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

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After Chávez

Why has the Bolivarian spirit in Venezuela not endured after Chávez?

We are far away from Latin America (LA), and yet the region and its people are not lost in our thoughts and feelings. 1 April marked the 50th anniversary of the military coup in LA’s largest country, Brazil, a seizure of power that subjected the people over there to 21 years of the “outsized reality” of brutal dictatorship backed by Washington. And yet not a single official of that savage period has been held accountable for the crimes committed. Towards the end of that cruel chapter, with Ronald Reagan in the White House, the US Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), funded by the US government, with a board of directors that included Henry Kissinger, to promote “democracy” around the world.

The “right” local elites are now funded to attain positions of authority in “civil society”; certain politicians are supported to channel popular mobilisation and mass movements in a direction that Washington would approve of. Indeed, as one official of the NED once put it, a lot of what the NED now does was done covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency in the past. So NED became the new tool of Empire. Wonder how Gabriel García Márquez, “Gabo” as he was affectionately called, who passed away on 17 April, would have brought this development into his literature in the genre of “magical realism”. After all, were not the reality and the magical elements of his magical realism created in the setting of US imperialism and all that went with it? As much as Hugo Chávez wished and worked for LA to leave behind its hundred years of solitude, that is still a long way off. Márquez always hailed the Cuban revolution, and so did Chávez, for they knew that that act cemented LA’s political sovereignty and gave its literature a distinct identity. But the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela under the presidency of Nicolás Maduro has been under siege since mid-February from forces of the right-wing, backed by NED.

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