Hasta Siempre, Comandante

So Chavez is dead.

I was in Venezuela during the run up to the 2005 elections and I found it nearly impossible to get a balanced opinion of the man. In my experience the poor and some of the indigenous peoples (only some, the others were so remote they couldn’t give a fuck who was in charge) worshipped him. The middle and upper classes appeared to hate him and  they were exceptionally suspicious of his relationship with Cuba. I’ll never forget one embittered and unemployed Venezuelan teacher telling me he couldn’t get a job because he wasn’t Cuban.

If I found it difficult to get a clear picture of an apparently divisive man in his home country, then it was even more so to form an opinion through the international media who painted him as a modern day, Bolivarian messiah flicking the finger to the imperialist yankees.

Maybe I’m just a champagne socialist; or maybe I’m a silly, naive romantic; or it might just be the contrarian in me mourning the passing of a fellow contrarian but I’m sad to see the maverick go.

Not that it matters what I think.

I never had to live under his government or experience the hardships of so many in Venezuela.

For what it is worth, I hope a beautiful country and the amazing people who live there get the leadership and government they deserve, and I truly hope his passing doesn’t lead to destabilisation and pain.

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