Millions of citizens from across Venezuela traveled to the capital and cued for hours last Thursday in a miles-long procession to see Hugo Chavez’s body as it lay in state. So many in fact, the interim government of vice president, Nicolas Maduro announced, following his funeral Friday, the “Comandante” would lie in state an extra week. While death marked his finish, as it ends us all, the work Hugo Chavez began as South America’s first modern reformist president is not over; not by a long chalk, if the cries of Venezuela’s “Chavistas” are to be believed.
The send off Chavez received in the “Western” press was decidedly unflattering; a series of black epitaphs running the A to B gamut; from the celebratory Fox, to the barely contained gleefulness of Canada’s State broadcaster, whose radio news flagship reporter, Anna Maria Tremonti pronounced of his death on her program, ‘The Current;
“In a country dominated by a cult of personality where information is not free, the death of the populist and polarizing Hugo Chavez leaves a gaping hole and endless questions.” end quote.
Not least of those questions, for Canadians, should be: “Do we actually have to PAY for this crap masquerading as news!?”
Like Anna Maria Tremonti, Greg Palast is not a journalist, but he is an honest reporting investigator, whose peerless work for the BBC’s Newsnight broke wide-open the similarly lop-sided and wrong-headed reportage surrounding the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez and Venezuelan democracy. In an article he wrote at the Guardian about the coup almost eleven years ago, Palast observed;
“Thirty years ago, when US corporations demanded the removal of a bothersome president, the CIA thought it most important to aim propaganda at the Latin locals. Now, it seems, in the drumbeat of disinformation buzzwords about Chavez – “dictatorial”, “unpopular”, “resigned” – the propagandists have learned to aim at that more gullible pack of pigeons, the American and European press.”
How little has changed. While still working with Newsnight and the Guardian, Palast also writes a weekly column for Vice Magazine and is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, ‘Billionaires & Ballot Bandits,’ ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,’ and ‘Armed Madhouse.’ He’s also author of the highly acclaimed, ‘Vulture’s Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores.’
Greg Palast in the first half.
And; while the 2002 attempt against Hugo Chavez was a rare failure of Western democracy’s economic hit men, lessons learned there certainly helped guarantee the success of 2004’s usurpation of Haiti’s mild reformist president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The former liberation theologist priest Aristide was spirited farther out of the country than Chavez, all the way to the Central African Republic, from where there could be no triumphant return. Aristide’s two short-lived administrations are contrasted by the Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier reigns of terror, together lasting more than three decades, and seeing uncounted numbers of Haitians tortured, killed, and disappeared. Baby Duvalier was too flown out of Haiti courtesy of the US government, but his exile was a self-imposed, luxurious vacation in France that only ended when the booty he looted from the treasury on leaving began running out.
Duvalier returned to Haiti just over two years ago, and has danced with the judiciary there ever since. That jig picked up pace last Monday, seeing the former “president for life” in court answering questions about human rights abuses committed on his watch. Just hours after his first scheduled court appearance, the 61 year old was reported to have been hospitalized, his lawyer Reynold Georges saying only Duvalier “was sick.” It’s a sentiment long held in Haiti.
Kim Ives is a journalist, co-host of the WBAI radio program, ‘Haiti: The Struggle Continues,’ and co-founder of the international weekly newspaper Haiti Liberté. He’s also a writer and editor with Haiti Progres newspaper and a documentary filmmaker who has directed and worked on many films about Haiti, including: ‘Bitter Cane,’ ‘The Coup Continues,’ and ‘Rezistans.’ He also works with the Haiti Support Network (HSN), has led numerous delegations to Haiti, and frequently speaks about Haiti before church, student, and community audiences, and on Haitian and U.S. radio programs.
Kim Ives and tales from the dictator’s fall in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us news from our city’s streets and beyond. But first, Greg Palast and the passing of a president.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/