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Hugo Chavez, R.I.P. - Leader Broke Venezuela Out of America's Imperial Orbit, Threw Neoliberal 'Economics' in the Trash

Hate crimes against perceived Muslims, which jumped 50% in 2010 largely as a result of anti-Muslim propagandizing, remained at relatively high levels for a second year in 2011, according to the FBI’s new national hate crime statistics.

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And so, that movement of people that Nicolás Maduro was a part of, he was then a member of parliament. He later became the head of parliament, of Venezuela’s National Assembly, president of the assembly. Chávez named him foreign minister in 2006, and he continued in that movement in that position. He was ridiculed nonstop by Venezuelan media, internationally, by the opposition, saying, you know, "Oh, he’s a bus driver. You know, he knows nothing. He has no education. How could he be the top diplomat of the country?" But he became, I think, one of Venezuela’s best foreign ministers that they’ve ever had. I mean, he has led all kinds of treaties and agreements that Venezuela has entered into with countries throughout the world that have benefited Venezuela substantially. You know, most of Venezuelan foreign policy is now based on integration, cooperation and mutual benefit, transfer of technology. I mean, no longer it’s about just what can we get from the other guy.

And so, Nicolás has then become the most intimate adviser of the president, by his side, especially throughout this very difficult period. He was the one who was always with Chávez while he was undergoing his treatments in Cuba, and he was the one that clearly came through as the person with the most capacity to unify Chavismo and to carry on those policies. And I would definitely say that he certainly maintains a very radical and profound leftist position and wholeheartedly will carry on the movement led by Chávez.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Gregory Wilpert, I wanted to ask you about the role of the Venezuelan media, both in opposition to Chávez all this time, especially its role in Venezuelan society, because he’s often been criticized as attempting to muzzle the media.

GREGORY WILPERT: Right. Well, you know, that’s one of the things that constantly critics point out to, is that the media is somehow being repressed in Venezuela. But if you turn on the TV or look at the newspapers, you see constant diatribes and constant criticisms and raising of problems that exist in Venezuela. And so, I mean, it’s very difficult to reconcile that with this claim that there’s some kind of repression against the private media.

The other thing is, people say that Chávez created all these other media outlets that are completely swamping their airwaves, but that’s not true. It’s true that there are many new media outlets, but they only actually get a very small percentage of the viewership. And so, the private media actually still predominates in Venezuela, despite what—the impression that people get from what’s going on. And so—but there’s a much greater diversity of opinions and of freedom of speech, really, because you also have tons of community media. So there’s an incredible amount of debate going on in Venezuela.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to continue this discussion. There will be a seven-day period of mourning. President Hugo Chávez will be buried on Friday. That’s when his funeral will be. That does it for our show, and I want to thank all of our guests: Gregory Wilpert, founder of; Eva Golinger, friend and adviser to President Hugo Chávez, author of  The Chávez Code ; Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California; Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington; and Greg Grandin, currently Cullman fellow at the New York Public Library. You can go to our website at for  complete coverage of Hugo Chávez with our exclusive interviews of both Chávez and Maduro. That’s

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