Alex Ramirez / The Silhouette
Hugo Chavez was a unique political figure, controversial for his political stances, his vocal out lashing of former U.S. President George W. Bush (calling him a donkey, as well as the ‘devil’ during a United Nations General Assembly speech) and forging close friendships with some of the Western world’s gravest enemies; Mahmoud Ahmadineajad of Iran, Fidel Castro of Cuba and the recent Muammar Gaddafi of Libya – to name a few.
Yet, most people fail to acknowledge what Hugo Chavez truly represented not only for Venezuela, but Latin America.
You can disagree with his political, economic or ideological stances, but one thing that cannot be negated is that Hugo Chavez has entered the history books as one of the greatest Latin American leaders in the history of the Americas.
Having won 13 out of 14 elections and referendums throughout his 14-year tenure as President of Venezuela – elections that even former U.S. President Jimmy Carter stated, “…as a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve [The Carter Center] monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world” – you will have a tough time arguing he was a dictator, unless you were threatened by his radical political and economic agenda.
Understandably so, some did not benefit from Chavez’s sweeping reforms, in particular those who benefitted from the previous economic order in which he was radically transforming.
If you want to make an omelette, you have to crack some eggs. Chavez was never afraid to make his revolutionary omelette regardless of the powerful enemies he would make.
Even when the traditional oligarchy of Venezuela illegally removed Chavez from power in a short-lived coup d’etat that lasted less than 72 hours, this did not intimidate or scare him into reconsidering his political course. Instead, it added fuel and conviction to his fire.
What could have been his fire?
Some will say social justice. Some will say a tyrannical quest for power.
I argue that it was his desire to reclaim a historical debt.
Hugo Chavez was a son of an Amer-Indian and Afro-Venezuelan; the two most victimized racial entities in the historical development of Latin America. He (literally) embodied the moral authority to reclaim the historical debt owed to the most marginalized and impoverished populations of Venezuela, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The proof is in the pudding: he single-handedly fulfilled that moral authority, highlighted in the fact that his death will have reverberations beyond the boundaries of Venezuela.
Chavez leaves a legacy and an example in the history of the Americas.
He is a legend that will be spoken about for decades and centuries to come.
It is a tough pill to swallow for his political adversaries, especially for Venezuelans who opposed him. But in the words of Winston Churchill:
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Hugo Chavez certainly had some powerful enemies.