Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won a resounding victory in last weekend’s elections. If you’ve been following U.S. corporate media coverage of the campaign, that may have come as a surprise to you. Chavez is routinely referred to as a “strongman” and other variations on “dictator” by the U.S. media when, in fact, he remains one of the most popular persons in all of Latin America. In the United States, his ten percent winning margin would be considered a landslide, but all the American media can talk about after Chavez’s latest victory at the polls is how much his lead has shrunk since the 2006 election, when he won by 25 percent.
Every time Chavez and his Bolivarian socialists win at the polls, the corporate media have to eat crow. One would think all that heartburn would force the U.S. press to finally admit that Chavez is the leader of oil rich Venezuela because large majorities of its citizens want him in the presidential palace, and are enjoying the fruits of his wealth distribution policies.
It is also impossible for American media, which are mouthpieces for their corporate owners and take their day-to-day cues from the State Department and the White House, to understand that most Venezuelans agree with Chavez when he denounces the imperialists in Washington. They knew what Chavez meant when he called President Bush “the devil” and said that he stank of sulfur, back in 2006. Venezuelans remembered how Bush backed a coup that almost toppled Chavez in 2002 – a coup that was reversed by a counter-rebellion of the people and loyal soldiers. They remember that the coup leaders’ first act was to abolish the Constitution and start drawing up lists of people to be thrown into prison, or worse. They remember the dark days when nearly all of Latin America was placed under the rule of generals allied with Washington, and the hands of the torturers and the death squads could reach into every family with impunity. They know who was the author of that nightmare: the United States.
That’s why Latin America is the corner of the world that has achieved the greatest success over the last 20 years in throwing off the dead weight of the North, by rejecting the so-called Washington Consensus. And that’s why, this time around, the Venezuelan opposition chose a candidate who pretended to be a leftist, himself. Challenger Henrique Capriles, a young state governor, styled himself as a protégé of former Brazilian president “Lula” da Silva, a more business-friendly type of leftwing politician. But Venezuela’s poor know who the opposition really are: affluent, mostly light-skinned people that live in swank neighborhoods and whose hearts dwell in Miami. The people who draw cartoons in opposition newspapers depicting Chavez as a monkey and openly sneer at his mixed race heritage – the heritage of most Venezuelans. They know what real democracy feels like, because they remember what living under the yoke of a rich white minority felt like. Democracy is having a government that’s not made up of those people whose hearts are in Miami. Democracy calls the top Yankee a devil, and the people cheer, and then the people vote.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Chavez Wins Venezuelan Presidential Election with 54% of the Vote (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- A Hall of Shame for Venezuelan Elections Coverage (alethonews.wordpress.com)