Hugo Chavez, champion of the people

10 Mar

By Evan Zenobia and Qalina Tileli

OTTAWA—The people of Venezuela have lost their president. Hugo Chavez, 58, passed away on the 5th  of March, after a long battle with cancer.

Chavez was a tireless defender of the poor, whose presidency was marked by comprehensive campaigns aimed at eradicating poverty and illiteracy and expanding democracy in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.

So it’s no surprise that it was only moments after his body grew cold that Sun News and other notorious big-business liars media outlets carted out their most repugnant talking-heads to slander Chavez.

In Canada, Sun News unsurprisingly takes first prize in the contest for most outrageously libellous and hateful accusations against the late president. On the 6th  of March alone, Byline, the Arena, the Source and Charles Adler each devoted a segment to smearing Chavez, calling him a dictator and cheering for his death like all good pro-life conservatives do.

Here are just a few of the gems these odious propagandists churned out about the democratically-elected president who cut poverty in half and extreme poverty by 70 percent.

Chavez who crushed opposition, shut down newspapers, busted labour unions.” Ezra Levant, liar.

This is a glorious day that a horrible man like Chavez is now assuming room temperature.” Steven Crowder, “comedian,” “Christian,” racist and amateur union buster.

I’m sorry he didn’t take his good buddy Castro with him to hell.” Charles Adler, “Christian”

At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.” Stephen Harper, liar, mediaphobic politician.

It really says a lot about the priorities and real values of Canadian conservatives when they can’t restrain themselves from spewing the most dishonest and hateful bile about a man who never set foot in Canada. So, we’re going to dispel, one by the one, the slanderous myths conservatives have brewed up about Chavez, and expose the real roots of conservative hatred.

Hugo Chavez was a dictator

For a supposed dictator, Chavez was very democratic. He was elected president in four separate elections. To address the slander of vote-rigging, here’s what former US president Jimmy Carter said about Venezuela’s elections “[a]s a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” And, unlike Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, Chavez won each election with a majority of cast votes with very high voter turnout. All without robocalls or billionaires bankrolling him.

What’s more, Venezuela, under Chavez’s leadership, expanded democracy. Democracy in Venezuela is more than voting for professional politicians to squabble for four years. Chavez initiated a program of community councils and co-operatives, where people come together to make decisions affecting their community collectively at a truly grassroots level. Meanwhile, the Chavez government has actively encouraged high voter participation. Venezuelan democracy, then, is truly “rule by the people.”

Hugo Chavez repressed dissent

No, he didn’t. Unlike your standard dictator, who jails journalists, intellectuals, teachers and artists, Chavez did no such thing. Only five to eight percent of the country’s audience tuned into Venezuelan state TV (Still better than Sun News!). That means 92 to 95 percent of the country’s TV, and the bulk of its print and radio media as well, was fully independent from the government. But of course, conservatives consider letting the KKK march a litmus test for freedom.

Unlike the Harper government, there was no systematic attempt to silence scientists, and government officials actually spoke to the media!

Hugo Chavez has impoverished Venezuela in socialism!

Actually, the Chavez administration dramatically reduced misery. Chavez reduced poverty by half, and extreme poverty by 70 percent. Meanwhile, Chavez has also expanded access to health care end education for the country’s poor, mobilizing the country’s natural resources—once the private domain of multinational corporations and the country’s sell-out billionaire elite—to fund eradication of poverty. While poverty continues to exist, the socialism of the twentieth century reversed the spiralling economic devastation of pre-Chavez administration, and can only be considered a profound success in the fight against inequality and for social justice.

Hugo Chavez was an enemy of the United States

True, because the United States made themselves an enemy of him. In 2002, the US backed a coup d’état against Chavez, which was reversed by mass protests and mobilization in his defence. Meanwhile, US public figures and talking heads threw vitriolic attacks against the Venezuelan president, including Evangelical “Christian” Pat Robertson’s call to have him killed.

The Chavez administration nationalized foreign-owned petro projects in Venezuela and firmly took control of the nation’s oil and other resources. Using the oil wealth to fund democratic and anti-poverty projects, Chavez enraged the traditional elites and their US-based puppet masters. Chavez’s confrontation with the United States grew from governance in the interest of his country’s poor. What’s more, the Venezuelan government also provided free fuel to tens of thousands of low-income American families along with needy people all over the world.  Imagine that, governing for the people and not greasing the palms of the wealthy!

Chavez called Bush the Devil

Also true, and not necessarily ridiculous. Bush was a man who cheated his way into the presidency, lied to his country and the world so that he could bomb Iraqis and steal their oil. I don’t think that seems very illustrative of Christian virtue.


Conservatives don’t hate Chavez because of any passion for democracy. Conservatives hate democracy. The Sun News Network star pundit Michael Coren defended the jailing of Russian dissidents by the vicious Putin regime. Bush gained the presidency after losing the popular vote, and Stephen Harper prorogued parliament to prevent the elected representatives of the majority of voters from forming a government.

Conservatives hate Chavez because he challenged their vision and their values. Rather than selling out and subordinating his country to neo-colonialism and his people to exploitation, his government uplifted and empowered the masses of the poor. Rather than acting as a puppet for the ultra-rich, he invested in programs to combat poverty.

And it worked!

Chavez’s presidency is proof that a government can invest in common people rather than in billionaires, that fighting poverty is not futile and that the people, truly empowered, will not tolerate assaults against their rights, equality or freedom.



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