|At Miraflores in Caracas. January 2006|
Hugo Chavez Frias, Presente!
A wonderful human being has passed.
What do I do when I am angry, happy, or sad? I write.
Back in 2004, shortly after my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, a grief counselor advised me to write a letter to my son in a journal every night. I filled up three journals in the terrible months after his death. I often wrote at his grave and those journals did help me deal with the unspeakable loss.
Today, I write from a great well of sadness, but not just for me, for the world. My dear friend in peace and justice, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, just lost his fierce and valiant battle with cancer.
Many people know about Hugo Chavez, the president, and constant thorn in the side to El Imperio the meddlesome and harmful Empire to the north. But I want to eulogize Chavez the man I knew.
He was my dear friend and comrade in a way where we were united in the struggle for peace and economic justice and equality. It’s not like I could text him, or we would chat about current events, but whenever I had the privilege to be with him, warmth radiated from his heart and I was able to connect with him in very real and human ways. Compared to the palpable realness of Chavez, most of the US politicians I have met with are walking and talking ice sculptures.
The first time I met him in Caracas was in early 2006 at the World Social Forum. I had been invited to sit on the stage while he gave a speech to those gathered there from around the world. He introduced me as, “Señora Esperanza,” “Mrs. Hope,” in contrast to his nickname for George Bush: “Señor Peligro,” “Mr. Danger.” However, our brother, Hugo Chavez, was the one who gave us much hope.
I have met and interviewed so many people in Venezuela whose lives were immeasurably improved by the vision and dedication of Hugo Chavez. How can one put a price on going from being illiterate to being able to read? A 65-year-old woman told me her life was transformed by the adult literacy program. It really made me appreciate the fact that I have always known how to read (it seems). What would I have done without my best friends, my books? Wow. I guess Capitalism would tally the cost of educating one student and, of course education here in the US is now just another commodity, but the look of wonder in my Sister’s eyes was priceless!
Another woman showed me her perfect teeth in a huge grin. She told me that her teeth used to be so bad, that she would never smile before, but now, due to her new set of false teeth provided by the national dental program, she walks around grinning like a lunatic all day, which made me laugh with joy! Again, Capitalism would say: One set of false teeth equals X amount of dollars. I say, being able to smile after years of embarrassing humiliation is worth more than any amount of gold.
Those are just two stories out of millions and my heart breaks with sorrow for the People of the Bolivarian Revolution that must be even more devastated than I, today.
I witnessed Chavez the proud “abuelo” (grandpa) once on a long flight from Caracas to Montevideo that I took with them. We chatted about out “nietos” (grandchildren) and felt a mutual connection there. I hugged my grandbabies a little harder today when I found out that Chavez died, because I know the wonderful connection that he had with his. My heart breaks for his children and his family, and his brother, Adan, who seemed to be constantly at his side. It’s just a very hard day.
I was with Chavez in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the presidential inauguration of Felipé Mujica. I was amazed that Chavez could just plunge into the crowds and interact with the people without a phalanx of bodyguards, anti-aircraft missiles and assault weapons. His security detail was prepared, but not paranoid like up here in the Empire. Someone who is universally loved by the 99% need have no fear. Chavez had no fear.
Chavez’s courageous battle against the Empire was more successful than his battle against cancer. Chavez was able to inspire more leftist leaders in Latin America and my friends in Cuba will always be grateful for the friendship between Venezuela and Cuba. The struggle against neo-liberalism and the Empire has been far advanced under Chavez’s inspirational leadership.
This is a sad day and I am angry that the so-called leaders of my own country made Chavez’s life a virtual hell, but he survived one coup attempt and the many other attempts through the media and financing of his opposition to undermine the revolution.
When in the hell is this country going to mind it’s own goddamn business and realize that not every drop of oil belongs to our oil companies and not every democratically elected leader must pledge undying obsequiousness to the Evil Empire?
I am immensely proud of Chavez and I am immensely proud of the people of Venezuela who have worked with him to improve their lives and because they really understand the concept of “national sovereignty.”
I know the upper echelons of The Empire think they have won a victory today (if it didn’t give Chavez his cancer in the first place—don’t even start and say I am a “conspiracy theorist” everyone knows that the Empire is fully capable of it, they couldn’t kill him, or depose him, outright) and all the oil will now flow back into the hands of our big oil companies, but The Empire underestimates the people of Venezuela and their dedication to the Bolivarian Revolution and love for their leader, Hugo Chavez.
As we sorrowfully say, “vaya con la paz” to our Brother, Hugo Chavez, let’s also say, “long live the revolution.”
Chavez will never die if we honor his vision and continue our struggle against The Empire.
US Presidents come and go with destructive, yet boring and predictable regularity and are numbered for History's convenience when they should all have had black and white striped clothing and be behind bars. However, it is my belief that Hugo Chavez Frias will go down in World History as one of the most significant figures of the early 21st Century and his passing is a tragic and profound loss to us all, as his life was an inspiration.
A-dios, Señor Esperanza.
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!