ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Viva Chávez!

Hugo Chavez came a long way from being a military offi cer attempting a coup to overthrow Venezuela's corrupted politicoeconomic system to leading the "Bolivarian movement" which resulted in massive transformations and support from the Venezuelan people. His death means that his successor has huge shoes to fi ll, but all indications show that the political space is now prepared to continue Chavismo without Chávez.

Vijay Prashad’s ( latest book, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso and LeftWord, 2013), assesses the Bolivarian dynamic in its fi nal chapter.

On 27 February 1989, the people who lived in the slums around Caracas, Venezuela took to the streets against the arbitrary rise in petrol prices. The city was lost to the government, as ordinary people inflicted their anger on a government that seemed to have its finance minister on a permanent hotline to the International Monetary Fund headquarters. The elimination of petrol subsidies for a country that has one of the largest deposits of petroleum seemed beyond reason to people whose budgets had been corralled to the task of national debt-servicing rather than their own humanity. The government of Carlos Andrés Pérez responded with characteristic brutality: over three thousand people are estimated to have been killed in the melee that followed his suspension of crucial constitutional protections to the people and the military response. Soldiers from the same rural and slum backgrounds as the protestors were forced to fire to kill.

The man in charge of the presidential guard at the presidential Miraflores Palace, Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) was in hospital during what came to be called El Caracazo (also Sacudón, the day that shook the country). He returned after the cordite had cleared. His troops told him that they were sickened by the orders to shoot at their own people. Never again, they said to Chávez.

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