Wednesday, May 9, 2012

¡Viva, Chávez! by Cindy Sheehan

¡Viva, Chávez!

Cindy Sheehan

Chávez and Sheehan in Montevideo, Uruguay

It breaks my heart and pisses me off when I hear horrible and untrue things about President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and I admire his courage to stand up the The Empire in the north and try to make things better for the 99% of Venezuela.

President Chávez is battling a foe even more powerful than The Empire: cancer. When the news first came out last June, many media pundits had already killed the leftist leader and one terrible Fox News scum Tweeted that everyone should “pray for the death of Hugo Chåvez.” I can’t recall the lowlife’s name right now, but it really doesn’t matter. Rightwing Christian, Pat Robertson, openly called for the assassination of Chávez, and the irony is, if one looks at the New Testament works and words of Jesus, Chávez more closely models what the Catholic Church calls the “Corporal Works of Mercy” than any leader or any Christo-Fascist in the USA.

I have been to Venezuela three times and had significant meetings and interactions with Chávez the firs two times, but the third time was Memorial Weekend in 2011, when the first stirrings of his illness were flying around and, in fact, our only contact with him was through Twitter posts at the rally I attended and spoke.

My first visit to Venezuela coincided with the World Social Forum in Caracas and I have to admit that the only thing I really knew about Chávez and Venezuela at the time was that he was the “enemy of my enemy,” George Bush and I thought his rhetoric was brave and wonderful. I spoke at several events in Caracas, was on Aló Presidente with Chávez, and met with him at Miraflores, the Presidential Palace, where he showed us some of the places where the 2002 coup attempt happened: a living, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised.” Compared to the politicians I know and worked with in the US, except for very few exceptions, Chávez is overwhelmingly more human and real than they are. 

However, when I returned to the US after my first trip to Venezuela, I was surprised at the attacks I received from what passes for the left here in this country and I was even summoned to Arianna Huffington who scolded me for meeting with Chávez—and I am still not sure why except that Arianna is a former Repug who has barely evolved into a liberal, much less a radical left-winger. So, I really began to delve into the subject of Chávez, the Bolivarian Revolution and the similar paths he has inspired in the civil societies in Latin America and I was relieved to find that I was justified in my support of him.

In 2010, I applied for and received permission to interview President Chávez and the audio of that interview can be found at this link. On that trip, I also traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay to attend the inauguration of Pepe Mujica and I witnessed the outpouring of love from the people of Uruguay to Hugo Chávez, who at one point, left his vehicle to stride right into the crowd to shake hands and be with the people--a nightmare situation for his security team, but when someone is loved and admired by the people, that person has little to fear from the people.

Unlike our misleaders who give lip service to the 99% while simultaneously reducing social programs and increasing oppression, Chávez has worked diligently to implement the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that was written by representatives of the people and voted into law by the people. The people are the only ones that can change it—not the 1% by nearly impossible conditions.

Everything that the establishment in our government or the press says about Chávez and his government are either outright lies or scandalous distortions and for 46 years, I was more liable to believe the lies than search out the truth, but all that ended when my son was killed in Iraq.

Chávez sincerely loves the people of Venezuela because they saved his life when he was deposed with the help of the US and returned to power. Due to the people, he has survived a US sponsored coup attempt, a US sponsored recall attempt and several elections. Chávez comes from a very poor family and he knows what it’s like and he knows what needs to be done to make the economy more equitable and conditions more livable.

The 99% love him because he made dignity through education and political empowerment part of his program. Once the people have awaken, it’s impossible to put them back to sleep.

I read the news about his condition and I have seen video of him the few times he has appeared lately and I am very concerned. My contacts in Venezuela and here in the US are optimistic, but I don’t know if it’s just hope against hope that he will be okay and survive this latest crisis or it’s stalling because elections are in October in Venezuela; Both, probably.

I don’t pray anymore because the last time I prayed with all my being, my son was killed in Iraq and I am not so sure I even believe in the God that Chávez is clinging to right now, but if I did pray, I would pray that he recovers fully and that he can continue to inspire us and lead the way. Because I want we here who live in The Empire to wake up to the fact that we are being robbed of our basic human and civil rights and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Even if the unthinkable happens and Chávez goes before his time, I have witnessed enormous pride and dignity in the people of Venezuela and I don’t think they will let their hard fought gains go easily or quietly, but I also know there are powerful forces at work to undermine the Revolution.

No matter which way this goes, I am honored to know Hugo Chávez, not only a courageous and inspiring leader, but a good and decent human being. 

¡Viva, Chávez! And ¡Viva la revolución Bolivariana!

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