Evaluating the Chavez Legacy

Windhoek – “We are all Chavez,” was the declaration of the late Venezuelan President’s supporters.
But not everyone will remember President Hugo Chavez with the same warm sentiment as the millions of poor people who gave hope from the time he took over Venezuela back in 1998.
It is natural that he will have so many critics. After all, he challenged huge corporations and thus placed himself at loggerheads with the wealthy.
One British MP has said: “He will be remembered as a great figure of Latin America, one that spoke up for the indigenous people and the poor and changed the whole narrative of the politics of the continent towards redistribution of wealth and spending oil resources on people rather than returning it to distant multi-national companies.
“I think he will be remembered very warmly by a lot of very marginalised and very poor people across the continent …
“(British politicians) all recognise what an incredible figure he was politically … His legacy is one that has asserted Latin American cultural values and asserted Latin America in a way that very few leaders in the whole continent ever have.
“I think he'll be remembered … as somebody who stood up against very difficult odds.”
One of the most colourful figures on the world stage, he styled himself as a leader of global anti-imperialism which was reflected in his international allies.
His relations with the US ranged from strained to outright hostile and they were at their lowest during George W Bush's Presidency.
Who can forgot Chavez at the UN, addressing the General Assembly a day after Bush, saying the devil was here yesterday and the place still smells of sulphur?
His strongest regional ally was Bolivia's President Evo Morales, who stood with Chavez in the fight against neo-liberalism and imperialism.
Chavez was a vocal critic of Israel and severed diplomatic ties following the 2008-2009 Gaza offensives.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for a day of mourning describing him as a martyr. “Venezuela lost its brave, strong son and the world lost a wise and revolutionary leader,” he said; while President Morales said “he is now more alive than ever”.
So how will the world remember President Hugo Chavez?
This is a question that will always remain in debate, but there is no denying that Venezuela and the world have lost a truly remarkable figure.


March 2013
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