Red T-shirted, empowered, politically conscious and active working people in their millions, demonstrating their support for the transformational measures effected in Venezuela, are the images most workers in Britain would associate with Hugo Chavez. These images do in fact reflect a deep reality. In the 14 years of his presidency Venezuela has shown defiance of imperialism, developed Latin American solidarity and incurred capitalism’s deep hostility.
Chavez’ electoral success, in what is now acknowledged to be the most transparent electoral system in the world, came despite a coup against him which was defeated by the people and economic sabotage in the oil industry in a so-called ‘strike’ by oil workers, employed and incited by the multinationals.
A great revolution has taken place, done peaceably by the deep involvement of the people in the transformation. The opposition, supported especially by the US and others abroad, were unable to deny the democratic legitimacy of Chavez and so described him as ‘populist’. They say he used Venezuela’s oil wealth to invest in health, education, housing and employment to ‘buy’ votes. Any policy where resources do not end up in the pockets of the multinationals, the world financiers and the local elite is called ‘unsustainable’ and considered not economically viable – ie not capitalist.