The legacy of Hugo Chavez
March 10, 2023

The legacy of Hugo Chavez

by Renwick Rose

Thousands of Venezuelans on Sunday, March 5 engaged in activities to mark the 10th anniversary of their revered leader Hugo Chavez, the man who is attributed with changing his country for the better inspiring what is called “The Bolivarian Revolution” in honour of the great Latin American liberator, Simon Bolivar.

Chavez died on March 5, 2013 after a battle with cancer but he has left a legacy which has inspired and touched the lives of not only millions of Venezuelans but tens of thousands of poor people in the English-speaking Caribbean. In memory of this and the continuing selfless support of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, led by President Nicolas Maduro, the Prime Ministers of St Vincent and the Grenadines, comrade Ralph Gonsalves and Dominica, honourable Roosevelt Skerritt, were among Latin American leaders to participate in the activities to remember Chavez.

Chavez first came to international prominence when he led a failed army revolt in 1992 against the President Carlos Andres Perez, under whose leadership, Venezuela had continued to be subservient to US interests especially in regard to the rape of its vast oil wealth. Following his release from prison in 1994 he formed a political movement and contested and won the 1998 elections. This marked the beginning of the revolutionary transformation of his country, the successful campaigns against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and other social ills which continues to this day. An important part of this transformation has been the fight against the scourge of racism and social stigmas which for centuries had resulted in discrimination against black and indigenous people.

In spite of the hostility of the USA and cruel sanctions including theft of Venezuelan state resources, the Bolivarian Revolution has persevered and prospered. Chavez had promised to end poverty, hunger, illiteracy and homelessness, among other objectives of the Bolivarian Revolution. Today the reports from international agencies speak for themselves, the poverty rate having been lowered from over 22 per cent in 2002 to single figures today, in spite of the unjust sanctions; the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has recognized Venezuela for more than halving poverty while illiteracy has been wiped out and impressive educational programmes today have resulted in Venezuela being ranked 2nd in Latin America and fifth in the world in access to university education. Housing, culture and sports are among other impressive areas of progress inspired by Chavez’ Bolivarian Revolution.

That the leaders of SVG and Dominica were present at the Chavez memorial activities is not strange for both countries are among Caribbean countries which have benefited tremendously. In the case of SVG, thousands will testify to Venezuela’s role in funding the VISION NOW programme which enabled so many of our people with eye problems to receive treatment in Cuba. There is also the invaluable assistance in making the Argyle International Airport possible and the ongoing assistance in many fields, including agriculture.

Yes, there is much to honour Hugo Chavez for and to thank the Bolivarian Revolution and the people of Venezuela.