Hugo Chávez

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Chavez's first decade... saw Venezuelan GDP more than double... both infant mortality & unemployment almost halved... "extreme poverty" rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent... third lowest poverty rate in Latin America... college enrollment... more than doubled, millions of care for the first time... ~David Sirota
US officials] say they want to impose a democratic model... their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites.. imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons. What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?
When... a country goes socialist and its economy does what Venezuela's did... [Venezuela] came to be seen as a serious threat to the global system of corporate capitalism... a high crime prompting a special punishment. ~David Sirota

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (28 July 19545 March 2013) was the President of Venezuela from 1999 until March 2013.




  • Before anything else I would like to say good day to all of the Venezuelan people, and this Boliviarian message is directed to the brave soldiers in the Parachutist Regimen of Aragua and the Armed Brigade of Valencia. Friends: For now, lamentably, the objectives we considered were not achieved in the capital. That is to say, we here in Caracas have not managed to take power. You did very well over there, but now is the time to reflect; new situations will come and the country must definitively get on the path to a better destiny. So hear my word; hear Commander Chávez, who sends you this message so that you may please reflect and put down your weapons, because now, really, the objectives that we have brought to the national level are impossible to achieve. Friends: Hear this message of solidarity. I thank you for your loyalty, your valor, your exuberance, and I, before this country and before you all, assume responsibility for this Boliviarian militant movement. Thank you.
    • Hugo Chávez to Venezuelan television reporters just before being arrested for his participation in an attempted coup d'état, February 1992.


  • We must confront the privileged elite who have destroyed a large part of the world
    • Hugo Chávez [1]


I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar's sword.
  • He was an asshole to believe them.
    • Remarks about US President George W. Bush during a pro-government rally in Caracas on March 1, 2004, accusing the US of "meddling" in Venezuela's affairs. [2]


When imperialism feels weak, it resorts to brute force. The attacks on Venezuela are a sign of weakness, ideological weakness.
It is necessary to transcend capitalism.
We have to re-invent socialism. It can’t be the kind of socialism that we saw in the Soviet Union, but it will emerge as we develop new systems that are built on cooperation, not competition.... it must be done... with equality and justice... under democracy...
Let the dogs of the empire bark, that's their job; ours is to battle to achieve the true liberation of our people.
  • When imperialism feels weak, it resorts to brute force. The attacks on Venezuela are a sign of weakness, ideological weakness. Nowadays almost nobody defends neoliberalism. Up until three years ago, just Fidel [Castro] and I raised those criticisms at Presidential meetings. We felt lonely, as if we infiltrated those meetings.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [3]
  • Just look at the internal repression inside the United States, the Patriot Act, which is a repressive law against U.S. citizens. They have put in jail a group of journalists for not revealing their sources. They won't allow them to take pictures of the bodies of the dead soldiers, many of them Latinos, coming from Iraq. Those are signs of Goliath's weaknesses.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [4]
  • The south also exists... the future of the north depends on the south. If we don't make that better world possible, if we fail, and through the rifles of the U.S. Marines, and through Mr. Bush's murderous bombs, if there is no coincidence and organization necessary in the south to resist the offensive of neo-imperialism, and the Bush doctrine is imposed upon the world, the world will be destroyed.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [5]
  • Everyday I become more convinced, there is no doubt in my mind, as many intellectuals have said, that it is necessary to transcend capitalism. But capitalism can not be transcended through capitalism itself; it must be done through socialism, true socialism, with equality and justice. I’m also convinced that it is possible to do it under democracy, but not in the type of democracy being imposed by Washington.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [6]
  • If I am assassinated, there is only one person responsible: the president of the United States. If, by the hand of the devil, these perverse plans succeed...forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr. Bush. I will not hide, I will walk in the streets with all of you...but I know I am condemned to death.
    • Hugo Chávez message to George Bush during his television/radio show ¡Aló Presidente! on February 20, 2005. [9]
  • The world should forget about cheap oil. [The price] will keep going up and some day arrive at US$100 per barrel.
    • Hugo Chávez at a press conference in New Delhi, after signing a cooperative agreement with India's hydrocarbon sector, March 2005.
  • "I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism, the path is socialism."
    • Hugo Chávez in March 2005 [10]
  • The grand destroyer of the world, and the greatest threat … is represented by U.S. imperialism.
    • Hugo Chávez during his television/radio show ¡Aló Presidente! on August 21, 2005. [11]
  • But Cuba doesn’t have a dictatorship — it’s a revolutionary democracy.
    • Hugo Chávez during his television/radio show ¡Aló Presidente! on August 21, 2005. [12]
  • [Pat Robertson] is expressing the wishes of the US elite. If anything happens to me then the man responsible will be George W. Bush. He will be the assassin. This is pure terrorism.
  • That man, the king of vacations... the king of vacations in his ranch said nothing but: "You have to flee." and didn't say how... that cowboy, the cowboy mentality.
  • Knowing English is important, but for us Venezuelans I think it would also be important to know Portuguese. For that reason, we should evaluate the possibility of it being taught in our schools.
    • Hugo Chávez during his television/radio show ¡Aló Presidente! on October 2, 2005.
  • The descendants of those who crucified Christ... have taken ownership of the riches of the world, a minority has taken ownership of the gold of the world, the silver, the minerals, water, the good lands, petrol, well, the riches, and they have concentrated the riches in a small number of hands.
    • Christmas Speech at a rehabilitation center on December 24th, 2005. [15]
  • Let the dogs of the empire bark, that's their job; ours is to battle to achieve the true liberation of our people.
  • I hereby accuse the North American empire of being the biggest menace to our planet.
    • Hugo Chávez speaking in October 2005 [18]
  • The world has an offer for everybody but it turned out that a few minorities--the descendants of those who crucified Christ, the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here and also those who in a certain way crucified him in Santa Marta, there in Colombia--they took possession of the riches of the world, a minority took possession of the planet’s gold, the silver, the minerals, the water, the good lands, the oil, and they have concentrated all the riches in the hands of a few; less than 10 percent of the world population owns more than half of the riches of the world.
    • Chavez is invoking a Christian metaphor to condemn capitalism in this Christmas address, December 24, 2005, which some commentators have taken to be a reference to the Jews. [19] [20][21]

President Hugo Chavez's Speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Full Transcript online

  • They [US officials] say they want to impose a democratic model. But that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons. What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?
  • [If] we walk in the streets of the Bronx, if we walk around New York, Washington, San Diego, in any city, San Antonio, San Francisco, and we ask individuals, the citizens of the United States, what does this country want? Does it want peace? They'll say yes.
  • But the government doesn't want peace. The government of the United States doesn't want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war... But what's happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? In Palestine? What's happening? What's happened over the last 100 years in Latin America and in the world? And now threatening Venezuela -- new threats against Venezuela, against Iran?
  • I think there are reasons to be optimistic...because over and above the wars and the bombs and the aggressive and the preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning... the era is giving birth to a heart. There are alternative ways of thinking. There are young people who think differently. And this has already been seen within the space of a mere decade. It was shown that the end of history was a totally false assumption, and the same was shown about Pax Americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal world. It has been shown, this system, to generate mere poverty. Who believes in it now?
  • What we now have to do is define the future of the world. Dawn is breaking out all over. You can see it in Africa and Europe and Latin America and Oceanea. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision.
  • We have to strengthen ourselves, our will to do battle, our awareness. We have to build a new and better world.
  • Venezuela joins that struggle, and that's why we are threatened. The U.S. has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela, and it continues to support coup attempts in Venezuela and elsewhere.
  • ...reminded us just a moment ago of the horrendous assassination of the former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier. And I would just add one thing: Those who perpetrated this crime are free. And that other event where an American citizen also died were American themselves. They were CIA killers, terrorists.
  • In just a few days there will be another anniversary. Thirty years will have passed from this other horrendous terrorist attack on the Cuban plane, where 73 innocents died, a Cubana de Aviacion airliner. And where is the biggest terrorist of this continent who took the responsibility for blowing up the plane? He spent a few years in jail in Venezuela. Thanks to CIA and then government officials, he was allowed to escape, and he lives here in this country, protected by the government. And he was convicted. He has confessed to his crime. But the U.S. government has double standards. It protects terrorism when it wants to.


Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulphur still today.

  • Enough already with the imperialist aggression! Down with the U.S. empire! It must be said, in the entire world: Down with the empire!
    • Remarks during a meeting with US activist Cindy Sheehan in January 2006.
  • Don’t be shameless, Mr Blair. Don’t be immoral, Mr. Blair. You are one of those who have no morals. You are not one who has the right to criticize anyone about the rules of the international community. You are an imperialist pawn who attempts to curry favor with Danger Bush-Hitler, the number one mass murderer and assassin there is on the planet. Go straight to hell, Mr. Blair.
    • Responding to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which Mr. Blair urged Venezuela to abide by the rules of the international community. (February 2006) 12
  • You messed up with me, birdie. No? You don't know much about history. You don't know much about anything, you know? A great ignorance is what you've got. You are ignorant, Mr. Danger. You are an ignorant. You are a donkey, Mr. Danger … By that I mean, you know, to say it with all its letters, to Mr. George W. Bush. You are a donkey, Mr. Bush. I'm going to tell you something, Mr. Danger. You are a coward, you know? You are a coward. Why don't you go to Iraq and command your army? It's so easy to command an army from afar. If you ever come up with the crazy idea of invading Venezuela, I'll be waiting for you in this savanna, Mr. Danger. Come on here, Mr. Danger. Come on here. Come on here, Mr. Danger. Coward, assassin, genocidal... Genocidal, you are a genocidal. You are an alcoholic, a drunk.. A drunk, Mr. Danger. You are immoral, Mr. Danger... You are the worst ever, Mr. Danger … The worst of this planet, the very worst is called George W. Bush. God save the world from this menace. Because he is an assassin. A sick man, a psychologically ill man, I know it. Personally, he is a coward. But he has a lot of power. He has a lot of power. And look at what's happening in Iraq. Yesterday the world marched against the war... 70%, according to the surveys I've seen, of your own people, Mr. Danger, are against you, against the war. You are a liar, Mr. Danger. You are killing children, Mr. Danger, who aren't responsible for your illnesses, of your complexes. Your soldiers in Iraq are bombing cities. Just yesterday we were watching images of five children who were murdered by you soldiers. They're not the murderers. You are the murderer, coward!
  • [I'm being] compared to the biggest genocide person alive, in the history of humanity, the president of the United States... killer, genocidal, immoral... who should be taken to prison by an international criminal court. I don't know to what you are referring when you compare me to President Bush. Have I invaded any country? Have Venezuelans invaded anything? Have we bombarded a city? Have we had a coup d'etat? Have we used the CIA to kill a president? Have we protected terrorists in Venezuela? That's Bush!
    • Hugo Chávez to reporters during a press conference with London mayor Ken Livingstone on May 12, 2006. [22]
  • We see here a model social state like the one we are beginning to create.
    • Hugo Chávez to reporters during a state visit to Minsk, Belarus, on July 25, 2006. [23]
  • I have found yet another friend here. And with such a friend we will together form a team, like a soccer team. This will be a fighting team.
    • Hugo Chávez, referring to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, to reporters during a state visit to Minsk, Belarus, on July 25, 2006. [24]
  • [I admire] your wisdom and strength. [...] We are with you and with Iran forever. As long as we remain united we will be able to defeat [U.S.] imperialism, but if we are divided they will push us aside.
  • Let's save the human race, let's finish off the U.S. empire
    • Hugo Chávez on the Islamic Republic Medal ceremony at Tehran University in Iran. July 30th, 2006.[26]
  • Israel has gone mad. It's attacking, doing the same thing to the Palestinian and Lebanese people that they have criticised - and with reason - the Holocaust. But this is a new Holocaust.
    • In protest of Israel's military offensive in Lebanon.[27]
  • The Devil is right at home. The Devil, the Devil himself, is right in the house.
    And the Devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here. [crosses himself] And it smells of sulphur still today.
    Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the Devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.


  • Dr Insulza is quite an idiot, a true idiot. The insipid Dr Insulza should resign from the secretariat of the OAS for daring to play that role.
    • Chavez responding to criticism from OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza regarding the governments decision for not renew the license of an opposition-aligned TV station. (January 9, 2007) [28]
  • Go to hell, gringos! Go home!...What does the empire want? Condoleezza said it. How are you? You’ve forgotten me, missy...Condoleezza said it clearly, it’s about creating a new geopolitical map in the Middle East...They took out Saddam Hussein and they hung him, for better or worse. It’s not up to me to judge any government, but that gentleman was the president of that country.
    • Weekly radio address [29] (January 21, 2007)
  • The two of them [Bush & Negroponte] are criminals. They should be tried and thrown in prison for the rest of their days. If he had any dignity, the president of the United States would quit. The U.S. president doesn't have the political or moral capacity to govern.
    • Responding to remarks by US President Bush, over concerns of Venezuela's democracy being under threat. (February 1, 2007) [30]
  • No se trata de estatizar toda la economía (...) No, nuestro socialismo acepta la propiedad privada. Solo que esa propiedad privada debe estar en el marco de una constitución y leyes y de un interés social.
  • If the United States was mad enough to attack Iran or aggress Venezuela again the price of a barrel of oil could reach $150 or even $200.
    • Opening remarks at the OPEC Summit, November 2007.[32]
  • A Third World War? With an atom bomb? He said it, with an atom bomb. There would be no more world. The world would end. Humanity would no longer exist. I think he has to be put in an asylum. He has to be put in an mental asylum.
    • Responding to President George W. Bush remarks on Iran, November 21, 2007 [33]
  • If the "yes" vote wins on Sunday and the Venezuelan oligarchy, playing the [U.S.] empire's game, comes with their little stories of fraud, oil shipments to the United States will be halted [on Monday].
  • We're not really confronting those peons of imperialism. Our true enemy is called the North American empire and we're going to give another knockout to Bush.
  • If any international channel comes here to take part in an operation from the imperialist against Venezuela, your reporters will be thrown out of the country, they will not be able to work here. People at CNN, listen carefully: This is just a warning.
    • Closing remarks at the rally in support for an upcoming Venezuelan constitutional referendum in December 2007, which would free Chavez from term-limit restrictions and move the country toward institutionalized socialism.[34]




  • It doesn't smell of sulphur any more. No, it smells of something else. It smells of hope, and you have to have hope in your heart.
    • Speech at the U.N, welcoming the Obama administration. (September 2009) BBC


  • If there was any armed aggression against Venezuela from Colombian territory or from anywhere else, promoted by the Yankee empire, we would suspend oil shipments to the United States even if we have to eat stones here. We would not send a drop more to U.S. refineries!
    • Chávez reacting to US support to Colombia during the diplomatic crisis with that country on July 25, 2010 [35]
  • You should resign. It's the least you can do: Resign, along with those other spies and delinquents working in the State Department.


  • Mr. Obama decided to attack us, Now you want to win votes by attacking Venezuela. Don’t be irresponsible. You are a clown, a clown. Leave us in peace … Go after your votes by fulfilling that which you promised your people.
  • I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet


  • I extend from here my recognition of all who voted against us, recognition of their democratic weight.
    • On his election victory. (08 December 2012) [39]
  • El socialismo bolivariano nosotros tenemos que construirlo en el marco de la Constitución Bolivariana. [...] Nosotros no tenemos prevista la eliminación de la propiedad privada, ni la grande ni la pequeña. [...] El socialismo tenemos que construirlo, los sectores de clase media, profesionales, técnicos, nos hacen falta para construir un socialismo productivo. Nosotros necesitamos a la clase media, a los profesionales, a los técnicos, a los empresarios, a los agricultores, a la juventud, que se incorpore a un debate amplio. El socialismo del siglo XXI es democracia. Nosotros no estamos hablando de la dictadura del proletariado. No.


  • We have arrived again to Venezuela, Thank God. Thanks to my beloved country.
    • After coming back to Caracas. Chávez was in Cuba receiving treatment for cancer. 18 February, 2013.[40]
      • He passed away on 2013/03/06 by cancer.
  • I don't want to die. Please don't let me die.
    • Last words (mouthed). [41]

Unknown year

  • Convinced as I am and as I am from my government that the world needs a new moral architecture over all, I believe that this should be the first topic to debate in our world of today - ethics, and moral...[Capitalism is] an infernal machine that produces every minute an impressive amount of poor, 26 million poor in 10 years are 2.6 million per year of new poor, this is the road, well, the road to hell.
  • Democracy is not just turning up to vote every five or four years, it’s much more than that, it’s a way of life, it’s giving power to the people.

Quotes about Chávez

  • Mr. Chávez is my brother, he is a friend of the Iranian nation and the people seeking freedom around the world. He works perpetually against the dominant system. He is a worker of God and servant of the people.
    • Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad upon decorating Chávez with the "Higher Medal of the Islamic Republic of Iran" (July 28, 2006). [43]
  • The stem cell debate was an introduction to a phenomenon I witnessed throughout my presidency: highly personal criticism. Partisan opponents and commentators questioned my legitimacy, my intelligence, and my sincerity. They mocked my appearance, my accent, and my religious beliefs. I was labeled a Nazi, a war criminal, and Satan himself. That last one came from a foreign leader, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
    • George W. Bush, Decision Points (2010), p. 121
  • It is difficult to fathom the level of economic and social degradation occurring today in Venezuela under chavismo, the movement founded by the late leftist firebrand Hugo Chávez, who died of cancer three years ago. What began as a war against the “squalid” oligarchy in order to build what he called “21st-century socialism” — cheered on as he was by many leftists from abroad — has collapsed into an unprecedented heap of misery and conflict.
    Unsurprisingly, Chávez was incapable of reinventing socialism as anything other than a prescription for abject failure. Ultimately, all he wound up bequeathing to his people is this century’s longest national train wreck.
  • He was a great politician for his country and for the world as a whole.
  • 1.- Luis Miquilena, a political mentor who helped steer Chavez to the presidency in 1998, has done an about-face since leaving the government in 2002. This week, he described it as a "hypocritical authoritarianism that tries to sell the world certain democratic appearances". 2.- He said of him:... he is made for the confrontation... his style of governing was an almost of teenager... he is not a man furnished well mentally... he has not definite ideology... he is incendiary... he is erratic... he is unpunctual... he is disordered... is lover of luxury... he is limited... he is emotive... he was operating with total arbitrariness, as if he was handling a personal ranch... "annotate me there, to give 4 billions to this bank"… he has not rules of control... he does not know of finance... "Fidel had put in his head from a beginning, the idea that he could to be assassinated".
  • The lies peddled about Venezuela’s past make US US aggression against it possible in the present. It is worth summing up some of these key lies:
    Venezuela was “once prosperous” and ruined by socialism. In fact, Venezuela was an unequal country in which most people were poor despite the country’s oil wealth, which had generated huge export revenues since the 1920s.
    Venezuela was a democracy before Chavismo. In fact, Venezuela’s democracy was a gravely flawed system in which politicians alternated holding power according to an undemocratic agreement, and rammed austerity down the throats of Venezuela’s poor by committing massacres, such as the Caracazo.
    Chavismo ruined Venezuela’s democracy. Chávez indeed attempted to carry out a coup in 1992, but he came to power through an election in 1998, and afterward made changes through extensive democratic processes.
Four centuries of white supremacy in Venezuela by those who identify their ancestors as European came to an end with the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, who won with the overwhelming support of the Mestizo majority. This turn away from white supremacy continues under Maduro, Chavez’s chosen successor... ~Greg Palast
  • But there is another way to break a democracy. It is less dramatic but equally destructive. Democracies may die at the hands not of generals but of elected leaders—presidents or prime ministers who subvert the very process that brought them to power. Some of these leaders dismantle democracy quickly, as Hitler did in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire in Germany. More often, though, democracies erode slowly, in barely visible steps. In Venezuela, for example, Hugo Chávez was a political outsider who railed against what he cast as a corrupt governing elite, promising to build a more “authentic” democracy that used the country’s vast oil wealth to improve the lives of the poor. Skillfully tapping into the anger of ordinary Venezuelans, many of whom felt ignored or mistreated by the established political parties, Chávez was elected president in 1998. As a woman in Chávez’s home state of Barinas put it on election night, “Democracy is infected. And Chávez is the only antibiotic we have.” When Chávez launched his promised revolution, he did so democratically. In 1999, he held free elections for a new constituent assembly, in which his allies won an overwhelming majority. This allowed the chavistas to single-handedly write a new constitution. It was a democratic constitution, though, and to reinforce its legitimacy, new presidential and legislative elections were held in 2000. Chávez and his allies won those, too. Chávez’s populism triggered intense opposition, and in April 2002, he was briefly toppled by the military. But the coup failed, allowing a triumphant Chávez to claim for himself even more democratic legitimacy. It wasn’t until 2003 that Chávez took his first clear steps toward authoritarianism. With public support fading, he stalled an opposition-led referendum that would have recalled him from office—until a year later, when soaring oil prices had boosted his standing enough for him to win. In 2004, the government blacklisted those who had signed the recall petition and packed the supreme court, but Chávez’s landslide reelection in 2006 allowed him to maintain a democratic veneer. The chavista regime grew more repressive after 2006, closing a major television station, arresting or exiling opposition politicians, judges, and media figures on dubious charges, and eliminating presidential term limits so that Chávez could remain in power indefinitely. When Chávez, now dying of cancer, was reelected in 2012, the contest was free but not fair: Chavismo controlled much of the media and deployed the vast machinery of the government in its favor. After Chávez’s death a year later, his successor, Nicolás Maduro, won another questionable reelection, and in 2014, his government imprisoned a major opposition leader. Still, the opposition’s landslide victory in the 2015 legislative elections seemed to belie critics’ claims that Venezuela was no longer democratic. It was only when a new single-party constituent assembly usurped the power of Congress in 2017, nearly two decades after Chávez first won the presidency, that Venezuela was widely recognized as an autocracy.
  • you asked about Hugo Chávez a while ago. I mean, there’s a whole lot going on in Latin America, and there’s an overall push to the left overall — not every country, and not everything, but I find it very encouraging, you know?
  • The history of Venezuela and oil flows through Mene Grande like the crude oil through the silver pipe. The first oil workers’ strike occurred here (and was put down here) in 1925. In 1976, during the country’s first petrodelirium, when oil prices quadrupled, President Carlos Andrés Pérez came to Mene Grande to declare the nationalization of the oil industry. Three decades later, in the midst of an even bigger boom, President Hugo Chávez came here to announce a second nationalization, changing the terms by which foreign oil companies operated in Venezuela and giving the government a controlling stake in everything that happened in the oil fields. There were information boards at the edge of the parking lot commemorating the dual nationalizations; in their telling, Chávez got all the glory. Chávez had died a year earlier, in 2013, after fourteen years as president. A former soldier, he called himself a socialist and a revolutionary and he delighted in thumbing his nose at the United States, the imperial power to the north, to which he sold most of his country’s oil. His successor was Nicolás Maduro, a less talented politician who styled himself as the ideological heir of the man he called the eternal comandante. In Maduro’s short time as president, there had been waves of protest, the economy had begun to contract, inflation was soaring, and shortages of food and other goods were becoming acute.
    • William Neuman, Things Are Never So Bad They Can't Get Any Worse: Inside the Collapse of Venezuela (2022),
  • At the same time, on the other side of the Atlantic, in Venezuela, the authoritarian populist Hugo Chávez and his disciple Nicolás Maduro initiated a similar policy of massive spending, corruption and nationalization. The difference was that Chávez had control over the world’s largest oil reserves at a time when oil prices were soaring, so he received almost $1,000 billion that could keep that policy afloat for a little longer. That was enough for Chávez to be the left’s favourite demagogue for a while. Bernie Sanders said that the American dream was more alive in Venezuela than in the US. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn praised Chávez for showing that ‘the poor matter and wealth can be shared’. Oxfam called Venezuela ‘Latin America’s inequality success story’. In an open letter to ‘Dear President Chávez’, luminaries of the Left such as Jesse Jackson, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn and others state that they ‘see Venezuela not only as a model democracy but also as a model of how a country’s oil wealth can be used to benefit all of its people.’ On paper, that $1,000 billion was enough to make every extremely poor individual in Venezuela a millionaire. But still, it is not much money if you do not invest it productively and if you destroy the ability to create new wealth with nationalization and price controls. When the price of oil began to fall only slightly, it became obvious that the business sector was in a shambles and the oil industry had been demolished by corrupt mismanagement and underinvestment. The result was one of the worst economic disasters to have occurred anywhere in the world in peacetime. Between 2010 and 2020, Venezuela’s average income plummeted by an incomprehensible 75 per cent. South America’s richest country suddenly turned into South America’s poorest country with breadlines and a mass exodus from an increasingly tyrannical state. Around seven million Venezuelans have fled the crumbling country, an unbelievable 25 per cent of the country’s population. Since then, Venezuela has been less frequently mentioned as the hope of the international working class.
    • Johan Norberg, The Capitalist Manifesto: Why the Global Free Market Will Save the World (2023)
  • This is the story of Venezuela in black and white, the story not told in The New York Times or the rest of our establishment media. This year’s so-called popular uprising is, at its heart, a furious backlash of the whiter (and wealthier) Venezuelans against their replacement by the larger Mestizo (mixed-race) poor... Four centuries of white supremacy in Venezuela by those who identify their ancestors as European came to an end with the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, who won with the overwhelming support of the Mestizo majority. This turn away from white supremacy continues under Maduro, Chavez’s chosen successor.... The putsch in Venezuela is run by the wealthy, internationally connected minority operating by a regime-change plan designed by neocon retread John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser — a plan to control Venezuela and its oil, as Bolton openly proclaims.
  • The events... were a direct result of the 1998 elections, when the poor and disenfranchised of Venezuela elected Hugo Chavez by a landslide as their president. He immediately instituted drastic measures, taking control of the courts and other institutions and dissolving the Venezuelan Congress. He denounced the United States for its "shameless imperialism," spoke out forcefully against globalization, and introduced a hydrocarbons law that was reminiscent, even in name, to the one Jaime Roldos had brought to Ecuador shortly before his airplane went down. The law doubled the royalties charged to foreign oil companies. Then Chavez defied the traditional independence of the state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, by replacing its top executives with people loyal to him... By taking over the industry, Chavez had thrust himself onto the world stage as a major player.
  • By December 2002, the situation in both Venezuela and in Iraq reached crisis points... Then came the news that they had succeeded; Chavez had been ousted.... If Mr. Reich, and the Bush administration were celebrating the coup against Chavez, the party was suddenly cut short. In an amazing turnabout. Chavez regained the upper hand and was back in power less than seventy-two hours later. Unlike Mossadegh in Iran, Chavez had managed to keep the military on his side, despite all attempts to turn its highest-ranking officers against him. In addition, he had the powerful state oil company on his side. Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) defied the thousands of striking workers and made a comeback...
  • Chavez tightened his government's grip on oil company employees, purged the military of the few disloyal officers who had been persuaded to betray him, and forced many of his key opponents out of the country. He demanded twenty-year prison terms for two prominent opposition leaders, Washington-connected operatives who had joined the jackals to direct the nationwide strike. In the final analysis, the entire sequence of events was a calamity for the Bush administration. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Bush administration officials acknowledged Tuesday that they had discussed the removal of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for months with military and civilian leaders from Venezuela... The administration's handling of the abortive coup has come under increasing scrutiny. It was obvious that not only had the EHMs failed, but so had the jackals. Venezuela in 2003 turned out to be very different from Iran in 1953. I wondered if this was a harbinger or simply an anomaly and what Washington would do next.
  • At least for the time being, I believe a serious crisis was averted in Venezuela — and Chavez was saved — by Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration could not take on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Venezuela all at once. At the moment, it had neither the military muscle nor the political support to do so. I knew, however, that such circumstances could change quickly, and that President Chavez was likely to face fierce opposition in the near future.
  • I think that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela might not have survived his presidency... had we not been in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we were so diverted. We — the economic hit men tried to overthrow him, you know, a few years ago and were successful for about 48 hours. But then he had control over the oil company, and he was very, very popular. So he got back into office. At that point, had we not been involved in Iraq, I strongly suspect that we would have done something much more aggressive, as we’ve done so many other times. When the economic hit men fail, we take more drastic steps. Because we were so involved in Iraq, we didn’t do that. This gave great support to all of the other movements in Latin America. And these other candidates, people like Evo Morales, really looked to Hugo Chavez as an example of someone who’s had the staying power. He’s been able to stay there, despite the fact that the (G.W. Bush) administration has spoken so strongly against him and is so angry.
  • President Hugo Chávez was a fundamental pillar for sports in my country. He promoted many methods for sport to reach the lowest levels and for children to see that sport was important for health, for human values.
  • The good news is that we're not doing too badly. There have been major victories. Here in Latin America you have had so many-in Bolivia, you have Cochabamba. In Peru, there was the uprising Arequipa, In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is holding on, despite the U.S. government's best efforts.
  • Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.
  • I liked [Chavez]. He's very warm and very gracious. And he's a bear. I've always said that if he looked like Woody Allen he'd play a lot better with the world press. I think men are threatened by his physicality.
  • Even Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's socialist president, found this a stunning move for a nominally market economy to take. "Bush is to the left of me now," he said. "Comrade Bush announced he will buy shares in private banks."

Hugo Chavez's economic miracle, by David Sirota, Salon (6 March 2013)


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  • Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism... delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.
  • Chavez's first decade... saw Venezuelan GDP more than double... both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved... under Chavez's brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted... its "extreme poverty" rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent... left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America... college enrollment... more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time... the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.
  • When... a country goes socialist and its economy does what Venezuela's did... especially when said country has valuable oil resources... [Venezuela] came to be seen as a serious threat to the global system of corporate capitalism... a high crime prompting a special punishment.
  • Are there any lessons to be learned from Venezuela's policies that so rapidly reduced poverty?...Are there any constructive lessons to be learned from Chavez's grand experiment with more aggressive redistribution? Such questions need to be asked. The problem is the moment Chavez's name is invoked, the conversation is inevitably terminated, ending any possibility of discourse. That is by design - it is what the longtime caricaturing and marginalizing of Chavez was always supposed to do. But maybe now [that Hugo Chavez has passed away]...a more constructive, honest and critical economic conversation can finally begin.

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