“Ese Mono”

The darker majorities of Latin America mourn the passing of the people’s champion, President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, the man whom the racist white Venezuelan elite called ese mono – “that monkey.” Since 1998 – with a 48-hour break during the 2002, U.S.-sponsored coup – the four-fifths of Venezuela that is some variety of Indigenous-mestizo-mullato-African – like Chavez – has known power for the first time since the conquistadors of Western Europe launched their 500-year war against the rest of planet Earth.

South America’s emergence as the most promising zone of resistance to U.S. imperial savagery is inseparable from the dark awakening in the barrios, favelas, rural villages and native highlands of the continent. Chavez’s triumph, and that of the Aymara-descended Bolivian president, Evo Morales, in 2005, are the most dramatic expressions of what has been called the “Latin Spring” – a reclamation of national patrimony that is, by historical necessity, socialist. As a result, a large majority of South Americans now live under relatively progressive governments.

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 was, of course, the great hemispheric breakaway from Yankee empire in the 20th century, the seminal event in the disintegration of what later came to be called the “Washington Consensus” in Latin America. Chavez’s victory, almost 40 years later, was the other shoe dropping, a phenomenon nearly as racially-weighted, in Latin American terms, as the Haitian Revolution that culminated in 1804. Fidel, the son of a Spanish soldier, declared that “the blood of Africa runs deep in our veins” and that Cuba is an “African Spanish” nation. However, that reality was hardly visible in the Cuban hierarchy. Not so, with Chavez, the pardo whose lineage was obvious and proudly worn. “My Indian roots are from my father’s side. He is mixed Indian and black, which makes me very proud,” said Chavez – a circumstance of birth and pride that made the whites of affluent east Caracas neighborhoods like Altamira spitting mad, hysterical in their hatred. The racial-political color line has long been plain to see in the complexions of pro- and anti-government demonstrations in Venezuela.

The purported “ambiguity” of race in South America is largely limited to those who belong to the innumerable subgroups of the Not-White, in all their flavors. However, for the fraction of the population that believe themselves to be purely European, there is no ambiguity; they know precisely who they are (or claim to be). Color lines may be fuzzy among the mixed race majorities of much of Latin America, but white elites quickly bring these boundaries into stark relief when fundamental questions of privilege and power arise. Popular power means the rule of people like “that monkey,” Chavez – illegitimate and bestial.

U.S. corporate media speak the language of the pale denizens of Altamira. For 14 years, they have painted the Bolivarian Republic as illegitimate, dictatorial, primitive. Chavez is delegitimized as a “strongman,” rather than a remarkably popular politician and icon who has won more elections than any other head of state in the western hemisphere during the same space of time. As former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said, last year: “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”…


Confounding was the Australian‘s (newspaper) recent op-ed titled, “Death of a ruthless autocrat,” in regards to the late Hugo Chavez. Confounding not for the op-ed’s condemnation of socialist policies or its criticism of Hugo Chavez, an obstruction to Western corporate-financier interests in South America for over a decade, but because of the obscene hypocrisy displayed throughout, from a newspaper and a corporate-financier-academic establishment in Australia that coddles a figure in nearby Thailand that is every bit as guilty of everything it accuses Chavez of.

Image: When is blood-red socialism OK (Thailand) and when is it “ruthless autocracy” (Venezuela)? The answer depends on whether or not you serve Wall Street and London’s international order. Contrary to popular belief, socialism is not a unified global ideology and is instead like any tool – only as good or bad as the hands it finds itself in. The use of socialism by two governments no more indicates an affiliation than would guns in the hands of two opposing armies on a battlefield…


Also related:

A little over a year ago, Chavez went on Venezuelan national radio and said: “I don’t know but… it is very odd that we have seen Lugo affected by cancer, Dilma when she was a candidate, me, going into an election year, not long ago Lula and now Cristina… It is very hard to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some leaders in Latin America. It’s at the very least strange, very strange.”

Strange indeed… so strange that if you think Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Paraguayan Fernando Lugo, and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – Latin America’s top anti-US empire leaders – all just happened to contract cancer around the same time by sheer chance, you must be some kind of crazy coincidence theorist….


A little history:

In 2002 after a CIA and Bush White House backed coup, they loaded the democratically elected Hugo Chavez on a helicopter and flew him out over the ocean while the head of the local Chamber of Commerce was sworn in as the new “president’ amid the polite but enthusiastic applause of many Venezuelan businessmen. It was all over an increase in the royalties the big oil companies were going to have to pay the people of Venezuela for taking the oil that belonged to them. Prior to the hydrocarbon law of 2001, they had only been paying back a mere 1%. That was increased to 16.5% cutting Big Oil’s share from 85% to 70. They planned to overthrow him and kill him for a mere 15%… that was the price of the demolition of democracy in 2002. The Big Oil linked “president” from the Chamber of Commerce lasted a day and during that time he disbanded the National Assembly and the Supreme Court (yes folks, there are such things in the “communist dictatorship” of Venezuela). Chavez had seen this coming though and while a march of a million Venezuelans approached and surrounded the presidential palace where the businessmen were plotting their Shah-like dictatorship (perhaps Pinochet is a better reference?), the people and a band of loyal commandos breached the security of the palace and basically told the future dictator and one-day “president” “Bring back Hugo or die. It’s that simple”. Without their buddies in the CIA or drones close at hand, the coup leaders agreed and put in a call to the helicopter with the legitimate president on it, and then they were arrested….


Chavez’s triumph:

When we lose people that are indispensible to us, nothing may change on the surface: we are still walking, eating sleeping, working, even fighting. The void, the gaping hole is what dominates our hearts and our souls.

Yesterday, the President of Venezuela and one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of mankind – Hugo Chavez – passed away, and the world is still moving by inertia. Buildings did not collapse, continents did not sink, and the wars and misery ravaging many parts of the world did not stop.

Yet something changed. Three beautiful muses that have been inspiring so many millions all over the world, turned into widows, at least for one day or two. Their names are: Love, Faith and Hope.

Some ask: is it really wise to make an entire country, an entire revolution dependent, and reliant on one single man?

My answer is simple: people like Chavez are born infrequently, too rarely. It would be a historical anomaly for two giants of his size to live in the same period of time, in the same city, and even in the same country.

Yet his words and deeds were simple and pragmatic: poor people have to be housed, fed, educated and given medical care, and above all, they have to be armed with dignity. And the wealthy world, which became rich through plunder, colonial expansions and unmatchable brutality, has to stop terrorizing and looting; the countries of Europe and North America have to be forced to behave like members of the international community consisting of states with equal rights, instead of what they have been accustomed to for decades and centuries: a bunch of thugs living above the law.

Hugo Chavez was a man who appeared to come from a different era, where Western propaganda, indoctrination and surveillance had not yet broken the free spirit of men and women. He stood tall, spoke loudly and coherently, naming names, and pointing fingers. He was not afraid of his own people…


Cindy Sheehan weighs in:

…A-dios, Señor Esperanza. [Goodbye, Mr. Hope]

Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. Your light is far too bright to be extinguished by something as cruel as death and your light shines in all of us whose hearts burn with revolution and love for all the people.

My life and our world are far better today because of your life and the struggle continues until victory! 


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