Hugo Châvez had a lot to say

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Way too much is being made of Hugo Chávez calling Bush the “devil” in his recent United Nations speech.

Unfortunately, it’s being used to divert attention from the very substantive and profoundly courageous things that the president of Venezuela said during his trip to New York.

In his UN speech, speaking of the U.S. drive for world domination under the Bush doctrine, Chávez called on the world body to act to stop the consolidation of this world dictatorship. He challenged Bush’s absurd notion that he is bringing peace to the Middle East.

Chávez admonished Bush for shamefully applying the terrorist label to those fighting to end poverty.

Chávez called on the UN to do more then just talk about all the poverty, hunger and suffering in the world. He called for reconstituting a UN that has real impact on the deep problems facing the planet.

At a speech at Cooper Union that evening, President Chávez went into some detail on the horrors of the Iraq war. He spoke with deep empathy for its Iraqi and U.S. victims.

He pointed out what his government is doing to end poverty and illiteracy in Venezuela. For example, he said “Two and a half years ago, 200,000 people could not read or write in Venezuela. Today they have all been brought to a sixth-grade level of literacy.” He said poverty in his country has been lowered to 10 percent — a remarkable achievement.

Chávez spoke eloquently against imperialism and capitalism. And he declared his Bolivarian Revolution’s goal of a “new 21st-century socialism.”

He pointed out that the majority of the U.S. people do not support the policies of George W. Bush. He noted that they have a chance to replace the Bush administration with one that is more intelligent and honest, and that this would be a real contribution to peace and justice in the world today. Chávez made clear that he was not talking about a communist or socialist government in the U.S. at this time, but one that would move our country in a better direction. This important message should not be ignored.

Of course, nobody calls more names and insults more people then Bush does — “axis of evil,” “evil-doers,” “people who hate freedom,” “flip-floppers,” “those who would cut and run” — you name it. In fact, demonizing those who disagree with them is Karl Rove’s stock in trade.

Not too long ago, this administration declared the democratically elected Bolivarian government of Venezuela an outlaw government, and proceeded to finance a failed right-wing coup against it. Overthrowing democratically elected governments is part of what they call “spreading freedom” around the world.

The Bush gang does not like the fact that Chávez’s government, through Venezuela’s state-owned CITGO oil company, is discounting oil to poor people here in the U.S., the same people Bush’s oil buddies are robbing every day.

They don’t like the free health care and education Chávez’s government is giving its people. They especially don’t like the fact that Venezuela offered to send millions of dollars in aid to the mainly Black victims of Katrina, to help supplement the woefully inadequate aid that the Bush administration was providing. Washington would not allow the people of New Orleans to receive Venezuela’s aid. After all, Bush’s mother thought folks were so lucky to be living in the Houston Astrodome.

Hugo Chávez is one of the new breed of anti-imperialist leaders in our hemisphere that this administration is working every day to overthrow. At this writing, ultra-right elements are trying to organize a boycott of CITGO. But I think all those who believe in peace and economic and social equality should buy CITGO gasoline and thank Venezuela for its solidarity with the American people.

The Bolivarian socialist revolution is giving hope and inspiration to growing numbers of our people of all races and nationalities.

What Chávez was reflecting in his remarks was the worldwide rejection of Bush as a dangerous and arrogant imperialist. He was calling for united political action here and around the world to defeat the Bush agenda.

For us here in the U.S., it was an important reminder, from a good amigo of working people everywhere, that we should step up our efforts for peace and increase our focus on Nov. 7.

Jarvis Tyner (jtyner@cpusa.org) is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA.