Phil Crafts: Political cartoon ‘upside down’ on Chavez
To the editor:
The political cartoon labelled “The Burden of Chavez” (Gazette, March 8) has got it upside down and backwards. It depicts the departed Venezuelan leader, holding a massive anvil labelled “Socialism,” all but crushing the tiny faceless masses staggering under the load. Quite the opposite is the case: Hugo Chavez, up from a dirt-floor childhood himself, put programs in place that changed how Venezuelans see themselves. He gave them faces, and inspired them to overthrow the overlords that had in fact oppressed their country for most of its history. The anvil those tyrants embraced is called capitalism.
Chavez’s socialist dream for his country included the idea that Venezuelan wealth — by most accounts it sits atop larger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia — should redound to the benefit of the Venezuelan people rather than to the luxury of the very few at the top. The names of these few have changed over time, many of them have been presidents of Venezuela, all of them have been traditionally encouraged to do the bidding of international capital, especially U.S. oil companies.
The obvious consequences of this concentration of wealth and power has been to increase the misery of the vast majority at the bottom. Historically, any resistance to these despots has been met with violent suppression, crushing of organized labor and censorship of the press, crackdowns that have had the full support of official U.S. policy.
Then along comes Chavez, whose main idea is to break the cycle and use political power for social change. Among the changes he implements are pensions for retired housewives, a chain of government-sponsored supermarkets operating at cost to bring nutrition to the malnourished and not-for-profit health care. By all accounts he had overwhelming support of a large majority of Venezuelans.
President Chavez dared to dream and implement a different path.
Cartoons like this one, which this reader is glad you printed, provide a perfect example of what anyone who questions American Exceptionalism, including its presumed “right” to foreign oil, can expect: You will be caricatured as an enemy of the people and an antidemocratic despot. It’s up to an informed citizenry to take exception.