The mainstream media and his opponents have painted Hugo Chávez as “…an evil dictator, as an irresponsible and not-so-smart clown,” writes Daniel Chavez in Red Pepper’s “Venezuela: The Revolution Begins Today,” but these characterizations disregard the material impact of Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution on Venezuela and Latin America more broadly. In the wake of Chávez’s death, Daniel Chavez challenges supporters and opponents alike to take an objective view of the changes in Venezuela since Hugo Chávez became president. He sees the many improved conditions for many Venezuelans that the revolution can carry forward without him.
From “Venezuela: The Revolution Begins Today,” by Daniel Chavez for Red Pepper: The truth is that millions of Venezuelans live better today than before Chávez took office in 1999. It is true that the domestic economy is shaky and that inflation is high, that the crime rate is horrendous, that access to sugar and other basic goods has not always been guaranteed, and that power outages have been unbearable in the recent past. But it is also true that in Venezuela poverty in all its variations and manifestations has fallen steadily and visibly in the past two decades—from 71 percent of the population in 1996 to just 21 percent in 2010 (and from 40 percent to 7.3 percent as far as extreme poverty is concerned). It is also indisputable that the real income of workers has risen, that social sectors previously excluded from the market have had access to subsidised products for family consumption, and that national wealth has been distributed in a more egalitarian manner than in most other countries of the region.