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Monday, August 23, 2004

Tariq Ali on Chavez' Victory

The Progress Report features this article by Tariq Ali. Excerpts:
Chavez' victory will have repercussions beyond the borders of Venezuela. It is a triumph of the poor against the rich and it is a lesson that Lula in Brazil and Kirchner in Argentina should study closely. It was Fidel Castro, not Carter, whose advice to go ahead with the referendum was crucial. Chavez put his trust in the people by empowering them and they responded generously. The opposition will only discredit itself further by challenging the results.

The Venezuelan oligarchs and their parties, who had opposed this Constitution in a referendum (having earlier failed to topple Chavez via a US-backed coup and an oil-strike led by a corrupt union bureaucracy) now utilised it to try and get rid of the man who had enhanced Venezuelan democracy. They failed.

However loud their cries (and those of their media apologists at home and abroad) of anguish, in reality the whole country knows what happened. Chavez defeated his opponents democratically and for the fourth time in a row.

Democracy in Venezuela, under the banner of the Bolivarian revolutionaries, has broken through the corrupt two-party system favoured by the oligarchy and its friends in the West.
It is ridiculous to suggest that Venezuela is on the brink of a totalitarian tragedy. It is the opposition that has attempted to take the country in that direction. The Bolivarians have been incredibly restrained. When I asked Chavez to explain his own philosophy, he replied:

"I don't believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist revolution. I don't accept that we are living in a period of proletarian revolutions. All that must be revised. Reality is telling us that every day. Are we aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition of private property or a classless society?

"I don't think so. But if I'm told that because of that reality you can't do anything to help the poor, the people who have made this country rich through their labour and never forget that some of it was slave labour, then I say 'We part company'. I will never accept that there can be no redistribution of wealth in society. Our upper classes don't even like paying taxes. That's one reason they hate me. We said 'You must pay your taxes'. I believe it's better to die in battle, rather than hold aloft a very revolutionary and very pure banner, and do nothing ... Try and make your revolution, go into combat, advance a little, even if it's only a millimetre, in the right direction, instead of dreaming about utopias."

And that's why he won.