Remembering President Hugo Chavez Frias
Gabriel J. Christian, Esq.
The fox which seeks entry into the chicken coop either feigns innocence or disinterest in his prey so as to lull the farmer into inattention. However, no one who desires to rectify historic wrongs can be asleep on his or her watch. And we must honor those who were alert to their historic duty; in particular those who guarded the best interests of the poor.
On March 5, 2013, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez passed into history. His short life will be recalled as one of unparalleled generosity toward the poor of Venezuela, the Americas – and even those poor in the United States. I state without fear of contradiction that there has been no leader in charge of an oil rich nation who dared to challenge the oil monopolies as he did. Neither has another such leader existed who diverged from the historic selfishness and venality of many leaders of oil rich nations to share the wealth of his nation with others less fortunate. Scan the global landscape, and no such systematic outreach and assistance based on sharing wealth derived from oil can be found. For that, he earned the hostility of the elites.
Yes, Chavez may have been – at times – dramatic. He was not a perfect man, as perfection reigns only in heaven. Yet, how many lives did he take? Or, indeed, how many lives were threatened by actions born of a sincere Christian love? We must talk now of the lives he saved by the various social missions in Venezuela and around the Americas – some further afield. We must remind all that – despite being called a dictator – he won every election fair and square when put to the test. His rule was rooted in a popular democracy, and a high rate of electability, that even his enemies were compelled to admit.
A victim of withering criticism by the rich and powerful, they sought his overthrow – and did succeed in toppling him in the vicious coup de etat of April 2002. Regrettably, the George Bush administration supported that fascist coup with a wink and a nod, despite its hypocritical claims to being supportive of democracy. It was only the valiant uprising of the masses of Venezuelans, and the actions of patriotic elements of their armed forces, which swept him back into power three days later. Crestfallen by the popular support for President Chavez, the eminent televangelist, Pat Robertson, showed his heart. He casted off his cassock of faux Christian piety and revealed the true feelings of many of his ilk when he called for the assassination of the President of Venezuela on live television. Now he has gotten his wish, may they be constrained from dancing on his grave.
In the days ahead, many will gather in tribute to a leader whose work benefited humble Venezuelans, Dominicans and the downtrodden across our Americas. His final farewell will resound for the ages and will be a rebuke to those who think nothing of killing those with whom they disagree. For us, those who appreciated his efforts in pursuit of justice, we will remember him in the good we do. As another great Caribbean leader said when eulogizing the 73 Cubans and other Caribbean students who were killed when their plane was blown out of the sky off Barbados in 1976 by terrorists: When an energetic and virile people cry, injustice trembles!!