Getting to Know Chavez

Dariela Aquique

Hugo Chavez. Photo: Cardad

HAVANA TIMES — I need to confess something. All this time I’ve been a victim of prejudice against the Bolivarian government of Venezuela and its desire to build a political, economic and social system that they call 21st century socialism.

The figure of President Hugo Chavez has always aroused suspicion in me. Perhaps this was due to my being saturated with political speeches here, where a new society and the “new person” have been the leitmotif. Or maybe this was because of our national experience, where promises faded into disappointment.

Then too, there was that image I always had of him, where he seemed like a clone of Fidel. None of that ever motivated me to learn about the Venezuelan revolutionary movement in detail.

These days, following his physical disappearance, I’ve been following each news story and television broadcast about this subject. I can now tell you — after four days of listening and watching — I’ve come to know him and his social-political objective for his nation and for Latin America and the Caribbean.

I couldn’t help but sometimes feeling ashamed with myself for having judged this dignitary a priori.

I was moved by the documentary showing me his life and his roots. I’ve learned from the history of Venezuela and from these 14 years of his rule.

I’ve seen a people moved and grateful for having had a leader who taught them the path to sovereignty. I’ve seen demonstrations of grief from all corners of the world, and I witnessed a touching farewell ceremony.

I was surprised by the spontaneous tears; it was as though a contagion were traveling the world, evidenced by the attendance at the service of so many leaders as well as personalities from the arts, science, politics, and international religion.

The words of Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the honor guard of 33 heads of state, the crying of a family, and the cry of a people have shown me a revolutionary, a politician, a Christian, a good man.

The Americas is bidding farewell to one of its noblest sons…someone who dreamed of a world without superpowers, without wars; without social, political, racial, religious or gender exclusion.

He was someone I assessed wrongly. Now though, I’ve gotten to know him – and like the old saying goes: better late than never.


Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

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10 thoughts on “Getting to Know Chavez

  • Guy, if your child came home from school with a note from the teacher that your child called a classmate a ‘donkey’ because your child disagreed with the other child, you would hopefully correct your child by saying that name-calling to resolve differences is inappropriate. If so, why would you accept that in a President of Venezuela. I did not vote for Bush and I disagreed with his policies but it is infantile (or clownish) to resort to name-calling. I understand that it is good politics especially if you wish to appeal to the poorly-educated majority of your electorate but it is behavior beneath the Office of the President. When Chavez called Bush a donkey or insinuated that Henrique Capriles was gay, he resorted to the most banal methods of debating the issues. BTW, what the f*ck does the level of influence of the State of Israel has upon American and Western foreign policy have to do with this post? From your final comment, am I to assume that if one did not support Chavez and Chavismo, that they must be of lower intelligence? Or higher intelligence?

  • Educate yourself and find out the level of influence the state of Israel has upon American and the Western world’s foreign policy.
    Your diatribe , equating Hugo Chavez to a clown ,exposes your level of intelligence.

  • “What is really needed here in the U.S. is someone like Chavez, a genuine populist, one from–and for–the people”
    I tend to agree with you,but in the US,such a man would be assassinated very quickly.

  • President Chavez was Anti Zionist not against the Jewish faith.

  • Chavez had his good points, but he was not against religious exclusion. His anti-Jewish prejudices bordered on the paranoid. Let’s hope his friends who think his cancer was caused by the “Israel lobby” are made to keep their voices down.

  • Dariela

    I admire you for admitting as such, we all learn and he was loved by millions not only in Venezuela but the world.

    Granted in 1992 i misjudged him also but by 1998 I saw he was for the people and in early 2002 he sawed the need for real socialism, of which the grassroots still want and still not has been completed.

    Maybe because of how Cuba, because of the US embargo and having to depend on Soviet Stalinism ( of which Che was a critic of both China and them economically, politically and for their foreign policy) instead being to have their own brand of socialism things may have been different.

    I still support the Cuban revolution, its people and the need for real socialism and hope it does not creep towards capitalism of which it seems to be doing. Stalinism always leads back to capitalism.

    Rojo Rojito

  • Chavez was perfectly within his rights to make life difficult for Globovision and their ilk. What would happen in the U.S. in, for example, if several major networks colluded with and supported a coup in violation of the U.S. Constitution? Yer damn right! We’d shut ’em down! That’s exactly what Globovision did during the 2002 coup. The air waves are a public trust. Anyone who violates that trust deserves to be shut down! A major difference betwixt Chavez and Obama is that the latter has been thoroughly coopted. Despite his humble origins, Obama has now become the lackey of the military-industrial complex. That he is hated so much by the arch-reactionaries and tea-party crowd of yahoos doesn’t really signify that he is the “lesser of two evils,” only the more sophisticated of two co-equal evils. Actually, allowing the tea-party crowd a turn in power might be good–for The Revolution–since they would undoubtedly provoke a more radical situation once they got through mangling the economy with their naive and simple-minded delusions. Don’t worry, that isn’t about to happen; the real powers in this country would never allow it to happen. Still, they will eventually destroy our nation with their never-ending wars. Bring ’em on!

  • If the editorial staff at CNN disagree with his policies, would you support the US version of Chavez being able to introduce and pass a law can outlaw media that violates certain reporting laws effecting targeting CNN? Would you still support this Chavez even after he dismissed those Supreme Court judges that disagreed with him only to appoint jurists that contributed to his campaign. By the way, there is no Senate approval in Venezuela. Finally, President Obama also represents a person who grew up in modest circumstances and by his own merit rose to the highest office in the land, arguably the world. Like Lincoln, he governs with a common touch and is certainly not a member of the “ruling class”. Like Lincoln, he does so by urging Americans to be better than we are and not by by diminishing his office with gutter jokes and buffoon-like antics. If I want to see a clown, I go to the circus. I want my President to represent something more noble and dignified. No, thanks, Americans deserve better than Chavez gave Venezuelans.

  • What is really needed here in the U.S. is someone like Chavez, a genuine populist, one from–and for–the people. Did we ever have such a leader here? Perhaps Lincoln. In the unlikely chance one did arise, he’d probably share Lincoln’s fate.
    I’ll miss Chavez’s earthy humor (e.g. his Bush as devil speech before the U.N.) He never forgot from whence he came, nor was he ever, like so many before him, coopted by the ruling class. He always remembered the suffering of his people, and he knew of their potential, too, of all their talent and energy that had heretofore been wasted or denied. Although I feel sad at his passing, I celebrate his life, too: an example of a life well lived!

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