The Meaning of a Phrase ‘I Am Chavez’

Elio Delgado Legon

Foto: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — A huge gathering of the supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) took place on January 10 near the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. It was an action in support of the president who was re-elected on October 7. But it was also a warning to the opposition parties, who were threatening the country with destabilizing actions.

I was struck by two main things. One was the mobilizing power held by the ruling party. The other — which we saw again and again on posters being held up by members of the crowd —was the phrase “I Am Chavez.”

The meaning of that phrase cannot be overlooked by political analysts or by the opponents of the Bolivarian Revolution. It means that a revolution by the people and for the people is underway in Venezuela, one in which each of the country’s citizens is considered part of that revolution.

This isn’t an empty slogan. What it means is that Chavez and his party have entered the hearts of the people. It means that his ideas have taken root, are consolidating and are growing like a giant tree that gives shade to those people, who — for more than 200 years — were left to their fate and in their poverty in one of the richest countries of our America.

Prior to the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, what prevailed was looting and corruption. The immense resources that were extracted from its ground flowed into the coffers of transnational oil corporations and to the national oligarchy that allowed this to occur. However, the poor and hardworking masses of people received nothing.

The two main parties of the bourgeoisie took turns in power, achieving power based on promises they never kept. I know the story all too well because the same situation existed in Cuba before our revolution.

Most Venezuelans lacked medical care, free and quality education, access to culture and sports, decent housing, or the quality of life that’s possible in a country that has such enormous wealth.

Today the Venezuelan landscape has changed substantially. I won’t list all the benefits that the Bolivarian Revolution has brought to its people, there are many of them and they’re well known. I just want to point out that these benefits and those to come reflect the ideas of Hugo Chavez, ideas that have been embraced by the people and that no one can take away.

Chavez remains ill and fighting for his recovery at a hospital in Cuba, but the revolution has not stopped. The leaders who lead the government continue carrying out his ideas. “I am Chavez” means that this person can be absent from his country but that his ideas are there, in the heart of every Venezuelan, in the heart of those who lead his party and his government.

The substantial resources produced by this country are invested in the country to improve the living conditions of the people. Health care, education, housing, culture, sports and employment are what most people appreciate as workers. All of this is being received by this noble people and they will defend it to the end.

The Bolivarian Revolution has benefited everyone, not just the poorest. Merchants and small manufacturers are also benefiting because with the improved living conditions and increased buying power of the population, consumption increases and revives the overall economy.

A clear message was sent on January 10 by this mass assembly in which many men and women carried signs with the words: “I Am Chavez.” It said that among the people there are many Chavezes and that the ideas Hugo Rafael have caught and spread like a revolutionary fire that no one can put out.

4 thoughts on “The Meaning of a Phrase ‘I Am Chavez’

  • “His foreign policy is simple: subsidize your friends and demonize your enemies. Taken directly from his Cuban playbook”

    Wrong playbook!

    One needs not look to Cuba with its limited resources for a model of such a policy…it has been the basis of US foreign policy as far back as you’d care to look. It’s only a shame that the US domestic policy hasn’t paralleled that of Cuba and Venezuela in more recent years, turning the benefits of the harvest of national resources back into concrete benefits for its people. Instead, while wealth has been concentrated in ever fewer hands, even the most feeble attempts to provide basic education and health care to the populous has met with rabid resistance.

  • “The Bolivarian Revolution has benefited everyone, not just the poorest”
    … That’s for sure. Chavez has helped enrich the Boli-bourgeoisie, the corrupt clique of supporters who have been siphoning off government funds through special contracts with the government. When the crash comes, and it will, it will be the poor who pay the price for the spending spree. Living large on a credit card is fun, until the bill come due.

  • “I am Chavez” is a slogan. No doubt sincerely held by his most fervent supporters but a slogan nonetheless. Nor does everyone in Venezuela support what you describe as the revolution. The best evidence for this is the 44% of the electorate who voted against Chavez in the October presidential election.

  • “…and spread like a revolutionary fire that no one can put out”. No one except the economy itself. Chavez has redirected the country’s oil revenues towards a host of “feel good” social services. Legendary Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was famous for filling potholes in the street because he knew that despite the high-minded notions that politicians often trumpet, people, especially poor people respond to what government can do for them personally and close to home. Chavez, despite the clown image, has proven to understand exactly how to meet the people where they are. Free and low-cost housing, education and medical services have made him a folk hero to poor Venezuelans. Yet they continue to live in a society dripping with corruption, riddled by high violent crime, and racked by food and energy shortages. Still, Chavez remains in power. At the same time he was handing out all these freebies to the poor, his cronies have been lining their pockets as well. This Bolibourgeosie is happy to faucet wide open to support Chavez socialist agenda so long as their grubby hands can keep collecting their cut. His foreign policy is simple: subsidize your friends and demonize your enemies. Taken directly from his Cuban playbook, when all else fails, blame the US. Fortunately, and unfortunately, Latin America has seen this all before. The Latin American strongman is nothing new. This is fortunate because he really has brought some economic relief to a long-suffering majority of Venezuelans. Unfortunately, because once again, Elio is wrong. This euphoria is short-lived. Venezuelans are not better off because they are more productive or because they have invested in their social and physical infrastructure. They scream his name from the streets because he has redistributed Venezuelan oil revenues. This is like a sugar-high, it feels good at first, then comes the crash.

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