Concerning a ‘Balanced’ Analysis of Chavez

Erasmo Calzadilla

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.




Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

Erasmo Calzadilla has 408 posts and counting. See all posts by Erasmo Calzadilla

6 thoughts on “Concerning a ‘Balanced’ Analysis of Chavez

  • That Chavez was adored, respected and loved by the great many, mostly poor, whose lives he had benefited should come as no surprise to someone whose country also faces a similar situation when Fidel passes .

    Love him or not, Chavez did a lot more than most leaders would ever think of doing and since he benefitted the poor and pissed off the government of the United States, he has to be considered as a global hero and a model for others .

    I’m sure Exxon, Mobil and all the other oil companies will soon, maybe today , start donating free heating oil to the poor of the United States as Chavez and the Venezuelans do.

  • Oil is fungible.
    If Venezuela sells it all to China instead of the U.S. then whomever was selling it to China can then sell it to the U.S. and it just moves from one place to another at maybe slightly higher transportation cost.
    No major supplier or user can respectively stop selling or buying.

  • If Venezuela cut off oil sales to the US they would only be hurting themselves. Canada would make up the difference in a blink as President Obama would be obliged to greenlight the new Keystone XL pipeline.

  • For an interesting article which (despite its title, only incidentally) compares Hugo Chavez with Huey Long, see “Huey Long: Our Chavez” in this weekend’s CounterPunch (March 22nd-24th). While its author, Mike Whitney, is funny, I sorely miss Alexander Cockburn’s (R.I.P.) sharp and hilarious wit. The U.S. needs both another Huey Long and another Alexander Cockburn, though both are irreplacable.

  • I think the writer of the post confuses what and who the masses are of the Bolivarian revolution, which has not been completed as of yet and started way before president Chavez and will continue.

    I am sure to give a history 101 on this subject is more than this post could handle or the factions and thousands of groups they represent the government, grassroots and its militants

    .President Chavez was not a dictator, if he was the bureaucracy would not have sabotaged, derailed, slow downed and not follow the laws of the country or orders from the president and the aspirations for real socialism that the masses of people want in Venezuela. That’s why there was such a real out pouting and love for the president when he died.

    For a better analysis of who presiident chavez was and what the revolution, I would suggest listening to this audio of Alan Woods a real Marxist, well known in Cuba, Venezuela and the world.


  • Although Venezuela is among the top four providers to the US of imported oil, its deliveries amount to no more than 10% of total US oil imports. If Venezuela were to curtail or even significantly reduce oil exports to the US, the impact to the US economy would be certainly be felt in the short-term (less than a year). However, in the long-term(one year and beyond), other OPEC providers, namely Saudi Arabia, could easily make up for the loss of Venezuelan oil. On the other hand, the US is by far Venezuela’s largest customer (950,000 barrels per dayor 40% of total oil exports). Both in terms of quantity of oil and with respect to those customers that purchase crude at full commercial rates as opposed to the heavily subsidized sales to Cuba and other Caribbean countries (PetroCaribe). Even China, while increasingly becoming a large importer of Venezuelan oil (400,000 barrels per day), is largely engaged in oil for loan credit transactions. Venezuela, for all its anti-American bluster and propaganda, knows full well what further harm would come to the Venezuelan economy should they mix politics with business and cut off oil sales to the US.

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