'The death and resurrection of Hugo Chavez'
Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002
By Gabriel Ash
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was ousted on Friday by a group of conspirators lead by an oilman and a general. The international press hastened to bury Chavez with summaries of his ill-fated career. But after spending only two days in military limbo, Chavez returned triumphantly to his palace on Sunday, carried by huge popular support. The events were stunning.
Chavez was democratically elected in 1998 in a landslide that signaled the bankruptcy of the old political order. He is a hard and polarizing figure, but those who call him a demagogue are wrong. Chavez is a real populist. Under his eye, Venezuela ratified one of the most progressive constitutions ever written. Using the new political procedures, Chavez dismantled the power of the old elite. Then, not only did he push policies of land redistribution and free education and health services for the poor, but in order to pay for these policies he found the courage, or the temerity, to take on U.S. corporate oil interests. Nobody can accuse Chavez of not taking his pledges to the voters seriously. MORE