President Chavez: A 21st Century Renaissance Man

March 15th, 2013

James Petras

Introduction

President Hugo Chavez was unique in multiple areas of political, social and economic life. He made significant contributions to the advancement of humanity. The depth, scope and popularity of his accomplishments mark President Chavez as the ‘Renaissance President of the 21st Century’.

Many writers have noted one or another of his historic contributions highlighting his anti-poverty legislation, his success in winning popular elections with resounding majorities and his promotion of universal free public education and health coverage for all Venezuelans.

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Venezuelan Elections: a Choice and Not an Echo

October 3rd, 2012

James Petras

Introduction

On October 7th, Venezuelan voters will decide whether to support incumbent President Hugo Chavez or opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. The voters will choose between two polar opposite programs and social systems: Chavez calls for the expansion of public ownership of the means of production and consumption, an increase in social spending for welfare programs, greater popular participation in local decision-making, an independent foreign policy based on greater Latin American integration, increases in progressive taxation, the defense of free public health and educational programs and the defense of public ownership of oil production. In contrast Capriles Radonski represents the parties and elite who support the privatization of public enterprises, oppose the existing public health and educational and social welfare programs and favor neo-liberal policies designed to subsidize and expand the role and control of foreign and local private capital. While Capriles Radonski claims to be in favor of what he dubs “the Brazilian model” of “free markets and social welfare”, his political and social backers, in the past and present, are strong advocates of free trade agreements with the US, restrictions on social spending and regressive taxation. Unlike the US, the Venezuelan voters have a choice and not an echo: two candidates representing distinct social classes, with divergent socio-political visions and international alignments. Chavez stands with Latin America, opposes US imperial intervention everywhere, is a staunch defender of self-determination and supporter of Latin American integration. Capriles Radonski is in favor of free trade agreements with the US, opposes regional integration, supports US intervention in the Middle East and is a diehard supporter of Israel. In the run-up to the elections, as was predictable the entire US mass media has been saturated with anti-Chavez and pro-Capriles propaganda, predicting a ‘victory’ or at least a close outcome for Washington’s protégé.

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Latin America: Growth, Stability and Inequalities: Lessons for the US and EU

October 2nd, 2011

James Petras

Introduction: Images of the Past

The image of Latin America portrayed by the mass media and held by the educated public is a region of frequent coups, periodical revolutions, perpetual military dictatorships, alternating boom and bust economies and an ever-present International Monetary Fund (IMF) dictating economic policy.

In contrast the same opinion makers plus their academic counterparts project images of the United States and the European Union as stable societies, with steady economic growth, incremental expansion of social welfare programs, resolving issues via consensual compromises and practicing sound fiscal policies.

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Chavez’s Right Turn: State Realism versus International Solidarity

June 14th, 2011

James Petras

Introduction

The radical “Bolivarian Socialist” government of Hugo Chavez has arrested a number of Colombian guerrilla leaders and a radical journalist with Swedish citizenship and handed them over to the right-wing regime of President Juan Manuel Santos, earning the Colombian government’s praise and gratitude. The close on-going collaboration between a leftist President with a regime with a notorious history of human rights violations, torture and disappearance of political prisoners has led to widespread protests among civil liberty advocates, leftists and populists throughout Latin America and Europe, while pleasing the Euro-American imperial establishment.

On April 26, 2011, Venezuelan immigration officials, relying exclusively on information from the Colombian secret police (DAS), arrested a naturalized Swedish citizen and journalist (Joaquin Perez Becerra) of Colombian descent, who had just arrived in the country. Based on Colombian secret police allegations that the Swedish citizen was a ‘FARC leader’, Perez was extradited to Colombia within 48 hours. Despite the fact that it was in violation of international diplomatic protocols and the Venezuelan constitution, this action had the personal backing of President Chavez. A month later, the Venezuelan armed forces joined their Colombian counterparts and captured a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Guillermo Torres (with the nom de Guerra Julian Conrado) who is awaiting extradition to Colombia in a Venezuelan prison without access to an attorney. On March 17, Venezuelan Military Intelligence (DIM) detained two alleged guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN), Carlos Tirado and Carlos Perez, and turned them over to the Colombian secret police.

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Amid bloody repression, Zelayas returns to Honduras

May 28th, 2011

By Rady Ananda

Since Obama's first coup on June 28, 2009, when Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped and flown to a U.S. military base in Palmerola before being spirited out of the country in his pajamas, Honduras has endured lethal repression under the US-installed dictator, Porfirio Lobo. But today, May 28, 2011, Zelaya returned.

(Image: Porfirio Lobo and Manuel Zelaya shake hands on May 23, 2011)

On May 23rd, Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela president Hugo Chavez brokered a deal that allowed Zelaya to return so that Honduras will be readmitted to the Organisation of American States, thus gaining access to international "aid" funds.

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