The Venezuela Thread


I keep on on hearing about how Chavez was bad . Yet how bad was he ? Honest question . Comparing him to Stalin and Hitler ? Was he engaged in mudering millions or even thousands or even anybody ?

Wait until you move to the US to see some real ’ wealth gap ’ in a first world country . Your sub- Saharan comparison will seem kind of silly . First world wealth gap’s and sub - Saharan wealth gap’s is a poor comparison .


I am stunned . A elected leader taking a populist approach . What next ? Welfare , child allowance ?

You are really comparing Chavez to FF and the property boom . At least Chavez had oil to back up his policies while all Ireland had was empty fields in Leitrim .

I don’t mean that to send like a attack and sorry if it does . But what excatly makes Chavez so bad besides the US hating him ? Again honest question .


Did someone compare him to Hitler or Stalin?

There is no denying that at the very least Chavez was a jackass and at worst a dangerous wannabe dictator. Free press yeah right and hinting at civil war if he didn`t win the election.

What a hero…


Unless any of you have actually been to Venezuela then you have zero credibility in terms of making an assessment of the man and the effect of his policies on the basis that each of your interpretations of his time in power are derived from biased, agenda driven media reporting on both sides of the spectrum…you/we are all basically engaged in regurgitation of particular agenda-constructed points of fantasy.

Similarly, Im not in any way well-placed to provide an accurate assessment of the man…however, having met Venezuelans from both sides of the social divide over the past number of years my interpretation would be that he was an extremely divisive character, hated by the rich (seemingly for good reason) and loved by the poor (again seemingly for good reason). I fail to see how an outsider (who has not spent time within that society) can come to any other view of the man.

One thing for sure however, is the fact that he was a brave man of conviction who stood up for what he believed in come what may. He was also an idealist and seems to have been motivated primarily by a willingness to improve the lot of the poor within Venezuela and across wider Latin America. That such motivations can invoke such vilification from our part of the world at a time when the European political class spends its time furthering the interests of failed financial institutions over and above those of its own citizenry says more to me about the society we live in than it does about Chavez’s Venezuela.

And as for the ‘democrats’ here and elsewhere who decry ‘populism’…hahahaha!!! I guess we’re still down that fucking rabbit hole…


A point easily made with the benefit of the existence of a factual historical perspective…although Im pretty sure that at the time there would have been both vociferous international supporters and detractors each spreading their agenda-driven verbiage across all political and media channels available to them…likewise Nazi Germany, Franco’s Spain etc which enjoyed support or opposition at various stages based, again, on the reports emanating from within each thereby colouring or catering to the various tastes of the different interested parties beyond their own borders…the truth tends to come out much later…and is of course written by the victors…

Our opinions of Chavez and the society he inherited and leaves behind are based on similar such reportage from both within and without Venezuelan society…are any of them even worth a shite beyond them simply being another front for our own petty squabbles writ both small and large?? Im not so sure…another twist to the maxim of all politics being local etc


Most of us judging Chavez negatively have used hard facts, such as inflation, crime, oil prices, oil production, GDP growth, etc.

Those praising Chavez have used Gini coefficient and Poverty Levels and ignore the other stats and focus on Chavez’ intentions.

Then there’s the view of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch


Maybe you’re allowed a view of the Lukashenko in Belarus.


So much ink spilled to say so little of interest about Chavez. Here is one reflection that captures a bit more. … evolution/


Sure, if you read the first couple of paragraphs that is what they say. But the point of the piece is to explore how Chavez and contemporary Venezuela have been produced by political forces that are to do with a lot more than Venezuela and the left populism that he represents is particular to that history. And the particulars of economic and social power in Venezuela demand a very different kind of oppositional politics if one is to effect any kind of change. In general Chavez is beaten with a stick cut from the traditions of European social democracy when in fact he exists in the context of a feudal aristocracy. That is what is elided by most of the coverage and opinion (your included) that is available to most readers.

Ill skip most and get to another point that is a peculiar and off putting aspect of Chavez’s reign.


I wasnt picking on you Barney. I was just making a general point about how we interpret, filter and absorb news and information with a view to reinforcing our own world views. We all do it IMO with this thread being a good example of how the process tends to operate with, for example, yourself and Slasher making what look like fairly reasonable claims based on stats/evidence (as cited by Slasher) in support, and others making counter claims based on stats/evidence which seems to counteract same.

For example, the latest article that Ditch Dweller has referenced would appear to me to be the most insightful and most relevant that I have read in terms of gaining an insight into the man and the country that spawned him as well as the society he leaves behind. However, that probably betrays some of my own leanings in terms of what my own mind is prepared to allow me accept as ‘fact’. It also seems to neatly address some of the more prevalent criticisms of the man and his policies/regime as well as also highlighting some of his/its quite obvious flaws.

As someone who has spent a bit of time in one of Venezuela’s neighbouring countries, the referencing of Latin American society, history and culture in terms of seeking to place Chavez’ legacy within some sort of relevant context is what raises the perspective offered in this article way above anything else that I have read over the past week…of course that also is basically a subjective personal opinion which can be taken or left…so each to their own…and that seems to be how we like it…entonces, la lucha sigue… :wink:


Si, la lucha sigue! Estoy de acuerdo con lo que has escrito aqui PtG. Tambien he vivido en America Latina durante varios anos y esa experiencia cambia la perspectiva de uno!


You’re right, we should have no truck with those the establishment label terrorists…




That’s right. We’d have very little in common with them anyway and it would result in an awkward silence.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but did he not give hope to the majority in a country which was renowned for the gap between the poor and the wealthy?

Someone mentioned that inflation took place during his time in power. Well, surely it is a corollary of spreading wealth more widely that when more people have access to money, prices will rise? As Chavez introduced the old age pension and other forms of social welfare, more people had the wherewithal to buy necessities. There was more money circulating, so is it a surprise that inflation occurred? (Indeed, is that not one of the definitions of inflation?).
Who benefitted from all this? did the wealthy suddenly become poor? did the poor suddenly become wealthy, or was there a moderate transfer of wealth to the poorer part of society? Did society as a whole become better off or worse off as a result of improved social welfare, education and health care?

Surely these are the parameters we should use to determine what Chavez’s legacy is.


How about these parameters?

Does anyone need a reminder of oil prices over the last decade?


Domestic industry?

Pretty disappointing legacy unless you’re blinkered. Can you not bring yourself to say he squandered opportunities?


Correct me if Im wrong but the ‘Poverty Rate’ chart cited by Slasher above seems to state that the percentage of people living in poverty in Venezuela decreased by almost 50% during Chavez’ time in power…if this is a correct interpretation, how is this an inditement of the man and his regime? If the criticism is based on him not having addressed said poverty levels by as much as it was in the other countries cited (and with reference to the real debate that people contributing to this thread are engaged in), is it not the case that both Peru and Brazil have also had left leaning Governments during the same period and that this may have contributed to same?

Re the crime levels, while the article that DD cited acknowledges that crime levels in Venezuela are very high, it also points to the fact that in Mexico during the same period, Mexico being another Latin American country with a similar history and culture but one which is often cited as a bastion of the rightist/neo-liberal side of things, crime levels during the same period have gone through the roof with the level of violent crime, murders, kidnappings etc now astronomical. Indeed, it has taken over from Colombia, Venezuela’s neighbour as well as the only US-leaning country left on the continent of South America, as the leading Narco-State in the region…


It’s an indictment because other countries in South America managed to do significantly better, despite not having the second largest reserves of oil, in the middle of an oil boom. That’s the whole point. His reductions in poverty were not by and large by building up sustainable domestic industries etc. Not sustainable.

Look at what Lula achieved and tell me Chavez compares well.


Well, Id say less of an absolute inditement than a mild enough (if perhaps valid) criticism…a lot done more to do type scenario no?

Indeed, in terms of other oil producing countries, Gulf states for example, Id imagine Chavez’ Venezuela compares quite favourably in terms of its treatment of the ‘weaker’ or more ‘vulnerable’ within its society…yet it comes in for much more criticism within mainstream western media…again for quite obvious reasons…

Anyway, I think we’re going round in circles here. BY some subjectively comparative measures, Chavez’ record seems to stand up well enough. By others, less so…red pill or blue pill…choose your poison…


I think in a polarised society it is all too easy spending all your time fighting whatever the other side is doing. We see that stasis in Ireland too - we’re agin’ what they’re for. Complete waste of talent, energy and ultimately money.