Seven Years After Death Of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela Still Resists

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Note: Two films on Hugo Chavez.

The Alliance for Global Justice highlights this film, Hugo Video Excerpts: Hugo Chavez at World Social Forum 2005, at UN September 2006 “We must transcend capitalism. And we need a revolution, there is no other way.” March 5 marks the anniversary of the passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2013. We remember his words at the World Social Forum, as he spoke truth to power and pronounced before the world what was really necessary to solve the problems of this world.

This short two and a half minute video by CODE PINK displays some of the deep emotional links that many in Venezuela have for Hugo Chavez.

KZ

The Bolivarian Process Continues Seven Years After the Death of Hugo Chavez

Seven years have passed since the death of Hugo Chávez. The Latin American and national situation has changed in that time, and yet the Venezuelan reality is still partly explained by what his life meant, particularly in the humble sectors of the country.

The night was more night in front of the Military Hospital of Caracas. It was March 5, 2013 and thousands of us gathered at the most feared news: the death of Hugo Chávez. The country was born a sadness and an oath of centuries inside.

The news was given at 4h25 in the afternoon by Nicolás Maduro. There are many stories about those minutes. One of them tells of a cold wind with a dark sky over the city. I saw it, it was on Baralt Avenue, near Plaza Bolívar, where we met until dawn. 

The morning of March 6 began the procession. Chavez was taken from the Military Hospital to the Military Academy. We were millions, literally. The crowd crossed Caracas like a slow red swell, the Chavez drawer in the center, with flowers, posters, tears, flags, songs. 

The wake lasted ten days. Men and women from all over the country arrived, each as he could, with what he had, to say goodbye to Chavez, to the commander, to thank him, to promise. The lines lasted day, night, dawn, kilometers. I saw it near ten o’clock at night, a lady had passed out, outside the hill’s lights looked like a birth.

In those days the most pristine image of what Chavez represented for millions could be seen. There was the depth of a political process that moved a people, founded a story again. There was no doubt that Chavismo was a majority, humble, and that his opponent, anti-Chavez, with an indelible mark of the upper classes, was never willing to understand.

A month and nine days later Maduro won the elections and Henrique Capriles Radonski, his opponent, did not recognize the victory, tried a coup and left eleven dead, as well as health centers and local supporters on fire.

Another era

The death of Chávez occurred on a period cusp. The continent was under a majority of progressive, leftist governments. Evo Morales, president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, for example, accompanied the procession from the Military Hospital to the Military Academy. 

The presidents of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, came to the funeral; from Uruguay, José ‘Pepe’ Mujica; from El Salvador, Mauricio Funes; from Cuba, Raúl Castro; the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; and from Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, who was with former president Lula Da Silva.

There was little to begin an offensive process articulated by the United States, which launched a process of restoration and revenge. One of the expressions of this process was the dismantling policy of the Latin American integration advances created in the previous years, such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). 

At the center of these advances had been Chávez, in a cycle of accumulation of forces initiated in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 2005, to stop the US attempt to impose the Free Trade Area for the Americas (FTAA) until further promoting of the aforementioned organizations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

The period of greatest union in Latin America since independence had Chávez among its central architects. His funeral was not only a Venezuelan sadness, but Latin American. 

Changes

How are the transformations and permanence of a country measured? How is it done in the case of a political process with the power that the Bolivarian Revolution deployed? Arriving in Venezuela at the time of Chávez was entering a current that projected to move towards a clear mouth. 

The country transmitted a political energy, an effervescence with a central dimension: the leading emergence of the humble people, the popular neighborhoods, the rural areas, as policy makers, despised and underestimated by anti-Chavez.   

Material impacts began to appear in 2014 and centrally in 2015 with shortages. Cities were populated with queues at the doors of supermarkets, supplies, pharmacies, at any time of the day or night. The country that had experienced years of growth entered a time of resistance.

The Government’s speech identified two central enemies: on the one hand, the oligopolistic entrepreneurship, to whom the responsibility for hoarding products was attributed; on the other hand, the US government. Both were responsible for what was called economic warfare. 

The difficulties changed during those years: the devaluation of the currency forced a monetary exchange, inflation reached hyperinflation levels and then decreased, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by more than half, there was a large-scale emigration , change from formal to informal jobs, and currently, there is a process called in the streets as dollarization.

Translation: FOREVER YOU
Our eternal leader, our eternal friend … A wonderful human being who sowed love in the town and in our country.
Chavez for now and forever!

It was years, with a legislative electoral defeat for Chavism in 2015 , insurrectionary escalations of the right in 2014 and 2017, the election of a 2017 National Constituent Assembly , of governorships and mayorships that year, of president in 2018 , until the formation of a fictitious parallel government in 2019 .

Time was always vertigo and in that absence of truce there were profound changes. The Government disposed of its speech to the big business as an enemy to seek to incorporate it into an alliance attempt, and focused the confrontation in the United States and the coup opposition sector.

The social body, between political and economic assault and assault, went through a process of restoring material and symbolic inequalities. That political energy that mainstreamed the country was reduced to specific territories and dates, and went from a largely mobilized society – both Chavism and opposition – to a largely demobilized surface society.   

Permanence

The image of Chavez’s funeral revealed the depths of Chavismo. Those who always looked down on the Bolivarian process never dimensioned what the Revolution represented for humble people at all levels: rational, political, subjective, cultural, emotional, collective.

Chavismo was formed in a political identity centrally of the popular classes. Thousands, millions, did not give up since Chavez’s death, and make up that approximately 25% of the so-called hard Chavism.

Those who remained, fought the dream, were and are, paradoxically, those who have been hit hardest by economic difficulties. Loyalty was sustained as a flag in the hills, the peasant areas, in which, before the Bolivarian Revolution, they only had one place in the country: that of exclusion and the fight for the arepa of each day.

Seven years of Chavez’s absence, of reconfiguration of several political keys, of a new economic scenario where those who historically win win, a whole storm of events did not give up a political and cultural identity.

That is why Chavismo is a daily experience in popular neighborhoods, in debates, in imaginations of the country that will come. Therefore, also, in the electoral calculations for – for example – the next legislative elections of December 2020 there is a possibility that the majority will be obtained.

Chavez still explains a central part of Venezuelan news. That denied by the mainstream media, opposition stories, the American narrative. That reality has not given up.