insisted Chavez, ?but not the type of democracy being imposed from Washington.?

During the past eight years, Chavez and the Venezuelan nation have gone far to implant socialism in their country. In late 2005 Chavez began called on citizens to form communal councils. The Law of Communal Councils defined these councils as ?instances for participation, articulation, and integration between the diverse community-based organizations, social groups and citizens, that allow the organized people to directly exercise the management of public policies and projects.?

To date over 40,000 communal councils have been formed. Cooperatives are also a major form of constructing socialism from below. Many factories are now administered by workers councils, particularly in the steel, aluminum and bauxite industries. Food distribution centers are controlled by the workers.

The road to socialism, however is fraught with difficulties, as shortages and inflation have gripped the economy. Even Chavez acknowledged in his final days that Venezuela had by no means achieved a socialist utopia.

In spite of these problems, and contrary to the opinion of critics who decry his ?authoritarian rule,? Hugo Chavez has left behind a political, social and economic edifice that is capable of carrying the revolution forward. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, is a capable leader of a trade union background who served as foreign minister until becoming vice-president. He will surprise people, as did Chavez, with his ability to lead Venezuela and to carry forth the struggle for democratic socialism and a better world.

http://www.progressive.org/chavez-renewed-latin-america

(2) Chavez built socialism with direct intervention by the people

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/53610

(3) Wikileaks Reveals US Fury at Chavez’s Legacy of Solidarity

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/53639

(3) AP: Chavez Wasted His Money on Healthcare When He Could Have Built Gigantic Skyscrapers
By Jim Naureckas

March 07, 2013 “Information Clearing House” — “FAIR” — One of the more bizarre takes on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death comes from Associated Press business reporter Pamela Sampson (3/5/13):

Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.

That’s right: Chavez squandered his nation’s oil money on healthcare, education and nutrition when he could have been building the world’s tallest building or his own branch of the Louvre. What kind of monster has priorities like that?
Venezuelan Poverty Rate

In case you’re curious about what kind of results this kooky agenda had, here’s a chart (NACLA, 10/8/12) based on World Bank poverty stats?showing the proportion of Venezuelans living on less than $2 a day falling from 35 percent to 13 percent over three years. (For comparison purposes, there’s a similar stat for Brazil, which made substantial but less dramatic progress against poverty over the same time period.)

Of course, during this time, the number of Venezuelans living in the world’s tallest building went from 0 percent to 0 percent, while the number of copies of the Mona Lisa remained flat, at none. So you have to say that Chavez’s presidency was overall pretty disappointing?at least by AP’s standards.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34212.htm

(4) Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chavez, mi Amigo
By Greg Palast, Vice Magazine
08 March 13

In 2005, Reverend Pat Robertson — channelling the frustration of George W Bush’s State Department — said, “Hugo Chavez thinks we’re trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

Despite Bush’s providing intelligence, funds and even a note of congratulations to the crew who kidnapped Chavez (we’ll get there), Hugo remained in office, re-elected and wildly popular.

But why the Bush regime’s hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela?

Reverend Pat wasn’t coy about the answer: It’s the oil.

“This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil.”

A really BIG pool of oil. Indeed, according to Guy Caruso, former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA, Venezuela hold a recoverable reserve of 1.36 trillion barrels — a whole lot more than Saudi Arabia.

If we didn’t kill Chavez, we’d have to do an “Iraq” on his nation. So the Reverend suggests, “We don’t need another $200 billion war… It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”

Chavez himself told me he was stunned by Bush’s attacks: Chavez had been quite chummy with Bush Senior and with Bill Clinton.

So what suddenly made Chavez “a dangerous enemy”? Just after Bush’s inauguration in 2001, Chavez’ congress voted in a new “Law of Hydrocarbons.” Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70 percent of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising towards $100 a barrel.

But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezeula’s prior government into giving them 84 percent of the sales price, a cut to 70 percent was “no bueno”. Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty — just one percent — on “heavy” crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they’d now have to pay 16.6 percent.

Clearly, Chavez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.

On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nation’s Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela — giving a whole new meaning to the term, “corporate takeover”.

US Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed “President” and the leaders of the coup d’état.

Bush’s White House spokesman admitted that Chavez was, “democratically elected”, but, he added, “Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters.” I see.

With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the Presidential Palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona, the Pretend President from Exxon, returned his captive Chavez back to his desk within 48 hours. (How? Get The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, the film, expanding on my reports for BBC Television. You can download it for free for the next few days.)

Chavez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. It’s what he did with that oil money that drove Venezuela’s One Percent to violence.

In Caracas, I ran into the reporter for a TV station whose owner is generally credited with plotting the coup against the president. While doing a publicity photo shoot, leaning back against a tree, showing her wide-open legs nearly up to where they met, the reporter pointed down the hill to the “ranchos”, the slums above Caracas, where shacks, once made of cardboard and tin, were quickly transforming into homes of cinder blocks and cement.

“He [Chavez] gives them bread and bricks, so they vote for him, of course.” She was disgusted by “them”, the 80 percent of Venezuelans who are negro e indio (Black and Indian) — and poor. Chavez, himself negro e indio, had, for the first time in Venezuela’s history, shifted the oil wealth from the privileged class that called themselves “Spanish”, to the dark-skinned masses.

While trolling around the poor housing blocks of Caracas, I ran into a local, Arturo Quiran, a merchant seaman and no big fan of Chavez. But over a beer at his kitchen table, he told me, “Fifteen years ago under [then-President] Carlos Andrés Pérez, there was a lot of oil money in Venezuela. The ?oil boom’, we called it. Here in Venezuela there was a lot of money, but we didn’t see it.”

But then came Hugo Chavez, and now the poor in his neighbourhood, he said, “get medical attention, free operations, X-rays, medicines; education also. People who never knew how to write now know how to sign their own papers.”

Chavez’ Robin Hood thing, shifting oil money from the rich to the poor, would have been grudgingly tolerated by the US. But Chavez, who told me, “We are no longer an oil colony,” went further… too much further, in the eyes of the American corporate elite.

Venezuela had landless citizens by the millions — and unused land by the millions of acres tied up, untilled, on which a tiny elite of plantation owners squatted. Chavez’ congress passed in a law in 2001 requiring untilled land to be sold to the landless. It was a programme long promised by Venezuela’s politicians at the urging of John F Kennedy as part of his “Alliance for Progress”.

Plantation owner Heinz Corporation didn’t like that one bit. In retaliation, Heinz closed its ketchup plant in the state of Maturin and fired all the workers. Chavez seized Heinz’ plant and put the workers back on the job. Chavez didn’t realise that he’d just squeezed the tomatoes of America’s powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz’ husband, Senator John Kerry, now US Secretary of State.

Or, knowing Chavez as I do, he didn’t give a damn.

Chavez could survive the ketchup coup, the Exxon “presidency”, even his taking back a piece of the windfall of oil company profits, but he dangerously tried the patience of America’s least forgiving billionaires: The Koch Brothers.

Elected presidents who annoy Big Oil have ended up in exile — or coffins: Mossadegh of Iran after he nationalised BP’s fields (1953), Elchibey, President of Azerbaijan, after he refused demands of BP for his Caspian fields (1993), President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador after he terminated Occidental’s drilling concession (2005).

“It’s a chess game, Mr. Palast,” Chavez told me. He was showing me a very long, and very sharp sword once owned by Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator. “And I am,” Chavez said, “a very good chess player.”

In the film The Seventh Seal, a medieval knight bets his life on a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Death cheats, of course, and takes the knight. No mortal can indefinitely outplay Death who, last night, checkmated the new Bolivar of Venezuela.

But in one last move, the Bolivarian grandmaster played a brilliant endgame, naming Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, as good and decent a man as they come, as heir to the fight for those in the “ranchos”. The One Percent of Venezuela, planning on Chavez’s death to return them the power and riches they couldn’t win in an election, are livid with the choice of Maduro.

Chavez sent Maduro to meet me in my downtown New York office back in 2004. In our run-down detective digs on Second Avenue, Maduro and I traded information on assassination plots and oil policy.

Even then, Chavez was carefully preparing for the day when Venezuela’s negros e indios would lose their king — but still stay in the game.

Class war on a chessboard. Even in death, I wouldn’t bet against Hugo Chavez.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/16380-focus-vaya-con-dios-hugo-chavez-mi-amigo

(5) US plots conquest of Venezuela after Chavez’s death

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34201.htm

(6) In loving memory of Hugo Chavez

http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/2013/03/in-loving-memory-hugo-chavez-fr
ias-1954.html

(7) Don’t believe media lies about Hugo Chavez

http://www.alternet.org/print/world/dont-believe-media-lies-about-hugo-chavez-venezuelan-leader-was-beloved-home-reducing-extreme

(8) Hugo Chavez, Dreammaker (by Eva Golinger)

By Eva Golinger
www.chavezcode.com
March 6, 2013

Most of what you read or hear in mass media about President Hugo Chavez is always negative, his faults exaggerated, his discourse distorted and his achievements ignored. The reality is quite different.

Hugo Chavez was beloved by millions around the world. He changed the course of a continent and led a collective awakening of a people once silenced, once exploited and ignored. Chavez was a grandiose visionary and a maker of dreams.

An honest man from a humble background who lived in a mud hut as a child and sold candies on the streets to make money for his family, Chavez dreamed of building a strong, sovereign nation, independent of foreign influence and dignified on the world scene. He dreamed of improving the lives of his people, of eradicating the misery of poverty and of offering everyone the chance of a better life ? the ?good life? (el buenvivir), as he called it.

President Chavez made those dreams come true. During his nearly fourteen years of governance, elected to three full six-year terms but only serving two due to his untimely death, Chavez?s policies reduced extreme poverty in Venezuela by more than 75%, from 25% to less than 7% in a decade. Overall poverty was reduced by more than 50%, from 60% in 1998 when Chavez first won office to 27% by 2008. This is not just numbers, this translates into profound changes in the lives of millions of Venezuelans who today eat three meals a day, own their homes and have jobs or access to financial aid.

But the dreams don?t stop there. Chavez dreamt of a nation filled with educated, healthy people, and so he established free, quality public education from preschool through doctoral studies, accessible to all. In fact, for those in remote areas or places without educational facilities, schools were built and mobile educational facilities were created to bring education to the people. Chavez also created a national public health system offering universal, free health care to all, with the help and solidarity of Cuba, which sent thousands of doctors and medical workers to provide quality services to the Venezuelan people, many who had never received medical care in their lives.

To strengthen and empower communities, Chavez propelled policies of inclusion and participatory governance, giving voice to those previously excluded from politics. He created grassroots community councils and networks to attend to local needs in neighborhoods across the nation, placing the power to govern in the joint hands of community groups. His vision of diversifying his nation and developing its full potential transformed into railways, new industries, satellite cities and innovative transport, such as MetroCable Cars soaring high into the mountains of Caracas to connect people with their steep hillside homes and the bustling city.

The centuries-old dream of Independence hero Simon Bolivar to build a unified ?Patria Grande? (Grand Homeland) in South America became Chavez?s guiding light and he held it high, illuminating the path he paved. Chavez was a driving force in unifying Latin America, creating new regional organizations like the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). These entities have embraced integration, cooperation and solidarity as their principal method of exchange, rejecting competition, exploitation and domination, the main principles of US and western foreign policy.

Chavez inspired a twenty-first century world to fight for justice, to stand with dignity before bullying powers that seek to impose their will on others. He raised his voice when no others would and had no fear of consequence, because he knew that truth was on his side.

Chavez was a maker of dreams. He recognized the rights of the disabled, of indigenous peoples, all genders and sexualities. He broke down barriers of racism and classism and declared himself a socialist feminist. He not only made his own dreams come true, but he inspired us all to achieve our fullest potential.

Don?t get me wrong, things are not perfect in Venezuela by any stretch, but no one can honestly deny that they are much better than before Hugo Chavez became President. And no one could deny that President Hugo Chavez was larger than life.

The first time I flew on President Chavez?s airplane he invited me to breakfast in his private room. It was just me and him. I was nervous and felt anxious and rushed to tell him about the results of my investigations into the United States government role in the coup d?etat against him in 2002. After all, that?s why I was on the plane in the first place. I had been invited to participate in his regular Sunday television show, Alo Presidente (Hello Mr. President) to present the hundreds of declassified documents I had obtained from US government agencies through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that exposed US funding of coup participants. The date was April 11, 2004, exactly two years after the coup that nearly killed him and sent the nation into spiraling chaos.

As I began pulling out papers and spreading documents on the table that separated us, he stopped me. ?Have you had breakfast yet?, he asked. ?No?, I said, and continued fiddling with the revealing paper before me. ?We can discuss that later?, he said, ?for now, tell me about yourself?. ?How is your mother?, he asked me, as though we were old friends.

A flight attendant came through the door of his private room with two trays and placed them on the table. I quickly gathered up the documents. ?Let?s eat?, he said. I started to protest, trying to explain that his time was so limited I wanted to take advantage of every minute. He stopped me and said, ?This is a humble breakfast, a breakfast from the barracks, what I most love?. I looked at the tray for the first time. On it was a small plate with an arepa, a typical Venezuelan corn patty, a few shreads of white cheese, a couple of pieces of canteloupe and some anchovies. Beside the plate was a small cup of black coffee. No frills and not what you would expect on a presidential airplane.

?After all, I am just a soldier?, he added. Yes, Chavez, you are a soldier, a glorious soldier of a dignified, proud and kind people. And you are a maker of dreams for millions around the world.

***

(9) Obama’s atrocious statement about Chavez’s death

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34192.htm

(10) New World Rising, by Glen Ford

http://blackagendareport.com/content/hugo-chavez-new-world-rising

(11) Chavez kept his promises to the people of Venezuela

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/283-103/16345-hugo-chavez-kept-his-promise-to-the-people-of-venezuela

(12) Hugo Chavez, Undefeated

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/53535

(13) Did the CIA poison Hugo Chavez?

https://webmail.east.cox.net/do/mail/message/view?msgId=INBOXDELIM281069

(14) Polls suggest another Chavista win

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/53602

(15) While he did many things wrong, he had a heart larger than life

http://blogdaboitempo.com.br/2013/03/11/a-heart-larger-than-life/

(16) Hugo Chavez’s audacious challenge to western power

http://rabble.ca/columnists/2013/03/hugo-chavezs-audacious-challenge-western-power

(17) The CIA killed chavez

http://www.metwoyou.co.uk/index.php?note=1516

(18) Chavez and major league baseball

http://www.thenation.com/blog/173233/why-major-league-baseball-owners-will-cheer-death-hugo-chavez

(19) What Chavez left behind

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/11/what-chavez-left-behind/

(20) Chavez was a democrat, not a dictator

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/hugo-chavez-was-a-democrat-not-a-dictator-and-showed-a-progressive-alternative-to-neoliberalism-is-both-possible-and-popular-8522329.html

(21) 50 Truths about Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution
By Salim Lamrani – Opera Mundi, March 9th 2013

1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.

2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.

3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela’s electoral system was “the best in the world.”

4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.

5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.

6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.

7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.

8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.

9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.

10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.

11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011.

12. The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.

13. Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.

14. Thanks to Operation Miracle, launched in 2004, 1.5 million Venezuelans who were victims of cataracts or other eye diseases, regained their sight.

15. From 1999 to 2011, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 16.6% in 1999 to 7% in 2011.

16. In the rankings of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), Venezuela jumped from 83 in 2000 (0.656) at position 73 in 2011 (0.735), and entered into the category Nations with ‘High HDI’.

17. The GINI coefficient, which allows calculation of inequality in a country, fell from 0.46 in 1999 to 0.39 in 2011.

18. According to the UNDP, Venezuela holds the lowest recorded Gini coefficient in Latin America, that is, Venezuela is the country in the region with the least inequality.

19. Child malnutrition was reduced by 40% since 1999.

20. In 1999, 82% of the population had access to safe drinking water. Now it is 95%.

21. Under President Chavez social expenditures increased by 60.6%.

22. Before 1999, only 387,000 elderly people received a pension. Now the figure is 2.1 million.

23. Since 1999, 700,000 homes have been built in Venezuela.

24. Since 1999, the government provided / returned more than one million hectares of land to Aboriginal people.

25. Land reform enabled tens of thousands of farmers to own their land. In total, Venezuela distributed more than 3 million hectares.

26. In 1999, Venezuela was producing 51% of food consumed. In 2012, production was 71%, while food consumption increased by 81% since 1999. If consumption of 2012 was similar to that of 1999, Venezuela produced 140% of the food it consumed.

27. Since 1999, the average calories consumed by Venezuelans increased by 50% thanks to the Food Mission that created a chain of 22,000 food stores (MERCAL, Houses Food, Red PDVAL), where products are subsidized up to 30%. Meat consumption increased by 75% since 1999.

28. Five million children now receive free meals through the School Feeding Programme. The figure was 250,000 in 1999.

29. The malnutrition rate fell from 21% in 1998 to less than 3% in 2012.

30. According to the FAO, Venezuela is the most advanced country in Latin America and the Caribbean in the erradication of hunger.

31. The nationalization of the oil company PDVSA in 2003 allowed Venezuela to regain its energy sovereignty.

32. The nationalization of the electrical and telecommunications sectors (CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas) allowed the end of private monopolies and guaranteed universal access to these services.

33. Since 1999, more than 50,000 cooperatives have been created in all sectors of the economy.

34. The unemployment rate fell from 15.2% in 1998 to 6.4% in 2012, with the creation of more than 4 million jobs.

35. The minimum wage increased from 100 bolivars/month ($ 16) in 1998 to 2047.52 bolivars ($ 330) in 2012, ie an increase of over 2,000%. This is the highest minimum wage in Latin America.

36. In 1999, 65% of the workforce earned the minimum wage. In 2012 only 21.1% of workers have only this level of pay.

37. Adults at a certain age who have never worked still get an income equivalent to 60% of the minimum wage.

38. Women without income and disabled people receive a pension equivalent to 80% of the minimum wage.

39. Working hours were reduced to 6 hours a day and 36 hours per week, without loss of pay.

40. Public debt fell from 45% of GDP in 1998 to 20% in 2011. Venezuela withdrew from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, after early repayment of all its debts.

41. In 2012, the growth rate was 5.5% in Venezuela, one of the highest in the world.

42. GDP per capita rose from $ 4,100 in 1999 to $ 10,810 in 2011.

43. According to the annual World Happiness 2012, Venezuela is the second happiest country in Latin America, behind Costa Rica, and the nineteenth worldwide, ahead of Germany and Spain.

44. Venezuela offers more direct support to the American continent than the United States. In 2007, Chávez spent more than 8,800 million dollars in grants, loans and energy aid as against 3,000 million from the Bush administration.

45. For the first time in its history, Venezuela has its own satellites (Bolivar and Miranda) and is now sovereign in the field of space technology. The entire country has internet and telecommunications coverage.

46. The creation of Petrocaribe in 2005 allows 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, or 90 million people, secure energy supply, by oil subsidies of between 40% to 60%.

47. Venezuela also provides assistance to disadvantaged communities in the United States by providing fuel at subsidized rates.

48. The creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004 between Cuba and Venezuela laid the foundations of an inclusive alliance based on cooperation and reciprocity. It now comprises eight member countries which places the human being in the center of the social project, with the aim of combating poverty and social exclusion.

49. Hugo Chavez was at the heart of the creation in 2011 of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which brings together for the first time the 33 nations of the region, emancipated from the tutelage of the United States and Canada.

50. Hugo Chavez played a key role in the peace process in Colombia. According to President Juan Manuel Santos, “if we go into a solid peace project, with clear and concrete progress, progress achieved ever before with the FARC, is also due to the dedication and commitment of Chavez and the government of Venezuela.”

Translation by Tim Anderson

(22) Venezuela after Chavez

http://jacobinmag.com/2013/03/venezuela-after-chavez/

(23) Richard Seymour: RIP Chavez

http://www.leninology.com/2013/03/rip-chavez.html

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