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Hugo Chavez

  • Originally published 04/18/2013

    Marie Arana: Latin America’s Go-To Hero

    Marie Arana, a journalist, novelist and adviser to the librarian of Congress, is the author, most recently, of “Bolívar: American Liberator,” and a guest columnist.Can you name an American founder whose name is shouted in the streets, whose legacy inspires fanatical worship, whose image is used to bolster ideals not his own, whose mantle is claimed by both left and right? There is no Washington party, no Jeffersonian republic. No one runs for president in Madison’s name. But in Latin America, as the Venezuelan election on Sunday reminded us, the question is easy, and the answer is Simón Bolívar.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Look at Hugo Chavez Through a Latin American Lens

    Alejandro Velasco

    Hugo Chavez during a state visit to Guatemala. Credit: Agência Brasil.Few would contest that Hugo Chávez had a penchant for fiery rhetoric. Less understood is the role that rhetoric played in turning Latin America from a region where the United States held unparalleled sway when he first took office in 1999, to one where leftist governments of varied stripes now assert unprecedented autonomy vis-à-vis their neighbor to the north.

  • Originally published 03/08/2013

    HNN Hot Topics: Hugo Chavez, 1954-2013

    News Hugo Chávez of Venezuela dies (3-5-13) Commentary: Historians Greg Grandin: The Legacy of Hugo Chávez (3-5-13) Commentary: Media Mac Margolis: Hugo Chávez’s House of Cards (3-7-13 Tariq Ali: Hugo Chávez and Me (3-6-13)Francisco Toro: What Fidel Taught Hugo (3-5-13) Past Controversies: South of the Border

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Francisco Toro: What Fidel Taught Hugo

    Francisco Toro is a Venezuelan journalist, political scientist and blogger. Born and raised in Caracas, he attended High School and College in the United States.Hugo Chávez died today in Venezuela at the age of 58, but his battle with a never-specified form of cancer was waged largely in a Cuban hospital—a telling detail, as Cuba loomed just as large in his political imagination as his native country.It's a point that my gringo friends up north always struggle with. The Cuban Revolution's immense influence on the region has been constantly underestimated and misunderstood from day one. It's only a slight exaggeration to suggest that everything of note that's happened south of the Rio Grande since 1959 has been an attempt either to emulate, prevent, or transcend the Cuban experience. Chávez will be remembered as the most successful of Fidel Castro's emulators, the man who breathed new life into the old revolutionary dream. 

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Tariq Ali: Hugo Chávez and Me

    Tariq Ali has been a leading figure of the international left since the 60s. He has been writing for the Guardian since the 70s. He is a long-standing editor of the New Left Review and a political commentator published on every continent. His books include The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power, and The Obama Syndrome

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Mac Margolis: Hugo Chávez’s House of Cards

    A longtime correspondent for Newsweek, Mac Margolis has traveled extensively in Brazil and Latin America. He has contributed to The Economist, The Washington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor, and is the author of The Last New World: The Conquest of the Amazon Frontier.It was a farewell fit for a caudillo. Waving flags and wearing bright red berets, tens of thousands of Venezuelans poured into the streets of Caracas Wednesday, hoping to catch a glimpse of the flag-draped coffin bearing the remains of president Hugo Chávez, who died of cancer at age 58 on Tuesday.More than a farewell, this “sea of red” in the streets was a dramatic display of how completely the leader of the so-called Bolívarian revolution for “21st-century Socialism” has kept Venezuela and much of Latin America in thrall for nearly a generation. As mourners wept and punched the air in grief, the heads of states of a dozen Latin nations flocked to the Venezuelan capital to pay tribute to the mercurial man of the people, whom Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff described as “a great leader, an inspiration, and a great friend.”

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Greg Grandin: The Legacy of Hugo Chávez

    Greg Grandin teaches history at New York University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most recent book, Fordlandia, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.I first met Hugo Chávez in New York City in September 2006, just after his infamous appearance on the floor of the UN General Assembly, where he called George W. Bush the devil. “Yesterday, the devil came here,” he said, “Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.” He then made the sign of the cross, kissed his hand, winked at his audience and looked to the sky. It was vintage Chávez, an outrageous remark leavened with just the right touch of detail (the lingering sulfur!) to make it something more than bombast, cutting through soporific nostrums of diplomatese and drawing fire away from Iran, which was in the cross hairs at that meeting.The press of course went into high dudgeon, and not just for the obvious reason that it’s one thing for opponents in the Middle East to call the United States the Great Satan and another thing for the president of a Latin American country to personally single out its president as Beelzebub, on U.S. soil no less.

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Hugo Chávez of Venezuela dies

    CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela died Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer, the government announced, leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis that grew more acute as he languished for weeks, silent and out of sight in hospitals in Havana and Caracas.His departure from a country he dominated for 14 years casts into doubt the future of his socialist revolution. It alters the political balance in Venezuela, the fourth-largest foreign oil supplier to the United States, and in Latin America, where Mr. Chávez led a group of nations intent on reducing American influence in the region.Mr. Chávez changed Venezuela in fundamental ways, empowering and energizing millions of poor people who had felt marginalized and excluded.But Mr. Chávez’s rule also widened society’s divisions. His death is sure to bring more changes and vast uncertainty as the nation tries to find its way without its central figure....

  • Originally published 02/19/2013

    Washington Tortures Everywhere ... Except Latin America

    Greg Grandin

    Map of CIA rendition sites. Countries in red cooperate with the CIA to detain and allegedly torture terror suspects. Drawn from data first published in the Washington Post. Map credit: HNN staff/Wiki Commons.Originally posted on TomDispatch.com

  • Originally published 10/19/2010

    Oliver Stone’s Latest Travesty

    Ron Radosh

    This weekend, Oliver Stone’s new documentary, South of the Border, his ode to Hugo Chavez and South and Latin America’s new quasi-Marxist and not so quasi dictators, has opened in New York City and Los Angeles, and will open nationwide in a week.  It had a showing this past Wednesday at the AFI Silverdocs Festival in the Washington, D.C., area, and my article about it  appears today in the weekend edition of  the Wall Street Journal.  I argue therein:  “What Mr. Stone and his writers have presented is a standard far-left narrative that is part of a long line of propaganda films, a modern American version of the old agitprop.  There are no dissenting voices in this film.  Nor is there any mention of the fact that Mr. Chávez has closed down television and radio stations that disagree with him and arrested dissenting political figures.”  The film is what you can expect from the likes of Oliver Stone, a virtual know-nothing who uses his celebrity and acclaim as a film director to spew out hatred for the country that has made him wealthy and influential.

  • Originally published 08/04/2010

    Nathan Gardels: Oliver Stone on Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, and Hugo Chávez

    Oliver Stone is the director of some of Hollywood’s most famous films, from “Platoon” to “Wall Street” to “JFK.” Last week he sat down in the Los Angeles offices of his production company, IXTLAN, to talk with Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels about his recent documentary, “South of the Border,” and his upcoming release, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”"South of the Border"Nathan Gardels: As you show in your recent documentary, “South of the Border,” US diplomacy and the American media have reacted with general hostility to the empowerment of the poor and indigenous in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and, to some extent, in Brazil. Why is that?Oliver Stone: I suppose it comes from the old imperial impulse of the US toward Latin America going back to the Monroe Doctrine, Teddy Roosevelt, the protection of American business interests, and support for military dictators throughout the cold war. The US remains hostile to anyone on the left coming to power in their “backyard,” anyone who thinks the resources of a country belong to its people.

  • Originally published 07/26/2010

    Oliver Stone Still Doesn't Get It

    Larry Rohter

    One month ago, I incurred the wrath of Oliver Stone for stating the obvious in an article I wrote:  his new movie South of the Border, ostensibly a “documentary” about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and a group of supposedly like-minded South American colleagues, is so riddled with errors, misrepresentations, fabrications and fraudulent statistics as to be useless except as an example of over-the-top propaganda.  At the screening for the movie that I attended, I counted more than two dozen assertions that are demonstrably incorrect, but chose, in the limited space available to me, to focus on but a handful.

  • Originally published 07/17/2010

    Venezuela's Chavez exhumes hero Simon Bolivar's bones

    The remains of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar have been exhumed in Venezuela to determine the cause of his death nearly 200 years ago. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered Bolivar's tomb be opened because he suspects he was murdered. Most accounts maintain Bolivar died from tuberculosis in Colombia in 1830. More than 50 experts including criminal investigators and forensic pathologists have been examining the remains to see if Bolivar was the victim of a conspiracy rather than disease, according to Venezuela's attorney-general, Luisa Ortega Diaz....

  • Originally published 07/05/2010

    The Cuban Embargo, South American Security, and Teaching America's "Officers-In-Training": An Interview with Naval Academy Professor Daniel Masterson

    Priscilla Hart

    How has Cuba changed since Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother Raul? And how are U.S.-Cuban relations today?  As the U.S.-imposed Cuban embargo turns 50 this year—established the year after Castro came to power in 1959—many Americans wonder if United States foreign policy is still served by the embargo. Historian Daniel Masterson considers the arguments on both sides of the debate, and the Obama administration’s inertia in effecting change. An expert in Latin American civil-military relations, revolution and counterinsurgency, race relations and immigration, Professor Masterson also examines current affairs in South America as well as potential security concerns. Masterson began teaching at the United States Naval Academy, the second oldest of the country’s five service academies, in 1979. He has seen firsthand the academic training of thousands of young men and women who have gone on to provide key leadership roles as naval and marine corps officers and commanders in America’s military establishment. Located in Annapolis, Maryland on a windy stretch of land abutting the Chesapeake Bay, the Academy has influenced military policy and pioneered war technologies in a wide range of global and regional conflicts since its founding in 1845.

  • Originally published 03/31/2010

    Jeffrey W. Rubin: Cesar Chavez and Hugo Chavez: More Alike than They are Different...

    Jeffrey W. Rubin is associate professor of history at Boston University, where he directs the Enduring Reform Project, a research initiative focusing on business responses to progressive reform. He received a MacArthur Foundation Research and Writing Grant for his research on social movements and democracy in Latin America.March 31 is the birthday of the Chavez Americans love to love ... Cesar Chavez led the United Farm Workers (UFW) to successfully take on California agribusiness in the 1960s, and his soft-spoken manner and fierce commitment to social justice inspired a generation of activists.Supporters remember the grape and lettuce boycotts of the 1960s and '70s as a time when ordinary people joining together began to change the world. Mr. Chavez' birthday is celebrated in eight US states, and during the 2008 campaign US President Obama said he'd make it a national holiday, in tribute to the charismatic Latino icon.Hugo Chavez is the Chavez Americans love to hate. Blustery President, challenger of US influence in Latin America, and subverter of democratic norms, Mr. Chavez seeks counsel from Fidel Castro and mocks US presidents in public. He polarizes Venezuela by alternately rallying the poor and shutting down radio stations, and he urges leftist presidents across the Americas to take up his anti-US and anti-capitalist stance.

  • Originally published 02/01/2009

    Chavez: The Story of a Bully Boy

    Michael Rowan

    Hugo Chavez has made a career of being rejected by authorities who then underestimated his ability to take sweet revenge. Chavez was rejected by his family, the military, the political elites of Venezuela and finally U.S. President George W. Bush, but survived to punish every one of them. Here is the sad story of the making of a bully boy.Chavez experienced the bitterness of rejection early in life. Born in a dirt-poor village to a large family, his childish wild behavior was handled by locking him in a dark closet for days on end. His parents gave him to his grandmother to bring up -- he calls her Mama to this day. As a teenager he would cross the street to avoid even eye contact with his real mother.While both his parents were teachers, at school Hugo was a dismal failure. He failed science in high school; he failed the test for university entrance; he faked his way into the military academy as a baseball player; and he finished last in his military class, blaming it on his teachers.

  • Originally published 10/19/2008

    The Return of Violent Anti-Americanism in Latin America

    Alan McPherson

    On September 20, a mob supporting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, armed with sticks and machetes, took the streets of León to prevent a peaceful anti-government rally. They stopped traffic, searched buses and cars, and clashed with anti-riot police. A week later, another Ortega mob attacked students chanting “We don’t want violence.” They kicked them and whipped them with belts.A yanqui opposition?The media mostly noticed that Ortega, former Sandinista leader, was turning against several of his leftist allies, now organized as the Sandinista Renovation Movement. Also clear was his use of state institutions, namely the media, to slander his opposition. What few noted, however, was that Ortega had labeled the opposition “puppets of the yanqui empire.” While the motivations of the Nicaraguan government were clearly domestic, the rhetoric invoked the shopworn bogeyman of all-encompassing U.S. power.Was this scapegoating? Ortega certainly never explained how men like Ernesto Cardenal and Sergio Ramírez, true black-and-red Sandinistas targeted by the Reagan administration’s contras in the 1980s and still committed progressives, could be “neoliberal oppressors,” as one Ortega supporter called the opposition.

  • Originally published 12/03/2006

    An End to Interventionism in Venezuela

    Nikolas Kozloff

    With the Dec. 3 presidential election in oil-rich Venezuela, the time has come for an overhaul of the Bush administration's catastrophic policy in that South American country. The U.S. channeling of millions of dollars to Venezuelan organizations, many of which are critical of President Hugo Chavez's regime, is hugely destabilizing and will foster great acrimony and distrust between the two nations. U.S. meddling has stirred up resentment left over from April 2002 when Chavez was briefly overthrown in a coup. Prior to the coup, U.S. policymakers met with the plotters and funneled money to the opposition through the U.S. taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy. Chavez has accused his electoral opponent, Manuel Rosales, the governor of the western state of Zulia, of fostering a separatist movement, together with "Mr. Danger" (Chavez's name for President Bush). The Venezuelan attorney general has initiated an investigation to determine whether one right-wing organization is guilty of treason. The group, Rumbo Propio ("Our Own Path"), has placed banners in oil-rich Zulia state advocating regional separation.

  • Originally published 06/20/2004

    Why We Should Celebrate the Resignation of Latin American Envoy Otto Reich

    Max Paul Friedman

    In the halcyon days of his first presidential campaign, George W. Bush often spoke of wishing to mend fences with Latin America. His first gesture was not promising: appointing a right-wing extremist to the key post of Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, then Special Envoy to Latin America, who had a record of supporting terrorists and whose tenure markedly worsened U.S.-Latin American relations. The departure of Otto J. Reich offers an opportunity, but only if President Bush does not repeat the mistake.Otto Reich, a former ambassador to Venezuela, was never known for his diplomatic finesse. He has compared Cuba to Nazi Germany and said that when the Baltimore Orioles played baseball in Havana, it was “like playing soccer in Auschwitz.” In his post in Caracas, he worked for the release of two terrorists who had blown up a Cuban civilian airliner, killing 73 people.During the Central American wars of the 1980s, Reich headed a secret operation not seen in the United States since the days of Richard Nixon, Watergate and COINTELPRO: a concerted effort to spread propaganda from the White House to American citizens.