Re: Venezuela ponders life after Chavez, Gwynne Dyer, Red Deer Advocate, March 11.
In general, the media coverage of the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been as hypocritical and biased as it was when he was alive. It is a ubiquitous, one-sidedness that extends from the petty, spiteful newspaper articles; of obvious opposition figures; to the high plateau of that most British of institutions, the BBC.
The Life after Chavez article by Gwynne Dyer is in a different category: it is one of the most thought out articles to be found, balanced, with opinions that appear to be honestly given.
Although Dyer thinks that Chavez was unnecessarily combative and polarizing, he points out the fact that Chavez achieved much of what he set out to do. Indeed, the major success of Chavez was the diversion of a part of the oil wealth from the coffers of the multinational companies to the pockets of ordinary working Venezuelans, transforming their lives.
The Chavez government has reduced poverty by half and reduced extreme poverty by 70 per cent, and millions now have health care for the first time. College enrolment has doubled and illiteracy has been eliminated, this fact has been recognized by UNESCO. The number of seniors receiving old age pension has doubled. Thousands of affordable houses have been built to a high standard for workers and the poor.
Gwynne correctly says, “What made it possible was not ‘socialism’ but Venezuela’s big oil reserves.”
The problems experienced in Venezuela including high inflation, crime, dislocations and shortages of food are not the result of socialism, which does not yet exist. They are not the result of poor administration or the nationalizations that have been carried out, but on the contrary from the economic sabotage of big business.
Big corporations still control the commanding heights of the economy and despite much false information, which would suggest the opposite, they control most of the media.
Although Chavez was accused of ranting about the class struggle, the rich oligarchy was and is busy practising it. Despite the electoral successes of the Chavez government, the Venezuelan economy is still controlled by the rich.
The economic problems stem not from the fact that the Bolivarian Movement has moved too far or too fast toward socialism, no just the opposite, it has not moved far enough or fast enough.
It is a serious miscalculation, however, to think that the loss of a general election by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela would not be a tragedy. The economic gains of the workers and poor would be rolled back in an instant, orchestrated by the CIA at the behest of international oil companies. It would mean a return to the same poverty for the mass of the people that existed before the election of Chavez.
If the Venezuelan people do not take control of the commanding heights of the economy by nationalizing the banks and the monopolies under workers’ control and management in a democratic planned socialist economy, they will continue to be plagued by the threat of the return of the bad old days of hardship and exploitation.
Keith Norman Wyatt