How Hugo Chavez helped liberate South America from the United States’ toxic influence

In the Toronto Star, Tony Burman writes: When Chavez was elected in 1998, his government replaced decades of corrupt and greedy rule by political and business elites — openly supported by the United States — who squandered the nation’s wealth.

During his years as president, millions of Venezuelans received health care for the first time. Extreme poverty was reduced by 70 per cent and access to public education increased dramatically. Illiteracy has virtually been eradicated. Above all, the vast Venezuelan majority, marginalized and ignored by governments in past decades, assumed a dignity and pride of place that had been unheard of in the modern Latin American political culture.

Since September 2001, the United States has virtually ignored the region, and the Latin American response has been eye-opening. The populist approach by Chavez, which challenged conventional political and economic thinking, has been contagious.

This is the one region that did not respond to the 2008 global recession with across-the-board austerity. Instead, several governments expanded public services, reduced poverty and inequality, and nationalized key industries. The result has been strong economies and a string of popular governments that have actually been reelected.

Apart from Chavez, who won last October’s presidential election in Venezuela with an 11 per cent margin, the latest example of this is Rafael Correa, reelected last month as Ecuador’s president with 57 per cent of the vote. Last year, Latin America’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, was elected in Bolivia and, in 2009, Dilma Rousseff was voted in as president of Brazil.

The distinction of Latin America in today’s global political context is that it is far more independent of the United States than other regions, such as Europe or — dare I say — Canada. And that is a staggering irony given its history in the past century of being a virtual vassal, or doormat, of the U.S. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwittermail

1 thought on “How Hugo Chavez helped liberate South America from the United States’ toxic influence

  1. delia ruhe

    “The distinction of Latin America in today’s global political context is that it is far more independent of the United States than other regions, such as Europe or — dare I say — Canada. And that is a staggering irony given its history in the past century of being a virtual vassal, or doormat, of the U.S.”

    I would put Canada at the top of that list. It was greed for short-term profit that made selling out Canada’s natural resources to the US under the euphemism of “free” trade. But I’m glad that at least someplace escaped its fate as the “virtual vassal, or doormat” — or backyard, where Washington buried all its murdered whores.

    Chavez was just the right mix of showman and continental leader. He was not satisfied that only Venezuela should take advantage of a break in Washington’s concentration while Dubya lusted after Saddam’s oil. He moved to urge the rest of Latin America to get united, ‘and here’s some cash and some cheap oil that should help you get this independence project off the ground.’

    Nothing makes the declining West look stupider or more in decline than the hysterically paranoid anti-Chavez propaganda campaign. Not to mention the failure of Washington to get its favourite strategy — divide and conquer — to work on the “good” leftists and the “bad” leftists of South America.

Comments are closed.