Chavez was no dictator
I was disappointed but not surprised to read The Nation's editorial on Monday basically demonising Hugo Chavez. It seems The Nation has joined the choir including The New York Times, Miami Herald and Washington Post in recreating Chavez as a bogeyman and danger to all that is good.
Your editorial writer failed to mention the United States-sponsored coup in 2003, which was foiled when nearly a million Venezuelans took to the streets demanding the return of Chavez from his jail cell. Chavez was returned and the coup leaders fled to safety in Miami. Additionally, the Christian fundamentalist preacher Pat Robertson, a favourite of Bush II, appeared on national television in the US calling for the murder of Chavez a few years after the attempted coup.
I would recommend readers to view the documentary "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", which covers the days before, during and after the coup in Venezuela. Also in the very recent past the US has backed coups in Honduras and Paraguay; backed an attempted coup in Bolivia; and who can forget the first 9/11, the coup and murder of Salvatore Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, on September 9, 1973?
The election of Chavez in 1999 followed a long process of organising among those left behind in society. We can say it started in 1989 when the IMF-World Bank-supported government removed all transportation subsidies for Venezuelan people. Riots ensued and more than 1,000 were murdered in the streets. Three years later Chavez and others attempted a coup and failed. Chavez was imprisoned for two years, but while he was in prison, massive organising was conducted in all parts of Venezuela against the Washington-imposed neo-liberal economic policies. This resulted in Chavez's election in 1999.
He won 14 out of 15 elections in what former US president Jimmy Carter calls the best electoral system on the planet. The US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy, has raised up to $10 million annually to build anti-Chavez sentiment, and has failed so far.
Today Latin America enjoys the most freedom, inclusiveness and economic benefits than at any time since the invasion by the Spanish over 500 years ago. Almost since its birth, the US has claimed through the Monroe Doctrine that Latin America belongs exclusively to the US. Today that is no longer true, with the success of the Cuban and Bolivarist revolutions. Chavez was a leader of a mass movement that has deep roots. In no way can he be considered a dictator or strongman.
Thailand rightfully is proud of the fact it has never been colonised. I would think a forward-looking newspaper such as The Nation would applaud other nations removing the yoke of colonisation and imperialism.