President Chavez of Venezuela

President Chavez of Venezuela

From Greg Palast

In ten years of free market free-for-all, industrialization in Venezuela dropped from 18% of GNP to 13%.  And Venezuela fared best. Elsewhere in Latin America, economies simply imploded.  And NAFTA created employment only in a fetid trench along the Rio Grande, the ‘maquiladora’ sweatshops which suck down wages on both sides of the Mexico-US border.

We finished our conversation as the President walked in.  Hugo Chavez is not one for subtleties.  “FTAA is the PATH TO HELL,” said Chavez.

He meant this in the deepest theological sense.  What is at stake for Chavez is Latin America’s mortal soul.  “I have seen children shot to death,” said the president, “not by an invading Army but by our own nation’s soldiers.”

Chavez was referring to February 27, 1989.  While the Northern Hemisphere was celebrating the impending fall of the Berlin Wall, “another wall was going up,” he explained, “the wall of globalization.” That day, the army massacred Venezuelans, young and old, during a demonstration against diktats of the International Monetary Fund imposed on that nation.

The President raced through a dozen more examples, from Bolivia to Chiapas, Mexico, where the miracle of the marketplace came out of the barrel of a gun.

Chavez is amazing. He’s survived a US-inspired coup attempt, has put Venezuela firmly on a Leftist populist path, counts Castro as a close friend and ally – and the right wing zealots in DC, try as they might, can’t depose him.