The Phenomenon of Hugo Chavez

Carlos Fuentes recently remarked in an NPR interview in context of its literature:

“There are now 30-year-old Mexican writers who do great novels in which Mexico isn’t even mentioned… ” Fuentes says. “You have an absolute freedom in Mexican writing today in which you don’t necessarily have to deal with the Mexican identity. You know why? Because we have an identity… We know who we are. We know what it means to be a Mexican. Now the problem is to discover difference — not identity but difference: sexual difference, religious difference, political difference, moral differences, aesthetical differences…”

Though it may not exactly be a revival of socialism in the sense it was known in the 20th century, Latin America has been a continent in tumult, in search of its voice as much in politics as in literature.

Its search for a political identity spans Simon Bolivar, the Mexican Revolution, Fidel Castro, Liberation Theology, Sub- Commandante Marcos…and now Hugo Chavez.

John Pilger puts the rise of Hugo Chavez in a historical perspective, and why it is necessary to see Hugo Chavez as an indicator of newer possibilities.

The social movements are now a decisive force in every Latin American country – even in the state of fear that is the Colombia of Alvaro Uribe Velez, Bush’s most loyal vassal. Last month, an indigenous movement marched through every one of Colombia’s 32 provinces demanding an end to “an evil as great as the gun”: neoliberalism. All over Latin America, Hugo Chavez is the modern BolIvar. People admire his political imagination and his courage. Only he has had the guts to describe the United States as a source of terrorism and Bush as Senor Peligro (Mr Danger). He is very different from Fidel Castro, whom he respects. Venezuela is an extraordinarily open society with an unfettered opposition that is rich and still powerful. On the left, there are those who oppose the state in principle, believe its reforms have reached their limit, and want power to flow directly from the community. They say so vigorously, yet they support Chavez. A fluent young anarchist, Marcel, showed me the clinic where Cuban doctors gave his girlfriend critical emergency treatment. (In a barter arrangement, Venezuela gives Cuba oil in exchange for doctors.)

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