Ask many Americans who’ve heard of him how they feel about Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, and they will describe him as a dictator, a communist, a selfish moron, evil, etc.
They often do this on the basis of the most superficial evidence from the evening news.
Once again, the American government and media have been successful at selling propaganda that is incorrect, and yet Americans still fall for it.
A grossly distorted image of Hugo Chavez has been accepted by Americans who choose to believe the lies the national media and government have to say instead of challenging the standard perception and critically analyzing what Venezuela’s President actually stands for.
First of all, one has to remember the history of Latin America and the circumstances in which a leader like Hugo Chavez emerged.
Venezuela and other countries in the region have said enough to American imperialism, free markets that benefit developed countries, the constantly growing gap between the rich and the poor, and bad economic conditions caused in part by Washington Consensus policies.
These countries are tired of inequality, poverty, disease, exploitation, torture, and repression, and have decided stand up for their people: not the elite, but the average citizen.
Chavez’s reforms have been highly criticized by the American government as well as by elites in Latin America, whose power and wealth are threatened by a leader that wants prosperity for the people at the bottom; that is, the vast majority of the population.
On scrutiny, Chavez’s political and social movement, known as the Bolivarian Revolution, was particularly designed to benefit Venezuela’s poor, which according to statistics from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), constitute 70% of the country’s population.
Based on information gathered from Venezuela’s official government website, there are currently 19 social programs known as “missions” that have been implemented to improve social and economic conditions.
Because of limited space, I will not describe all of them, but it will be worthwhile to mention some of them. This is the untold story that you will not find reflected in mainstream media in the United States.
“Mision Arbol” (“Tree Mission”) is a government-sponsored program that promotes sustainable development, water and biodiversity conservation, and “conservationalist ethical values” for the population, especially children. Encouraging environmental awareness is the main focus of this program.
It is interesting that a rich oil country like Venezuela would have such a strong emphasis on the environment, especially in the midst of such confusion and discord about ecological initatives in more developed countries.
Another one of Venezuela’s missions is called “Mision Madres del Barrio” (“Neighborhood Mothers’ Mission”), and its purpose is to help women and their families who live in extreme poverty to get involved in productive activities, and also assist with education, health services, and food.
“Mision Guaicaipuro” (“Guaicaipuro Mission”) was established to restore the rights of the indigenous peoples of Venezuela and assure social rights such as education, health, water, and shelter. One of the program’s main focuses is to help indigenous populations develop in a sustainable way while respecting their differences and ways of achieving development.
“Mision Sucre” (“Sucre Mission”) was established to assure that every Venezuelan citizen, regardless of his or her region and locality, has access to free higher education.
Last but not least, “Mision Barrio Adentro” (“Inside the Neighborhood Mission”) is a social program that provides public healthcare, especially in the poorest neighborhoods and localities. This program promotes better quality of life and easy access to free healthcare.
The five programs I just described are just part of Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution.” What President Chavez is doing in Venezuela is redistributing an economic pie that has long been enjoyed by only the few at the top.
Their understanding of this threat, and strident opposition to it, is one of the benchmarks of success for Chavez’s plan of economic development for the majority in his country.
Criticism of Chavez’s revolution is inevitable. No American or European corporation wants to see social economics in any country they profit from, and as power holders they have a big influence in government and media outlets.
You be the judge. Take a look at the programs yourself. Remember the popular support the President of Venezuela has and reach your own conclusions as to what Hugo Chavez really stands for.