Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Time for a re-think on Chavez?

Aled Fisher writes.

I think it's time Green Left had a bit of a rethink of its position on Hugo Chavez. It's sad because, like many of you and others on the Left, Chavez was, at one point, a beacon of hope in Latin America - and it would still be wrong to criticise many aspects of his impressive social programme in education and health, and further improvements in local democracy and agriculture. Indeed, some of his foreign policy choices have been excellent, like supplying cheap oil to impoverished communities in the US and London.

However, I think we need to make our support a lot more critical, and in fact ruthlessly criticise some of his recent outbursts and strange announcements. For example, today he claimed that the US was behind the protests in Tibet, trying to disrupt the Olympics and the rise of China - see http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/03/25/sports/LA-SPT-OLY-Beijing-Tibet-Chavez.php for more.

The Green Party and Green Left rightly support the right to self-determination and resistance of the Tibetan people after years of occupation. Furthermore, I think we need to be as outspoken on the crimes of China as we correctly are on Israel, Sudan, Burma and other serious human rights abusers. However, here Chavez is acting like an apologist for a Stalinist regime that is one of the world's worst ecological and social abusers.I increasingly think that Chavez's revolution is going down the wrong path and is out of line with eco-socialism or Green socialism. As our founding statement makes clear, we oppose Stalinism and undemocratic, centralist socialism - but I'm worried that Chavez is now, more than ever, an authoritarian ruler cut in the Stalinist mode. A 'revolution' cannot be so dependent on one man without these kind of problems arising. I think we need to support more independence for trade unions, social movements, student groups and others in Venezuela so that they can be a check against his power and retain control over their own resources and the decisions that affect them. We certainly need to discuss how we want to term our position on Venezuela (as well as Cuba).

Cheers, Aled :)

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