NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Venezuela's Real Division Over Who Benefits from Oil Wealth


    Alex Main: American "Mainstream" media accuses Chavez of leaving Venezuela "divided and polarized", but Venezuela is not divided over Chavez's personality, it's whether oil wealth will go to the people or the elite -   March 5, 2013
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter


    I support the Real News Network because it gives members an opportunity to make uncensored comments. - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    In his work at CEPR, Alexander Main focuses on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and the Caribbean and regularly engages with U.S. policy makers and civil society groups to inform the public debate. He is frequently interviewed by media in the U.S. and Latin American and his analyses on U.S. policy in the Americas have been published in a variety of domestic and international media outlets including Foreign Policy, NACLA and the Monde diplomatique. Prior to CEPR, Alexander spent more than six years in Latin America working as an international relations analyst. He has a degree in history and political science from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France.

    Transcript

    Venezuela's Real Division Over Who Benefits from Oil WealthPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

    In Venezuela on Tuesday, President Hugo Chávez died after a long fight against cancer. The American media wasted no time establishing its line towards the death. Here's The New York Times: "Chávez dies, leaving a bitterly divided Venezuela." One of the articles: "Leftist's demise at 58 deepens crisis in a divided country." Another article: "A polarizing figure who led a movement."

    Well, my question is: exactly which country is it on this planet which is not bitterly divided? United States, for example, which just ended recently an election permeated, dripping with racism, a country where one president has been assassinated, a civil rights leader was assassinated, a candidate for president was assassinated? Which country is it that isn't bitterly divided? And, of course, in a country with a lot of oil resources, there is going to be a big division about who owns those resources, just as there are exactly the same kind of divisions on every country on the planet. Anyway, that's my diatribe.

    Now joining us to talk about the death of Hugo Chávez is Alex Main. Alex is a policy analyst at CEPR in Washington, D.C. He worked for some time as a consultant to the Venezuelan government.

    Thanks very much for joining us, Alex.

    ALEX MAIN, SENIOR ASSOC. FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICY, CEPR: Thank you, Paul.

    JAY: So I guess what I'm saying is not that Venezuela isn't divided. And yeah, to some extent that division will be bitter, although we'll see exactly how this plays out. But every country is. But why is The New York Times making that their lead?

    MAIN: Well, I mean, what we're seeing now today, the leads of many papers, is a really absurd caricature of what Chávez was and what Venezuela is that I think, frankly, is very insulting, really, for the Venezuelan people, who are transformed into sort of wild-eyed fanatics that, you know, worship Chávez like the messiah, although apparently he's driven the economy into the ground, if you believe what many of these media outlets are saying. And, you know, that's just so remote from the reality on the ground in Venezuela.

    Chávez is often depicted as, you know, being a truly radical socialist. I think he probably is at heart. But he's taken his country through, you know, several steps that are still far beyond socialism. He's taken it from a wasteland that was the case in the 1990s that neoliberalism created in Venezuela, where the state was reduced to nearly nothing and the state oil company, which is absolutely vital for the health of the economy, was being progressively privatized and really in the hands of a managerial class that did not have the interests of the country at heart.

    So that oil industry was recovered under President Chávez with a great deal of division, polarization, and a real battle, as it turned out, a political battle that culminated in a coup d'état in April 2002, followed by a prolonged oil strike where this managerial class succeeded in closing down the oil industry and bringing the country to its knees economically. That was truly the worst time under Chavismo, and it was provoked by the opposition.

    Since then, since 2004, the country's economy has actually been quite healthy, with a pretty steady rate of per capita GDP growth of about 2.5 percent per year, even when you include the effect of the global recession, which did hit Venezuela pretty hard in 2009 in particular. And today Venezuela is a much healthier place economically.

    And we're also seeing something closer to, I would say, a social democratic state, not a radical socialist state—we're very far from that at the moment—but certainly where the state has a great deal more control of various strategic sectors of the economy, and particularly the oil industry, and is doing a much better job of distributing the oil revenues to people that had been traditionally marginalized poor of Venezuela, and that the amount of poverty has really been cut in half.

    JAY: So why, then, the venom coming from American media, most American politicians? I think what you're saying is true. It was a kind of social democracy in Venezuela. Many of the kind of laws that exist there are not that different than some of the more social democratic countries in Europe. But the venom for Chávez was certainly out of proportion to that. Now, one must say there was a very high level of rhetoric coming the other way from Chávez towards the United States.

    MAIN: Well, absolutely. And, you know, of course Chávez, it's true, he's extremely irreverent and not really into diplomatic protocol. And, of course, that was very much the case when he gave the speech at the UN General Assembly in 2006 where he called George W. Bush the Devil and so on. And so I think that irreverence has hurt him a lot in the media. I mean, there are basic codes that you're supposed to follow.

    But I think there's also a much deeper sort of ideological battle in all of this. And, of course, the U.S. traditionally—or, sorry, Latin America, traditionally the U.S.'s back yard, a real laboratory of sorts where neoliberalism was being implemented, really, throughout the region, Venezuela was at the center of that and a very strong ally of the U.S. in perpetuating that agenda throughout the region. And Chávez came in and said to hell with this.

    And, you know, he felt that his time was limited. He was, you know, fatefully very right about that. And I think Chávez, one of his big characteristics: he was always a man in a hurry. He knew that his time was counted, and he had a lot to get done. And there's still, of course, a lot to do in Venezuela. But in very little time he did manage to shake up the system quite a bit, quite remarkably.

    JAY: I guess the thing that he did—maybe the most significant thing he did, 'cause we'll see in the long term what the successes of what he called the Bolivarian Revolution are, but he got elected and several—over and over again, several times on a platform, a campaign that was totally opposed to what the American agenda for Latin America was. And, you know, he survived to tell the tale for—at least he survived till now.

    And though I must say Maduro, the vice president, on television today actually said that they think that his cancer was induced in some way by what he called Venezuela's historical enemies. I don't know there's any—I don't think there's any evidence of that, although they're saying they're hoping some day there'll be a scientific commission to look into that. But let's set that aside.

    But he opened the door to this, you know, leftward move of all of Latin Ameria. And it's no longer—most of Latin America is not marching to the American tune.

    MAIN: No, absolutely. Latin America has transformed. And I think we're seeing it in a lot of the homages that are being paid to Chávez today. We've heard from various countries, of course from some of the strongest allies, like Ecuador and Bolivia. Also from Brazil. Dilma Rousseff has given a very emotional fairwell to Chávez in remarks today.

    And, you know, what we certainly see is that it's a completely different region from when Chávez was elected. In the late '90s, he used to joke about it. He'd be sitting at these big summits, regional summits with Fidel Castro across the table and say, you know, we're the only two devils here, Fidel. But today, you know, from the U.S. perspective, there are many devils to deal with throughout the region. And Chávez really helped carve out that political space.

    And, of course, he also, you know, directly supported a lot of these leaders. He provided them with support that I think countered a lot of the U.S. support for some of the more elite interests throughout the region. He provided them with very crucial political support. And so, gradually you had a system of alliances that sort of stuck together and that is now a very solid one, certainly throughout South America.

    JAY: Right. Thanks for joining us, Alex.

    MAIN: Thank you, Paul.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments are currently disabled for this story

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35-Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    Important Revelations From New Leaks of CIA Torture Report
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting