Miseries in the name of Freedom: A response to the Irish Times.

The Venezuelan presidential elections take place on the 7th October. Polls show that Hugo Chávez is likely to win. Unsurprisingly, the Western liberal press, concerned with propagating resignation in the face of intensified neo-liberalism and anti-democratic constitutionalism in the US and Europe, takes a dim view of such a development.

The Irish Times is no exception.

A tawdry editorial yesterday sought to judge Chávez against the ‘radical democratic, anti-imperialist’ standards set by Simón Bolívar, and in so doing recognised advances during the Chávez era in terms of health, education and poverty reduction. This is a curious act of political crossdressing by the Irish Times, which gives unstinting support for right-wing economic policies and rarely has a word of criticism for even the most egregious excesses of US imperialism. It’s safe to say that the Irish Times is unlikely to ever express an agreement with Bolívar’s assessment that “the United States seems destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom”.

I posted this response:

‘The ‘undoubted advances in health and education, and the substantial reductions in poverty levels’ to which the Irish Times refers, are the direct consequence of an immense popular mobilisation, for which Chávez was and continues to be the figurehead, against neo-liberal economic and social policies, which drove vast swathes of the population into poverty.  

 Fiscal austerity, privatisation of state companies, destruction of labour rights: it was against all these things that the poor and working people mobilised. These were policies imposed by a Venezuelan oligarchy and supported by a press that reflected -and still reflects- the views of a wealthy elite that identifies more with centres of imperial power than with the poor people living a few miles down the road.  

 It is therefore nauseating to read an account of recent Venezuelan history from a paper which day-in, day-out, supports the application of precisely the same policies in Ireland, presents them as a self-evident necessity, and never misses an opportunity to either demonise, smear, or simply blot from public view any attempt at precisely the kind of radically democratic, popular mobilisations that might reverse the application of such policies.’

And an addendum:

‘This article implies that a Chávez defeat would be most welcome to Lula. So what are we to make of Lula’s statement last month that: ‘”A victory for Chávez is not just a victory for the people of Venezuela but also a victory for all the people of Latin America … this victory will strike another blow against imperialism.”‘?  

 See here.

The author of the linked piece claims that Venezuela ‘is probably the most lied-about country in the world’. This leader column doesn’t exactly prove him wrong.’

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