Hugo Chavez, R.I.P. - Leader Broke Venezuela Out of America's Imperial Orbit, Threw Neoliberal 'Economics' in the Trash
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And I think you have enormous problems that are there. There are shortages of basic goods. There is the highest inflation rate in Latin America. Crime is off the charts. If you look at the crime rate when he came in versus the crime rate today, there’s tremendous insecurity. Caracas is one of the most crime-ridden cities in the world today. So, this is not a government that I think has been very competent and very effective. And I think it’s a product of the fact that he is somebody who believed that he represents the general will of Venezuelan people. He is a legitimate president, there’s no question about that, but you also need to, I think, bring in other sectors of the society, and he was a very polarizing figure. So I think he deserves credit. I think his legacy is a mixed one. But I think, in the end, this will be seen as a great opportunity for Venezuela that was squandered in the end.
AMY GOODMAN: Eva Golinger, your response?
EVA GOLINGER: Well, I think that at least Michael Shifter recognized Chávez’s legacy in terms of changing the lives of Venezuelans, and particularly the poor, but I strongly disagree with the assessment of the fact that he didn’t build, one, a sustainable model, two, an alternative, viable alternative, for the country and for the region, because, before as Greg was saying, Chávez opened the door, opened a pathway, began that pathway and took that road to transforming Latin America forever. I mean, Venezuela has been transformed forever.
Talking about the level of participation, today in Venezuela more Venezuelans participate than ever before in history. Everyone has a voice. Everyone wants to be active and involved. Before Chávez came into power—and I lived there during that time—it was a country full of apathy, full of apathy, full of exclusion, people who didn’t even care about participating because their participation meant nothing. That’s changed 100 percent and will never reverse its course.
At the same time, much has been focused on Chávez the man, Chávez Chávez, because he was an all-encompassing figure, he was larger than life. You know, he had this enormous personality and tremendous charisma. But at the same time, the vision that he had and that he began to implement collectively along with the people of Venezuela was about power to the people. And I think there’s no question that that has taken root in the country today. And we’ve seen it: Even after Chávez was elected in October and then was diagnosed again that the cancer had returned, and he was unable to participate in elections that followed after that for governors, for regional elections, nonetheless—he didn’t appear in one campaign event—his party won in 20 out of 23 states in the country. I mean, it was a clear showing of the leadership that was growing within the ranks of his party. At the same time, we’ve seen, you know, people are pouring into the streets of Venezuela, and have been throughout this time period, saying, "I am Chávez." And that doesn’t just mean, you know, "I love Chávez." It means "Chávez represented me, represented my family, my community, my interests."
And I think that today what we’re seeing in Venezuela, through these communal councils, through all this popular participation, is a collective leadership that has grown. And I think that in the end, that was Chávez’s overall objective, how to transfer that power into the hands of the people, empower the people so that they feel they have the capacity to govern their nation. And I think that that has unquestionably happened in Venezuela, and that’s one of the strongest elements of Chávez’s legacy.