The ‘Commandante’ as he was affectionately known, was not only a leader of his country but also a friend of the poor. Chavez was a leader who refused to be bullied by the hungry West. He was also once famously equated to Martin Luther King Jr for his non-violent status. He always gave of himself and assisted his people. His redistribution of wealth, land reform, and poverty eradication programmes have pleased the poor. However, they have angered powerful forces in the West. His popularity amongst his people was, however, not surprising as he has used his country’s oil wealth to establish hundreds of feeding centres where the penniless poor can receive free meals and he also imported thousands of Cuban doctors and dentists in an ‘Oil for Doctors’ exchange programme.
His unpopularity with the West stems from his popular outspoken attacks on American imperialism and his leadership forming economic ties among Latin American nations outside US influence. He bravely demanded back taxes from US oil companies who did not pay taxes, royalties and polluted the environment. Hugo Chavez also once planned to secretly transfer his country’s gold reserves and financial accounts to Russia and China that amounted to between 11-29 billion dollars. Chavez believed that his foreign assets were in danger of being frozen one day as happened to Libya.
We know that bankers who own the US government routinely tried to kill Latin American leaders who refused to be their puppets. We also know that they mounted thousands of assassination attempts against such leaders.
Tangeni ‘Barnes’ Ekandjo