March 2013        

The passing of a hero

The Communist Party of Ireland learnt of the death of Hugo Chávez with great sadness. The passing of this hero of the Venezuelan people is a serious blow to all the peoples who are struggling for genuine independence and social justice throughout Latin America and the world.
      His policies lifted millions of working people out of poverty, providing shelter, food, health and education, long denied to the majority, from the vast wealth of Venezuela.
      The Bolivarian Revolution, as the process of change is called, has brought great benefits to working people. Health services were brought into the poor districts by Cuban doctors, where Venezuelan doctors had never gone. Now a new generation of doctors, from many countries, are being trained in Venezuela, as they are in Cuba. Illiteracy has been eliminated and educational opportunities, up to university level, opened up to the formerly excluded. A new housing programme has provided thousands of new homes. Unemployment and poverty have been vastly reduced.
      Effective state control was established first over the oil company, which, though owned by the state, was run for the benefit of a few. The steel industry, which had been privatised, has been nationalised, as has the Bank of Venezuela and numerous other enterprises. A new labour law has greatly enhanced the rights of workers. Workers show a new confidence and class-consciousness.
      Venezuela was governed by a cabal of bourgeois politicians who profited from their subservience to US imperialism, who imposed massive austerity on the people in 1989 and massacred thousands when they resisted.
      The popular rejection of this regime was headed by Hugo Chávez, an army officer who led a revolt of patriotic soldiers in 1992. In 1998 he was elected president and immediately began the transformation of Venezuela. A constituent assembly prepared a new constitution, consolidating the people’s victory and developing a democracy that would be “participatory and protagonist.”
      The Venezuelan business class, with the help of the US government, determined to remove this upstart. They hated his policies; they disliked his mixed race; they despised his country accent and his country manners. They called themselves “civil society”—as opposed to the uncivil society of the masses.
      The coup d’état in 2002 was modelled on the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. The businessmen’s organisation, with senior army officers and right-wing trade union leaders, on the excuse of destabilisation (of their own making), briefly seized power and held the president prisoner.
      The mobilisation of the people against the coup was on a scale unprecedented in history. Millions of people took to the streets; the lower ranks of the army took control of the barracks; the coup was ignominiously defeated, and President Chávez returned in triumph.
      The hatred of the rich for Chávez has not subsided, and in fact they are now celebrating. The press and television they control spew out a constant stream of propaganda against him and his government. This is taken up by the majority of the world press. Though Chávez and his supporters have won fourteen successive elections, he is branded a “dictator.”
      The common people take a different view. With his leadership they woke up to their power and refused to be ruled any more by foreign powers and their local allies. The Bolivarian Revolution has asserted the independence of Venezuela; it has broken the isolation of Cuba; it has rallied a continent; and, most importantly, it has put socialism back on the agenda. Nobody contributed more to this than Hugo Chávez.
      Hugo Chávez has left us a great legacy of indomitable courage, of commitment to the cause of humanity, of untiring struggle against imperialist oppression. A great comrade. A hero of our time.
      The Communist Party of Ireland expresses its deepest condolences to Nicolás Maduro and the government of Venezuela, to the people of Venezuela, and most especially to the family of Hugo Chávez.

RTE lets the mask slip

On 6 March RTE had an item on the death of Hugo Chávez on its web site. It included the following gem but later edited it out—just a glimpse of what their ideological attitude really is when the mask slips.
      “Chávez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programmes including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programmes. But those gains were meagre 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.”

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