Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Wednesday, March 12th, 2014, the Curmudgeon was invited to attend the inauguration of a photographic exhibition entitled “Chávez: seeding the fatherland, harvesting the revolution”. This event is part of the Worldwide Journey “Chávez Passed by Here” (“Por aquí pasó Chávez”).
In Brazil, the Journey’s kick-off was held February 4th in São Paulo. Why February 4th? Now called the “Day of National Dignity”, that day marked the 22nd anniversary of the unsuccessful attempt, led by then Lt. Col. Hugo Chávez, to take power in Venezuela by capturing President Andrés Perez upon his return from capitalist bastion Davos.
The exhibition in Rio was definitely low key, held in the newly repainted atrium of the Palácio Universitário da Praia Vermelha da UFRJ, across the street from the Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro. There were some eight boards with pictures of Chávez at various times of his political career, including one commemorating the 11th to the 13th of April 2002.
On April 11th Chávez, who had been democratically elected President in 1999, was kidnapped and deposed by the right wingnuts of Caracas, who installed the Chairman of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce as the new President. Two days later, Chávez was triumphantly returned to office, carried on the shoulders of the people.
Returning to the exhibition, the highlight of the evening was the speech by the Venezuelan Ambassador to Brazil, Admiral in Chief Diego Molero Bellavia. “Molero” (as Chávez always called him) was one of the first adherents to Chávez’s regime, and one of his principal lieutenants — he was appointed Minister of Defense by Chávez.
Ambassador Molero is adamant that the armed forces must support the path to socialism blazed by Chávez, and that anyone who opposes this is a fascist and/or a terrorist. In his talk, he alternated between vignettes showing Chávez as a caring, feeling person (unprompted applause from the audience) and reminding the audience that Chávez’s revolution must be carried on at all costs (louder unprompted applause).
He repeatedly recalled Chávez’s dream to merge all Latin American people, through the creation of UNASUL, so as to throw off the imperialist yoke of the U.S. (much louder applause, raised fists, shouts of “¡Chávez Vive!”).
So, you ask, what has this to do with Brazil? Quite a lot, really. UNASUL was the joint creation of Chávez and former President Lula, both of whom dreamed, for different reasons, of creating a cohesive bloc of South American countries with little influence from the United States.
UNASUL has indeed cohered. Led by [President Dilma Rousseff], it recently put out a unanimous (repeat, unanimous) statement confirming its opposition to the protests, whose purpose, they all (repeat, all) believe, is to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela. The Curmudgeon agrees with them, because most of the opposition leaders are now saying they’re not quitting the streets until Maduro resigns. That’s not democracy, that’s “mobocracy”.
The Curmudgeon, having been among the believers, knows that support for the Chávez legacy is alive and well, and not just among a majority of Venezuelans — many Brazilians feel the same way. United States support of the protests is seen by many here as a return to the Monroe Doctrine, which had supposedly been as dead and buried as the Iron Curtain.
Conflict in Ukraine has resurrected the Iron Curtain — will conflict in Venezuela resurrect the Monroe Doctrine? The Curmudgeon certainly hopes not, but he wonders.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)