Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Chavez

Truths on the Bolivarian Revolution

SALIM LAMRANI published on March 9, 2013

President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013 of cancer at age 58, marked forever the history of Venezuela and Latin America.

1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy.

Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.

2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.

3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela’s electoral system was “the best in the world.”

4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.

5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.

6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.

7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.

8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.

9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela. (Cuba physicians trained ans practiced by the thousands)

10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.

11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011.

12. The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.

13. Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.

14. Thanks to Operation Miracle, launched in 2004, 1.5 million Venezuelans who were victims of cataracts or other eye diseases, regained their sight.

15. From 1999 to 2011, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 16.6% in 1999 to 7% in 2011.

16. In the rankings of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), Venezuela jumped from 83 in 2000 (0.656) at position 73 in 2011 (0.735), and entered into the category Nations with ‘High HDI’.

17. The GINI coefficient, which allows calculation of inequality in a country, fell from 0.46 in 1999 to 0.39 in 2011.

18. According to the UNDP, Venezuela holds the lowest recorded Gini coefficient in Latin America, that is, Venezuela is the country in the region with the least inequality.

19. Child malnutrition was reduced by 40% since 1999.

20. In 1999, 82% of the population had access to safe drinking water. Now it is 95%.

21. Under President Chavez social expenditures increased by 60.6%.

22. Before 1999, only 387,000 elderly people received a pension. Now the figure is 2.1 million.

23. Since 1999, 700,000 homes have been built in Venezuela.

24. Since 1999, the government provided / returned more than one million hectares of land to Aboriginal people.

25. Land reform enabled tens of thousands of farmers to own their land. In total, Venezuela distributed more than 3 million hectares.

26. In 1999, Venezuela was producing 51% of food consumed. In 2012, production was 71%, while food consumption increased by 81% since 1999. I

f consumption of 2012 was similar to that of 1999, Venezuela produced 140% of the food it consumed.

27. Since 1999, the average calories consumed by Venezuelans increased by 50% thanks to the Food Mission that created a chain of 22,000 food stores (MERCAL, Houses Food, Red PDVAL), where products are subsidized up to 30%. Meat consumption increased by 75% since 1999.

28. Five million children now receive free meals through the School Feeding Programme. The figure was 250,000 in 1999.

29. The malnutrition rate fell from 21% in 1998 to less than 3% in 2012.

30. According to the FAO, Venezuela is the most advanced country in Latin America and the Caribbean in the eradication of hunger.

31. The nationalization of the oil company PDVSA in 2003 allowed Venezuela to regain its energy sovereignty.

32. The nationalization of the electrical and telecommunications sectors (CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas) allowed the end of private monopolies and guaranteed universal access to these services.

33. Since 1999, more than 50,000 cooperatives have been created in all sectors of the economy.

34. The unemployment rate fell from 15.2% in 1998 to 6.4% in 2012, with the creation of more than 4 million jobs.

35. The minimum wage increased from 100 bolivars/month ($ 16) in 1998 to 2047.52 bolivars ($ 330) in 2012, ie an increase of over 2,000%. This is the highest minimum wage in Latin America.

36. In 1999, 65% of the workforce earned the minimum wage. In 2012 only 21.1% of workers have only this level of pay.

37. Adults at a certain age who have never worked still get an income equivalent to 60% of the minimum wage.

38. Women without income and disabled people receive a pension equivalent to 80% of the minimum wage.

39. Working hours were reduced to 6 hours a day and 36 hours per week, without loss of pay.

40. Public debt fell from 45% of GDP in 1998 to 20% in 2011. Venezuela withdrew from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, after early repayment of all its debts.

41. In 2012, the growth rate was 5.5% in Venezuela, one of the highest in the world.

42. GDP per capita rose from $ 4,100 in 1999 to $ 10,810 in 2011.

43. According to the annual World Happiness 2012, Venezuela is the second happiest country in Latin America, behind Costa Rica, and the nineteenth worldwide, ahead of Germany and Spain.

44. Venezuela offers more direct support to the American continent than the United States. In 2007, Chávez spent more than 8,800 million dollars in grants, loans and energy aid as against 3,000 million from the Bush administration.

45. For the first time in its history, Venezuela has its own satellites (Bolivar and Miranda) and is now sovereign in the field of space technology. The entire country has internet and telecommunications coverage.

46. The creation of Petrocaribe in 2005 allows 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, or 90 million people, secure energy supply, by oil subsidies of between 40% to 60%.

47. Venezuela also provides assistance to disadvantaged communities in the United States by providing fuel at subsidized rates.

48. The creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004 between Cuba and Venezuela laid the foundations of an inclusive alliance based on cooperation and reciprocity.

It now comprises 8 member countries which places the human being in the center of the social project, with the aim of combating poverty and social exclusion.

49. Hugo Chavez was at the heart of the creation in 2011 of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which brings together for the first time the 33 nations of the region, emancipated from the tutelage of the United States and Canada.

50. Hugo Chavez played a key role in the peace process in Colombia. According to President Juan Manuel Santos, “if we go into a solid peace project, with clear and concrete progress, progress achieved ever before with the FARC, is also due to the dedication and commitment of Chavez and the government of Venezuela.”

Translation by Tim Anderson

Note: Chavez managed these feats thanks to the high price of oil in that period. With low oil prices and heavy trade restrictions from the US, Venezuela is experiencing harsh times.

Source: Opera Mundia

Creative Commons license icon

Venezuelan Protests: Is the US backing right wing groups again?

In Venezuela, at least six people have died in recent days during a series of anti-government protests. The latest casualty was a local beauty queen who died of a gunshot wound.

The protests come less than a year after the death of Hugo Chávez and present the biggest challenge to Venezuela’s new president Nicolás Maduro.

Earlier this week, right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo López turned himself in to the National Guard after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest last week, accusing him of inciting deadly clashes.

Amy Goodman & Juan González published in Democracy Now this Feb. 20, 2014

Venezuelan Protests: Another Attempt by U.S.-Backed Right-Wing Groups to Oust Elected Government?

On Monday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of 3 U.S. consular officials while claiming the United States has sided with the opposition.

Our guest, George Ciccariello-Maher, looks at the recent history of the U.S. role in Venezuela opposing both the Chávez and Maduro governments. He is author of “We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution” and teaches political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Venezuela, where at least six people have died in recent days during a series of anti-government protests. On Wednesday, a local beauty queen died of a gunshot wound.

The protests come less than a year after the death of Hugo Chávez and present the biggest challenge to Venezuela’s new president, Nicolás Maduro. Earlier this week, right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo López turned himself in to the National Guard after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of inciting deadly clashes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, to find out more, we go to Philadelphia to speak with George Ciccariello-Maher, author of We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution. He teaches political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, previously taught at the Venezuelan School of Planning in Caracas.

What is happening in Venezuela today?

GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER: Well, there’s a great deal happening, and I think you’ve got your finger on the fact that this is a crucial test for the Maduro government.

And I think it’s our obligation to put it in its broad historical context to understand who’s acting.

And I think there’s a tendency—there’s an unfortunate tendency, if you follow Twitter or if you’re on the Internet, that, you know, in this sort of post-Occupy moment and in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, every time we see—every time we see protesters in the streets, we start retweeting it, and we start to sort of, you know, feel sympathetic, without necessarily knowing what the back story is.

And I think we’re obligated to do that here. And once we look into this back story, what we see is yet another attempt in a long string of attempts of the Venezuelan opposition to oust a democratically elected government, this time taking advantage of student mobilizations against—you know, ostensibly against insecurity and against economic difficulties to do that.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, George Ciccariello, who is Leopoldo López? The Washington Postdescribes him as a 42-year-old, Harvard-educated, left-leaning moderate. What do you know about his history?

GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER: Left-leaning moderate would be quite a stretch. Leopoldo López represents the far right of the Venezuelan political spectrum. In terms of his personal and political history, here’s someone who was educated in the United States from prep school through graduate school at the Harvard Kennedy School.

He’s descended from the first president of Venezuela, purportedly even from Simón Bolívar. In other words, he’s a representative of this traditional political class that was displaced when the Bolivarian revolution came to power.

SHOW FULL TRANSCRIPT ›

Nuanced Feminist Discussion in Venezuela?

If you’re paying attention to international news, you may have noticed that there’s something happening in Venezuela.

And depending on what news sources you’re reading, you might be hearing extremely different things. What you’ll have trouble hearing, though, is a nuanced perspective that doesn’t either dismiss or glorify my homeland’s socialist government.

So I guess I’m gonna try to write it.

VERÓNICA BAYETTI FLORES published this Feb. 20, 2014

Toward a nuanced, feminist discussion on Venezuela

To be honest, I’m quite hesitant to talk Venezuelan politics publicly.

I’ve found people’s reactions to be extremely polarized, and the subject matter too deeply personal for me to easily brush off. But the last week has been so brutal, and the coverage so extremely lacking, that it feels imperative to put fear aside and share the little piece I have to contribute.

I’m particularly interested in leftist movements’ ability to hold leftist governments accountable when their actions are oppressive, in our ability to have a nuanced conversation about the ways the folks we prop up as heroes fail us.

And I’m interested in talking about how, even in the face of complete failure on major issues of gender equity and justice, leftist projects can remain darlings in the eyes of our social movements.

Venezuelan woman holding flag in front of riot police

Photo credit: Washington Post

Last week, Venezuelans have come out to protest en masse in cities across the country.

Depending on where you’re getting your information, people are protesting because:

1.  they’re wealthy brats who are mad that they’re no longer able to get the official exchange rate for their foreign vacations, or

2. they’re protesting an extremely unstable economy, a lack of basic goods like staple foods and toilet paper, and endemic violence.

The truth is, well, both. The fact is, wealthier Venezuelans are mad.

Over the last 15 years, since the election of Hugo Chavez, wealth has undergone a massive redistribution – no question a positive thing in an extremely uneven and disparate economic landscape – and the Venezuelan rich have been pretty upset about it.

The wealthy kinda liked all their money. During this time, there is absolutely no question that the material conditions of poor Venezuelans improved vastly.

These progresses, along with the charisma, guts, and equal parts biting and hilarious political commentary of the late Hugo Chavez have made Venezuela’s leftist project – now led by Chavez’s far less charismatic successor, Nicolás Maduro – the darling of leftist movements worldwide.

This has also made Venezuela a major target of unwarranted and undemocratic political intervention by the United States, part of a long history of political intervention in South American left governments.

But at this point, it’s not just wealthy Venezuelans who are upset with the government.

The fact is, this socialism, maybe more like state capitalism, hasn’t been all rainbows and glitter.

The economy is devastated, and 2013 ended with an official inflation rate of 58%, and Venezuelans are turning increasingly to the black market with at rates at least 5 or six times that. Think about that for a second. What folks were getting paid in January of last year?

Now it’s worth 60%-300% less. If they happened to have managed to save any money, well, that was a bad move, as it’s worth a whole lot less now.

This is a national phenomenon, affecting everyone, and actually affecting mostly poor folks – a lot of wealthier folks with jobs at multinational corporations have managed to start getting paid in dollars, so it’s a sweet deal for them.

This reality is also part of the context of the protests.

Feminist projects have enjoyed mixed success in Venezuela.

While there certainly have been some very important gains, this government has left Venezuelan feminists with a lot to be desired.

Despite the fact that, much like everywhere else, a lack of access to safe and legal options for terminating a pregnancy affects primarily low-income women, abortion remains illegal.

Throughout the last 15 years there has been no major effort to legalize this very common medical procedure, and in fact it has hardly ever been mentioned. I’ve spent a good amount of time with the transcripts of every single Aló Presidente, scouring them for mentions of abortion and coming up short.

Nor has there been any mention, much less action, on the terrifyingly high rates of murders of trans women.

Protections for queer folks are nearly nonexistent, and let’s not forget that in the midst of his presidential campaign, Nicolás Maduro called his political opponent Henrique Capriles a fag, calling into question his ability to lead for his lack of a wife.

And during last week’s protests, Nicolás Maduro’s government has been extremely oppressive. Venezuela’s government-controlled media has been curiously silent about the protests, which are happening nationwide and are turning out thousands of Venezuelans.

The only channel that was covering the marches was pulled off the air. Twitter confirmed that Venezuelan users’ images were being blocked, and there are reports of tactical internet shutdowns and slowdowns by the state telecommunications company, creating virtual blackouts.

The police and national guard have been reacting violently, and at least four people have died. And the leader and instigator of the protests, Leopoldo Lopez, has been arrested and charged with terrorism.

Now, I share very few politics with Leopoldo Lopez, as well as a good number of the protesters. But I will never defend state violence, censorship, and political repression, and I am frankly shocked at how ready some of the folks in my radical community are to dilute their politics when it is in service of a leftist government.

I wish I could express similar shock at the left’s ability to defend a government for whom feminism is not even a remote priority; I’ve long abandoned that fantasy.

What the media doesn’t understand about Venezuela is that it isn’t black and white.

Yes, the right – who just cannot deal with the fact that this government has been democratically elected over and over – organized these protests, and yes they want Nicolás Maduro out by any means necessary.

Yes, the cops are being oppressive and violent, the state censoring crucial information. Yes, the economy is devastated, and everyone’s mad – let’s not forget that the last election was won very narrowly, so about half of the country is pretty sick of the direction of the current government.

And that’s not counting the folks who are sick of the current government but voted for it anyway, seeing as they’ve been the only government in recent memory to even remotely care about Venezuela’s poor.

The people of Venezuela are upset for many reasons, and they are marching together, but with very different politics. People everywhere have very complex relationships to politics, their leadership, their countries, and yet this is something the media routinely denies Venezuelans.

While the right wing spews claims of dictatorship and Maduro is busy screaming about the upcoming U.S.-backed coup – which, to be very fair, almost certainly happened in 2002, and it is entirely possible that the U.S. remains invested in the country’s destabilization – the people are marching for access to food, for some sense of economic stability.

People are marching for their survival. Lots of them are angry bourgeois; a lot of them also are folks who can’t afford to send maids to stand in line for four hours to get basic staples on their table, folks who have spotty access to electricity and water.

Don’t ever get it twisted: the economic instability and violence that Venezuela has been riddled with most distinctly affect Venezuela’s poor.

And there are still A LOT of Venezuelans who remain poor, even after improved conditions, even after a new bureaucratic elite has risen.

Poor folks who are, despite much lip service from the government about the contributions of indigenous folks and Afro-Venezuelans, disproportionately darker-skinned, indigenous, and Afro-descended. These ills affect Venezuelans in ways that are distinctly gendered.

And the hesitancy of the American left to deal with these abuses, with the mixed legacy of Venezuela’s socialism, is stunning. While I understand the impulse to defend a project which the U.S.’s imperialist and anti-socialist agenda has routinely undermined, we’ve got to do better than this.

I’ve seen much of this with my own eyes and through the eyes of my family. I’ve seen the massive housing developments for the previously precariously-housed. I’ve seen my family politically divided – initially very much along predictable class lines, though increasingly most abandoning their hope for this government.

I’ve seen them access free health care, and I’ve seen what it has meant for them to live in a system where their pay shrinks every day while costs go up. I’ve heard friends and family tell me about the time(s) they’ve had a gun to their head, and I’ve been caught in the middle of a robbery involving snipers.

My cousin was shot at a couple weeks ago. It’s a very distinct kind of pain to see your country crumble from afar, to watch your political dreams slowly degraded and corrupted. And it is a very distinct kind of pain to not be able to access information that reflects the nuanced realities of how it is happening.

So, fears about manarchist backlash aside – you have no idea how white men love to explain me about my country! – I put out my thoughts in the hopes that folks searching for something like this will have something to find.

(How nuanced is feminism in this picture? Taken in Tunisia (North Africa), a State in the “Arab World” where women have the most of genders equal rights?)

لو كان الله يريد النساء بذلك الشكل لما خلق لها وجها و ذراعين. إنّه مرض و خلل في التفكير و الشعور. كم كرهت تلك المناظر! لماذا لا يدفنوا أنفسهم في كهوف مظلمة و يريحونا من جهلهم؟؟؟<br /><br />
AMAL
Kind if God wanted to create women this way, why would he adds faces and arms to the female genders?
Note 2:

1bfea3e7449eff65a94e2e55a8b7acda-bpfull

Verónica is a leftist who would appreciate a little less glorifying and a little more critical thought.

Many still hate former Margaret Thatcher PM, even after her death, many are still angry 

Ken Loach wrote:
Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive and destructive Prime Minister of modern times.
Mass Unemployment, factory closures, communities destroyed – this is her legacy.
She was a fighter and her enemy was the British working class. Her victories were aided by the politically corrupt leaders of the Labour Party and of many Trades Unions.
It is because of policies begun by her that we are in this mess today. Other prime ministers have followed her path, notably Tony Blair. She was the organ grinder, he was the monkey…
Remember she called Mandela a terrorist and took tea with the torturer and murderer Pinochet.
How should we honour her? Let’s privatize her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It’s what she would have wanted.”
Call Me Cynical posted:

In one of my earliest childhood memories, my father is perched on the toilet reading the newspaper, while i am taking a bath. As I’m playing with my secondhand barbies, dunking their heads underwater in the hope that they’d turn green (a myth, it turns out, propagated by girls in my kindergarden), he suddenly flies into a rage. I remember nagging him to explain. Right around that time, I had started to join him in front of the TV for the 8’ o clock evening news bulletin, which included recaps of that day’s parliamentary debates. I would ask, “Is he good? Is he bad? Is he good? Is he bad?” as various politicians filed across the screen. My dad would, at first, play along and yell “Good! Bad! Bad! Bad! Good!” until he quickly tired of the game and ordered me to be quiet so he could follow the debates. That afternoon in the bathroom, he explained to me that he was furious at Thatcher, a VERY bad politician who had once abolished free milk programs in school. This was pretty advanced policy for me and a decisive step up from our TV game. I didn’t understand if it meant the kids all went hungry or not. But I was a little bit proud that he’d bothered to explain it to me in the first place. So Thatcher was a big deal to me then. And now she’s dead and I am thoroughly enjoying the unadulterated scorn being heaped on her. I detest the hagiographic rituals common in the US when villainous figures pass away. The sanitized coverage of Reagan’s legacy upon his death was as traumatic as Bush’s re-election later that same year.Fuck Thatcher in life and in death. My only regret is not to be watching it all on TV with my dad in Berlin. Bad Thatcher. Bad.

In one of my earliest childhood memories, my father is perched on the toilet reading the newspaper, while I am taking a bath.

As I’m playing with my secondhand barbies, dunking their heads underwater in the hope that they’d turn green (a myth, it turns out, propagated by girls in my kindergarten), he suddenly flies into a rage.

I remember nagging him to explain. Right around that time, I had started to join him in front of the TV for the 8’ o clock evening news bulletin, which included recaps of that day’s parliamentary debates.

I would ask, “Is he good? Is he bad? Is he good? Is he bad?” as various politicians filed across the screen. My dad would, at first, play along and yell “Good! Bad! Bad! Bad! Good!” until he quickly tired of the game and ordered me to be quiet so he could follow the debates.

That afternoon in the bathroom, he explained to me that he was furious at Thatcher, a VERY bad politician who had once abolished free milk programs in school. This was pretty advanced policy for me and a decisive step up from our TV game.

I didn’t understand if it meant the kids all went hungry or not. But I was a little bit proud that he’d bothered to explain it to me in the first place. So Thatcher was a big deal to me then.

And now she’s dead and I am thoroughly enjoying the unadulterated scorn being heaped on her.

I detest the hagiographic rituals common in the US when villainous figures pass away. The sanitized coverage of Reagan’s legacy upon his death was as traumatic as Bush’s re-election later that same year. Fuck Thatcher in life and in death.

My only regret is not to be watching it all on TV with my dad in Berlin. Bad Thatcher. Bad.

Glenn Greenwald published in the Guardian on April 8, 2013 under: “Margaret Thatcher and misapplied death etiquette”

News of Margaret Thatcher‘s death this morning instantly and predictably gave rise to righteous sermons on the evils of speaking ill of her. British Labour MP Tom Watson decreed: “I hope that people on the left of politics respect a family in grief today.”

Following in the footsteps of Santa Claus, Steve Hynd quickly compiled a list of all the naughty boys and girls “on the left” who dared to express criticisms of the dearly departed Prime Minister, warning that he “will continue to add to this list throughout the day”.

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch, with no apparent sense of irony, invoked precepts of propriety to announce: “Pygmies of the left so predictably embarrassing yourselves, know this: not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her.”

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher Photograph: Don Mcphee

This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power.

“Respecting the grief” of Thatcher’s family members is appropriate if one is friends with them or attends a wake they organize, but the protocols are fundamentally different when it comes to public discourse about the person’s life and political acts.

I made this argument at length last year when Christopher Hitchens died and a speak-no-ill rule about him was instantly imposed (a rule he, more than anyone, viciously violated), and I won’t repeat that argument today; those interested can read my reasoning here.

But the key point is this: those who admire the deceased public figure (and their politics) aren’t silent at all. They are aggressively exploiting the emotions generated by the person’s death to create hagiography.

Typifying these highly dubious claims about Thatcher was this (appropriately diplomatic) statement from President Obama: “The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.” Those gushing depictions can be quite consequential, as it was for the week-long tidal wave of unbroken reverence that was heaped on Ronald Reagan upon his death, an episode that to this day shapes how Americans view him and the political ideas he symbolized.

Demanding that no criticisms be voiced to counter that hagiography is to enable false history and a propagandistic whitewashing of bad acts, distortions that become quickly ossified and then endure by virtue of no opposition and the powerful emotions created by death. When a political leader dies, it is irresponsible in the extreme to demand that only praise be permitted but not criticisms.

Whatever else may be true of her, Thatcher engaged in incredibly consequential acts that affected millions of people around the world. She played a key role not only in bringing about the first Gulf War but also using her influence to publicly advocate for the 2003 attack on Iraq.

She denounced Nelson Mandela and his ANC as “terrorists”, something even David Cameron ultimately admitted was wrong. She was a steadfast friend to brutal tyrants such as Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein and Indonesian dictator General Suharto (“One of our very best and most valuable friends”).

And as my Guardian colleague Seumas Milne detailed last year, “across Britain Thatcher is still hated for the damage she inflicted – and for her political legacy of rampant inequality and greed, privatization and social breakdown.”

To demand that all of that be ignored in the face of one-sided requiems to her nobility and greatness is a bit bullying and tyrannical, not to mention warped. As David Wearing put it this morning in satirizing these speak-no-ill-of-the-deceased moralists: “People praising Thatcher’s legacy should show some respect for her victims. Tasteless.”

Tellingly, few people have trouble understanding the need for balanced commentary when the political leaders disliked by the west pass away. Here, for instance, was what the Guardian reported upon the death last month of Hugo Chavez:

To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be occasion to bid, vocally or discreetly, good riddance.”

Nobody, at least that I know of, objected to that observation on the ground that it was disrespectful to the ability of the Chavez family to mourn in peace. Any such objections would have been invalid. It was perfectly justified to note that, particularly as the Guardian also explained that “to the millions who revered him – a third of the country, according to some polls – a messiah has fallen, and their grief will be visceral.

Chavez was indeed a divisive and controversial figure, and it would have been reckless to conceal that fact out of some misplaced deference to the grief of his family and supporters. He was a political and historical figure and the need to accurately portray his legacy and prevent misleading hagiography easily outweighed precepts of death etiquette that prevail when a private person dies.

Exactly the same is true of Thatcher.

There’s something distinctively creepy – in a Roman sort of way – about this mandated ritual that our political leaders must be heralded and consecrated as saints upon death. This is accomplished by this baseless moral precept that it is gauche or worse to balance the gushing praise for them upon death with valid criticisms.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with loathing Margaret Thatcher or any other person with political influence and power based upon perceived bad acts, and that doesn’t change simply because they die.

If anything, it becomes more compelling to commemorate those bad acts upon death as the only antidote against a society erecting a false and jingoistic  self-serving history

Note 1:  Pierre Madani commented: “It seems that only “Enemies of the West” can be bashed in newspapers post-mortem; take Hugo Chavez as a recent example… balanced criticism for a deceased public figure seems inappropriate among the society she helped tear apart…. Chutzpah

Note 2: The Irish are jubilant: dozen of Irish prisoners died, and one was let to die during his hunger strike. The Scots also are jubilant…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

April 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Blog Stats

  • 1,376,372 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 719 other followers

%d bloggers like this: