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.