HAVANA TIMES — Speaking of Chavez’s death, I was reading some articles on the Internet. Most of them were no more than boring caricatures, like the one by Mario Esquivel published by Prensa Latina. Luckily there are others that are better balanced, such as the one by Boaventura Sousa Dos Santos, titled “Chavez: The Legacy and the Challenges” (Chavez, el legado y los desafíos).
In this post, I want to think out loud about some of the points in that article with which I don’t agree.
Boaventura begins with a rhetorical heading that allows a glimpse of how slack the rest of the writing is. The professor states: “Can anyone imagine the popular masses of many other countries mourning over the death of a democratic political leader with the bitter tears Venezuelans are flooding on the television screens of the world?”
Even assuming that the flood of tears shed by the “popular classes” is real, what do they prove except for the love or fanaticism for the deceased? Over history, how many degenerates have been mourned by the “popular masses”?
But let’s move on to a more substantive point. In another paragraph, the analyst says: “The popular classes, used to being beaten down by a distant and repressive power, are experiencing moments when the distance between the representatives and represented has almost vanished.”
Here I almost got mad. Was this a joke that was over my head? It’s one thing to emotionally identify with the poor and redistribute wealth in a slightly less unfair manner, but a rapprochement between those above and those below is another thing all together.
In contrast, a charismatic and authoritarian leader (qualities that usually come together) often undermines democratic institutions, whose functions are supposed to be like transmission (and reproachment) belts between the governed and their leaders, thus contributing to deepening inter-class gaps. A “detail” like this escaping the attention of an overexploited manual worker is understandable, but a dedicated leftist thinker?
Later the professor stresses, as a positive aspect, the much vaunted anti-imperialism of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution. Empires are fed on fuel, and particularly the Yankee Empire nourishes itself largely from Venezuelan oil. So why didn’t the rabid anti-imperialist and late commander make the cut — as his rhetoric demanded — in supplying black gold to the US war machine?
Last, but not least, Boaventura argues that Chavez “dismantled existing capitalism but he didn’t replace it.”
Capitalism will be around as long as humans will sell their labor to the owners of the means of production. Has any of that changed substantially in Venezuela? I think this prestigious leftist intellectual is going to confuse more than one of his readers with such ambiguous statements.