Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Compañero Hugo Chavez: ¡Presente!

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, 1954-2013, Rest In Power!

Via a friend on facebook:


Because you know
That pain is not
Our motherland

That suffering
Is not our
Divine right
That heaven is
What we make
On earth

Like houses
And bread

Because you come
From the heart
Of the soil

And do not sprinkle us
With holy water
Pie-in-the-sky lies and
Ashes to ashes dust to dust

Because you know
That your big mouth
And your curly hair

Is African
And your brown skin
And dark eyes is Indian

Because you don’t point
To Europe for
Beauty or salvation

Because you know
As Che and Fidel and
Maurice Bishop and Roque Dalton
And Walter Rodney
And Neruda and Allende
And Patrice Lamumba

That life is what
We make with our

Because you know as Jesus
That it is not difficult to
Multiply bread and fish

That oil is not
The lifeblood
Of the earth

That it should not
Run through our veins
Like fear

Because you are David
In the shadow
Of Goliath

And know that
The price of freedom
Is love

Tony Medina::

Design celebrating the "Perfect Victory" of Chavez in the recent presidential election
Comandante Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela and master instigator of the Bolivarian revolution, died today. I read the news sitting at my computer at work: I was caught by surprise at the tears that welled up in my eyes.

There is surely much to be said about the inadequacies of Chavez's revolution. I'm a person who believes in the need for the people themselves to create vehicles of people's power that can challenge state power: I'm for broad, mass, horizontal organizing not condescending saviors. I'm for revolutions that are unequivocal when it comes to tossing out old regimes and corporate structures and state powers. But somehow, despite all that, I came to love and admire Hugo Chavez.

I read the paper. I follow the news. I remember when the CIA tried to overthrow him, nearly successfully, and it's been impossible to miss how much every institution of capitalist power from the government to the liberal media have despised him for dodging that bullet ever since. But I regretfully confess I haven't studied the Bolivarian revolution, and I'm only peripherally aware of how deep the institutions of popular power run; how integral the Venezuelan people are to their revolution.

But I remember when Chavez visited the United Nations in 2006. Alone among the leaders of the world he told the truth about George Bush and the American reign of terror across the globe. With wit, humor, and gentle bravado he won my heart when he told the truth about the reek of sulfur left over from the U.S. delegation.

This world is mad. This carnivorous monster of neoliberalism and imperialism, the United States of America, steals from the entire planet so that its corporations can acquire obscene quantities of cash. Armed to the teeth with obscene invisible weapons that deal random death from the skies abroad, and lined wall to wall with prisons that beat its poor black and brown citizens into fine filaments of submission; this so-called free world is the great beast that Chavez dared challenge. Obscenely, the liberal echo chamber in this country yells "Dictator!" at Chavez while tightly closing their memory to the thousands of people arrested during the mass coordinated repression of the Occupy movement. While pretending not to wonder where all those African-American men might be since they know there are no jobs for them. While averting their eyes to the pictures, not so hard to find, of dead children killed by American drones in an ever lengthening list of countries. (Yes, there's drone base in Africa, in Niger, now. shutupidon'twanttohearabout that). ICBMs tucked safely out of sight at their backs, the liberals rattle off the list, larger now than George Bush's axis of evil, of all the little countries bullying the poor United States. It begins to sound desperate. Chavez....dictator. ...terrorists....Hezbollah is active in Venezuela! A mantra for all occasions requiring neocolonial reassurance. Paranoid fantasism from the most powerful, dangerously aggressive nation on earth.

Calmly, coolly, Chavez faced that beast down. "Like Allende, we're pacifists and democrats. Unlike Allende, we're armed," he said.

I hate that we have lost him now. It's our duty to prove him right, that the world doesn't have to be this way, that people have the power to right the wrongs of this world. I don't know what would have happened in Venezuela had he stayed in power. And I don't know what will happen in the whole world, or even here in Brooklyn, now that he's gone. Whatever the faults of who he was, the limitations of what he tried to do, the realpolitik that all too often clouded his message, his loss to the world revolutionary struggle is immense. But the struggle is not lost, and what inspires us about him will continue to do so. All we have to do is...the right thing. As Assata says. "It is our duty to fight, it is our duty to win."

If you've not seen it, watch this absolutely incredible film about the rightwing/CIA coup that Chavez defeated in 2002. It's more exciting than any fictional political thriller. Watch this film and know right from wrong.

One final thought: Under Chavez' leadership, this statue of Christopher Columbus, architect of genocide, was pulled down in Caracas as Columbus Day was renamed "Day of Indigenous Resistance." Pretty much says it all.


  1. Nice to bump into someone else who liked Chavez. We're few and far between, it seems. I was struck by his death because he seemed so vital. How could cancer claim such a powerful man? He had a good run. I hope he's remembered.

  2. one of the most potent eulogies i've read on chavez. such an enormous loss for us freedom fighters. found this interesting vid when following up on hunch i had:
    anyway i miss the old blog & would love an invite to the private music side of things as well, if possible. thanks for all you do. hugs --
    owlmighty (at) gmail (dot) com