The Alliance of Progressive Labor deeply condoles with the citizens of Venezuela for the untimely demise last Tuesday of their beloved president, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias.
Hugo will be dearly and honestly missed by the millions of Venezuelan masses who, for the first time in their wretched lives, were given importance by their government than the local and foreign oligarchs, and were generously provided with social programs that they badly needed and richly deserved – new public housing, universal health and education programs, state-run food markets.
Therefore, he will be cherished by them for raising their dignity as human beings and their collective and national pride for having a leader who defiantly stand up to Yankee imperialism, especially during the Bush rightwing rule.
Hugo will be dearly and honestly missed by the multitudes of peoples, as well as their governments, in Latin America and the Caribbean, not so much for the economic lifelines he bestowed on them, but the shared self-esteem and hope-amid-adversity that they gained from the regional cooperation efforts (from Petrocaribe to ALBA to CELAC) that he tirelessly fostered, not unlike the sheer determination of his idol, Simon Bolivar, the 19th century icon who led much of South America to independence from colonialism.
Therefore, he will be cherished by them even without his bombastic and fiery rhetoric but more on the realization that he truly wanted to forge solidarity among the peoples in that hemisphere by mutually cleansing it of its painful and humiliating past as “banana republics” and uplifting it further by continuing their mutual rejection of the neoliberal plot, which, since the start of the 2000s about 15 governments – with various shades of Left orientations and programs – in 12 countries (excluding Cuba) have already been voted to power.
Hugo will be dearly and honestly missed even beyond Venezuela, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Peoples and social movements elsewhere that despise and fight neoliberalism will be inspired or at least will be reminded that there is still hope of winning even a seemingly losing battle against a global behemoth. Battles should be waged against poverty, injustice, domination anywhere in the world. Indeed, as he emphatically said, “I think the entire world has to be subverted.”
But Hugo will also be dearly appreciated for showing and admitting at least some of the frailties of his humanity and his ideology. When his government was faced by a succession of serious threats, especially a coup and a massive strike, he was forced to resort to draconian measures – a “frailty,” nonetheless – including the firing of thousands of state oil company workers.
Hugo Chavez will likewise be dearly valued and must be emulated for his courage in declaring his firm belief to socialism – however vague his so-called “21st-century socialism” is – and for his uprightness to acknowledge that this socialist path is “hard, long path, filled with doubts, filled with errors, filled with bitterness, but this is the path … socialism.”
Adios, hasta siempre, comandante…