Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Chavez passes.

I have been following Hugo Chavez’s, president of Venezuela, for some time now. He’s been struggling with cancer for some time, and spending a lot of time in Cuba seeking treatment. Now it’s been confirmed he’s died in Cuba, after having been out of sight for some time.

Online, and on cable news, I've seen a lot of excited talk at his death, giddiness to see him gone. Others are quite upset to see him gone. Me? I’m ambivalent.

I first really noticed Chavez way back during an attempted coupe to remove him. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't being covered for awhile on US news, so I had to rely on Univision for news. As they actually had reporters in the country, while the US services had no one remotely close. And I remember the talk afterward about whether the US and Bush had anything to do with the attempt to remove him. I've never seen any evidence to prove that.

But since then he’s become more known for being a pain in the side of the Bush administration. During his second term he cemented the friendship with Cuba. He made deals and offered oil at times to aggravate the White House. He was friendly with nations that the US was in diplomatic fights with. And he would make speeches to meant to mock and piss off the US (Remember the, “I smell the devil speech”?).

And if you had your troubles and dislike of GW Bush and the policies of his administration, you may have enjoyed his cajoling some. I may have, or I at least didn't seem overwhelmed by his jeers.

Still, I have never been a fan of the concept of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if we are talking about “‘enemies’”, “frenemies”, or the current party in power with who I disagree. Remember how hostile Alex Jones was to the White House during Bush? A lot of liberals enjoyed listening to his wild conspiracies then. And Chavez has told some amazing stories himself.

But important is what he brought to the country. Going back to the coup against him. he’s been facing off with business interests. This includes oil execs. And with the history in Central and South America of multinational business pushing governments around, or having the US do it, it’s hard to not like seeing them not get their way. Though it seems, here in the US, some are salivating now at the chance to get back in.

Now, Chavez’s legacy will stand on more than this. And it’s important to get past the conservative pap. Past the ties to Cuba being damning, or the fact he played at being the great socialist, or talking back to America.

So, if you want to consider some of the issues that have arose in Chavez’s time in power, that maybe we should hope will change with the Vice President coming power. try Think Progress’s piece.

It is worth noting how he treated some groups in Venezuela, how he used the media, how the poor fared, how long since international monitors were allowed to watch elections,  and how much power he consolidated in the executive.

And a more positive view.

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