On this day, the world has lost one of the giant figures of our time. Hugo Chavez is a man who wasn't supposed to be in the position he was in. He wasn't supposed to become the president of Venezuela. He was an outsider. He didn't represent the political classes which have dominated politics on the behalf of the oligarchs, the big capitalists. He didn't view people as they did. He didn't ask to be entrusted with the presidency of his country so that he could continue down the path that too many have called "democracy". No, he represented something else, something empowering, something much closer to what people would understand to be true democracy.
For Hugo Chavez, empowering his countrymen, the masses of ignored people, the players in a game run by elites both Venezuelan and foreign, was the beginning of a revolution. A revolution which was fought in the political arena of the enemies' of true democracy. Although that arena and its rules were stacked in favor of the elites, it had a fatal flaw. That flaw was that the desires of the forgotten masses could not be contained forever and their awakening, the election of Chavez became a reality.
I remember watching the news the day of the coup against him. The news was upsetting. Flashes of historical leaders being forced from power against the will of the people came to mind and for a little while I thought that the "champions of democracy" had been successful once again at destroying it. But they weren't. The Venezuelan people were alert and came out in support of their president and against the corrupt plotters and within a short period of time their democracy was restored. The people had won again.
Pay attention to the people who so easily label Chavez a "dictator". Pay attention to who they are. Take note of the fact that their use of the word "dictator" is as slanderous as their use of the word "democracy". When these people who attempt to portray the way things are in a way that just doesn't match how they really are, they are either inventing a new language or just plain liars. Our societies are filled with people like this.
We must understand that these people cannot be trusted. Leaders of the most advanced nations are most often nothing more than hypocrites. They are more than willing to deal with real dictators and not only deal with them, but enable them, support them. The only requisite to be on the good side of the leaders and "champions of democracy" is that one's interests must be aligned with theirs. One can squash protests, teargas the public, disappear individuals, or even inherit a kingdom and not even recognize even the slightest appearance of a democratic mechanism. There exist too many excuses why this is the case for us to believe such incoherence.
What is even more inspiring than just the awakening of the Venezuelan people and the multiple elections won by Chavez is that they aren't alone in their awakening. More "dictators" were elected by the people in country after country in Latin America. More elites were rejected by the populations that they had suffocated. Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, all in their own way found ways to use their deformed democratic institutions to do the unlikely. They have all chosen paths much different, to varying degrees, than the one prescribed by international bankers and multinational corporations. Many have earned the label "dictator" and given its new meaning are proud of the paths they've chosen. Much of this may not have happened if it hadn't been for the revolutionary Hugo Chavez.
So let those undeserving leaders dripping in hypocrisy and arrogance feel revulsion. Let the people yearning for justice feel liberated from the ignorance and arrogance.
There is no end of history. There always is the desire to fight for and feel dignified. Hugo Chavez passed away because his is human. But what he embodied was the struggle of a people. With his passing, it is no doubt a sad day. But his passing doesn't mean that people will give up their struggle. He represented not only his people, but all people who strive to create a better world. He will be missed but what he left behind is a people much greater, much stronger, much more conscious, and much more determined than most elected leaders can claim.
Hugo Chavez, thank you for inspiring a continent and beyond. Comandante Chavez can rest in peace knowing that millions of people are doing the work that he believed they are capable of. Hugo Chavez is a true champion of democracy.