“Hugo Chavez, these are my 10 reasons why I will not miss you.”

Via Waylon Lewis
on Mar 5, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

A sentiment we all can agree upon:

“Best of luck to Venezuela. I hope the future is bright for them.”

Some positive.

Some critical but fair.

“This comment on CNN is well put. Kudos to the writer. For the too lazy to go over to CNN, here it is.” ~ A Redditor

“Rest in peace, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías. As a Venezuelan, I didn’t agree with most of your policies and politics, but I do not rejoice in your death and I do respect the pain of your family and supporters.

In 1998, when you campaigned for the presidency -and promised to end corruption- despite my disappointment with the traditional parties, I did not support you because you had led a coup against president Carlos Andres Pérez. I didn’t like Pérez, but he was elected by our people and attempting to overthrow him was proof that you did not respect the will of Venezuelans.

I didn’t oppose 100% of what you did. I was grateful, for example, that you placed the issue of poverty on the table and you put the spotlight on millions of Venezuelans that until then had been excluded. I knew that the Cuban doctors in the slums were unprepared and unequipped, but I understood that they meant the world to the mother that knocks on their door at 3am. I was also happy of the way most Venezuelans started to care about politics again (some because they supported you; others because they opposed you). The anti-politic feeling we saw in the 90’s was precisely what got you elected. And I also kept in mind that a majority of Venezuelans did support you, so you certainly had a right to be in office.

These are my 10 reasons why I will not miss you:

  1. Your authoritarian manner (which reflected a flaw probably most Venezuelans have), and your inability to engage in an honest dialogue with anyone that opposed you. Even from your death bed, you had a Supreme Court justice fired because she didn’t agree with your politics.
  2. Your disrespect for the rule of law and your contribution to a climate of impunity in Venezuela. In 1999, you re-wrote the Constitution to fit your needs, and yet you violated it almost on a daily basis. With this example, it is no surprise that crime exploded in Venezuela. In 14 years, our homicide rate more than tripled from 22/100K to 74/100K. While judges were busy trying to prove their political allegiance to you, only 11% of homicides led to a conviction.
  3. Your empty promises and the way you manipulated many Venezuelans to think you were really working for them. In 14 years you built less public housing than any president before you did in their 5 year periods. Hospitals today have no resources, and if you go there in emergency you must everything from medicines to surgical gloves and masks. The truth is that you were better at blowing your own trumpet than at getting things done.
  4. The astounding level of corruption of your government. There was corruption before you got elected, but normally a government’s scandals weren’t made public until they handed power to the opposing party. Now we’ve heard about millions and millions of dollars vanishing in front of everybody’s eyes, and your only reaction was to attack the media that revealed the corruption. The only politicians accused of corruption have been from parties that oppose you, and mostly on trumped up charges. For example, Leopoldo Lopez was never condemned by the courts but you still prevented him for running for office. His crime? Using money from the wrong budget allocation to pay for the salaries of teachers and firemen -because your government withheld the appropriate funds.
  5. The opportunities you missed. When you took office, the price of oil was $9.30, and in 2008 it reached $126.33. There was so much good you could have done with that money! And yet you decided to throw it away on corruption and buying elections and weapons. If you had used these resources well, 10.7% of Venezuelans would not be in extreme poverty.
  6. Your attacks on private property and entrepreneurship. You nationalized hundreds of private companies, and pushed hundreds more towards bankruptcy. Not because you were a communist or a socialist, but simply because you wanted no one left with any power to oppose you. If everyone was a public employee, you could force them to attend your political rallies, and the opposition would not get any funding.
  7. Your hypocrisy on freedom and human rights. You shut down more than 30 radio and television stations for being critical of your government, you denied access to foreign currency for newspapers to buy printing paper (regular citizens can’t access foreign currency unless you authorize it), you imprisoned people without trial for years, you imprisoned people for crimes of opinion, you fired tens of thousands of public employees for signing a petition for a recall referendum and you denied them access to public services and even ID cards and passports.
  8. Your hypocrisy on the issue of Venezuela’s sovereignty. You kicked out the Americans but then you pulled down your pants for the Cubans, Russians, Chinese and Iranians. We have Cuban officers giving orders in the Venezuelan army. Chinese oil companies work with a higher margin of profit than any Western companies did. And you made it clear that your alliances would be with governments that massacre their own people.
  9. Your hypocrisy on the issue of violence. You said this was a peaceful revolution but you allowed illegal armed groups like Tupamaros, La Piedrita and FBLN to operate. You gave them weapons. You had the Russians set up a Kalashnikov plant in Venezuela. You were critical of American wars but yet you gave weapons to the Colombian guerrilla, whose only agenda is murder and drug-dealing.
  10. Your hypocrisy on democracy. Your favorite insult for the opposition parties in Venezuela was “coupists”, but you forgot you organized a coup in 1992, and the military that was loyal to you suggested they would support a coup in your favor if the opposition ever won the presidential elections. There was no democracy in your political party: you chose each of the candidates for the National Assembly and for city and state governments. When the opposition won the referendum that would have allowed you to change the Constitution in 2007, you disavowed the results and you figured out a way to change the articles and allow yourself to be reelected as many times as you wanted. You manipulated the elections in 2010 to make sure the opposition didn’t get more than a third of seats in Parliament even though they got 51% of the popular vote. Your democracy was made of paper, you made sure there were no meaningful checks and balances and all institutions were your puppets.

So no, Hugo I will not miss you. Rest in peace now, while we try to rebuild the mess of a country that you left us.”


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


7 Responses to ““Hugo Chavez, these are my 10 reasons why I will not miss you.””

  1. Ruth Fowler says:

    Well, what a Capitalist load of nonsense. I'm shocked an apparently yogic journal has become instead a cipher for such narrow-minded views. Chavez was an authoritarian Socialist, but he needed to be to face the nefarious West and in particular America, who no doubt will be plotting ways to get the CIA into Venezuela to fund an authoritarian leader of their choosing next – one who will be kinder to big business and ensure their power through the American-incited death squads we know so well from Chile, Argentina, El Salvador and others. But keep swallowing the 'acceptable' story and watching out for those rich people and America! They're really suffering!

  2. Bryan Rhodes says:

    Seems reasonably fair article to me. Chavez had the opportunity to do quite a bit that he wasn’t able to get done. Nationalizing the oil industry and settling affairs with the World Bank put him in a position to make some strong progress. Sadly, the problem wasn’t the demonic West as much as it was inherent in the existing Venezuelan system that he failed to completely reform. The West didn’t need to do much at all. I think the article says it well – Hugo Chavez was an anti-hero with a mixed record of good and bad. Just like the rest of us.

  3. Elizabeth Escobedo says:

    I agree with Ruth. Historically, America has been been in agreement with many authoritarian oligarchical regimes across Latin America. As long as said regimes were compliant with American interests, they were readily labeled “democracies” and rewarded military support and funding to build death squads. Although it seems Mr. Chavez’s perceptions of democracy were a bit skewed, it seems hypocritical to point that out without first examining the notion of “democracy” our dear American government loves to export abroad. As we know the US currently supports a “democratic” apartheid known as the State of Israel. Mr. Chavez was by no means an ideal leader, but he was no less of a monster than other “respectable” politicians who preceded him. Perhaps it is time to make a list entitled “Why Latin America (along with other victims of US imperialism) do not miss Ronald Reagan”.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Please send in your perspective, we'll feature it! Would be our community's pleasure and honor. http://www.elephantjournal.com/submit

  5. elephantjournal says:

    This is a comment from CNN, as it says and is linked. There are three perspectives shared–good, critical but fair and something we all can agree on—sending our best wishes and love to Venezualans. If you'd like to offer your perspective, every single page of elephant has a "submit" button–contribute your views, or experience, we'll feature you asap. We're only as strong and wise as our community.

    If you read and love elephant generally, you'll know we're reader-created–we do not push a monolithic, single point of view. You can contribute! Our only mission or "point of view" is compassion. Please help us share a more enlightened perspective!

    The above article is not by us, but a comment in an article, and I offered two other points along with it.

    We are a community, not so much a business–so please be active, not passive. If you'd like to leave, of course, you're welcome to do so, but you will not be effecting change by doing so, but rather you could create peace and understanding by contributing. ~ Waylon Lewis

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Another comment: "Venezuelan here. It makes me very upset that some opposition people all of the sudden say they are not celebrating Chavez's death. I left my country three years ago because the of the insecurity, so did many other members of my family and now we are all scattered around the world. I am not embarrassed to say that it felt good to hear the news. That doesn't mean I don't respect his followers who are mourning, it means that I am relieved that a new chapter in our history will start, and that HE -the man that has made Venezuela a living hell for many people, both in the highest and lowest social classes- is not here any more to lead his despicable team. For those who are confused about who Chavez really was, I would say that everything you have heard probably has some degree of truth, and that you would need to hear a lot more in order to fully understand it (which I would love to explain, but would be too long for now). I don't think Chavez's death is our 'salvation' either, his party is way too strong and ours is incredibly weak, and they will keep on playing us and manipulating us at their convenience.. that fact is terrifying. (Yes, I think the opposition will lose the next elections). There is a long road ahead of us, today was just a very important step."

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Another comment.

    "What I hope for, as a Venezuelan who has lived here all her life, is that the constitution is upheld. That means that the current government, which should be headed by the president of the national assembly Diosdado Cabello, not VP Maduro, calls for elections within 30 days. I also hope they recognize the results of that election, whichever those may be. I sincerely fear they won't, but I hope they will.

    I also hope that the military will not take sides for the PSUV party. This I am more scared of considering they just spoke on national TV and used slogans that are of the party. The military are not here to serve a party but to serve a country, and that country includes the 45% of the population that didn't vote for Chavez in the last elections.

    Condolences to his family and hopefully the man can rest in peace now."