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Global Financial Crises And Hugo Chavez

By Abdul Basit

02 February, 2009

The Financial Crises that has gripped the globe resulting in the growing unemployment, poverty and hunger that will further aggravate during the coming months and years have created great uncertainty. While the global political and financial leaders and the media and establishment that support them, are groping in darkness about the solution to overcome this crises that has gripped the world community, it is futile to maintain expectation on the ability of these leaders to retrieve the situation as they themselves are the basic reason for this crises. This has been proven during the just concluded World Economic Forum meeting in Davos where empty discussions and debates was held, that lacked any concrete ideas to fix this crisis. The Davos Forum failed to find any answer and they stressed more about the problems instead of finding solutions.

The current crises is due to the wrong policies that were hitherto pursued by the so-called dominant leaders led by the United States and its allies, whose aim was to serve the corporate military establishment instead of addressing the crises as a whole. Most of the efforts of these leaders were to bailout the banks and corporate that paid huge bonuses and incentives to its executive at the expense of the taxpayers and common people. This is because the capitalist and consumerist policies pursued by these nations relied heavily on these financial institutions, corporations and Stock Exchanges. The recent ILO report has predicted a frightening scenario in which 51 million more jobs could be lost by the end of 2009, leading to a 7.1 percent global unemployment rate and those who manage to keep a job, earnings and other conditions of employment will deteriorate.

The world has been continuously deceived by theses leaders and we have repeatedly fallen into the same trap again and again. After the disastrous eight years of Bush administration, the world is looking forward to the Barack Obama, who might either be one of the highly sophisticated among the these traps or an initial source of future change. The coming months and years will provide the answer.

What Do We Require from the Leadership?

To this point, the arrogant and exploitative policies of the world's sole superpower and its allies at least temporarily benefited them and their allies. But since the last two years after the financial crises and the climatic crises that have engulfed the world, these leaders and nations can no longer continue these arrogant policies as they have also started facing the brunt of their policies that earlier ruined third world countries.

We cannot solve the impending crises with the existing leadership that is part of the problem and is more interested in igniting new conflicts, instead of solving the existing financial and existential issues that are haunting the humanity as a whole.

While searching for new leadership and new solution to overcome the serious financial consequences, we must discard the current economic and financial system and terminologies associated with it as it has only brought sufferings to humanity. We must also discard the ideological confines and arrogance and open minds and hearts to formulate the new route that we have to take to rescue the humanity from the current crises and for building a better future.

While criticizing the current leadership and their short sighted and arrogant policies, taking into consideration the dire consequences that we are about to face in the coming years, it is important to understand what kind of leadership is required and what are the policies to be implemented to overcome the serious challenges. Some of the immediate measures that the world requires to take to face the challenges are as follows:

1) With the global financial collapse and the ensuing bankruptcy and shut down of many corporations and companies that will result in job cuts and unemployment, we will face growing poverty, hunger and homelessness. This consecutively will result in financial and economic breakdown, social evils, crimes, chaos and civil wars. In order to prevent this situation, it is essential that the governments take necessary steps by taking over and controlling the public distribution system and other essential and life sustaining services and ensuring the smooth distribution of basic essential items including food to all sections of the society to prevent further deterioration and civil strife that may follow. This is also essential taking into consideration the depleting food stocks and the growing population.

2) With the collapse of the neoliberal economic and financial system that the current administration is trying to save with all its efforts, the 'other' leadership must formulate and implement alternative sustainable economic policies that will ensure equitable distribution of the limited and depleting resources and ensuring environmentally compliant, agrarian economic system as a replacement to exploitative, consumerist and polluted capitalist system. This includes conversion from a financial to a humanistic economy and implementing an interest free banking system. The localisation of economies by building self sustaining cooperatives and ensuring self sufficiency at the grassroots level is one of the basic ingredients to ride over the crises and for building a sustainable society.

3) The great disparities and injustice between nations and resulting exploitation and oppressions has led to the conflicts and social chaos. The depleting resources and the financial collapse will further aggravate these crises. In order to prevent future conflicts and to bring justice to all nations and all strata of the society, we need a global leadership that is above narrow confines and ensure justice for all especially the oppressed and the downtrodden. Resistance, mass movements and civil disobedience have to be organized against the existing establishment representing the capitalist- corporate-military axis and their neoliberal capitalist policies. Resistance should also be organized against the arrogant imperialist foreign policies of these nations pursue and the resulting exploitation, injustice and brutality that is imposed on the people of other nations by them.

4) Addressing and implementing policies to counter the threat of climate change that has resulted in huge natural upheavals, melting glaciers, rising sea level, extinction of variety of species and depleting agricultural yield.

Is there any leader of distinction and stature among the present statesmen who can lead the world to overcome the dire situation that we have got ourselves into?

The 'Other' Leadership

Taking into account the current leadership and their negative performance, it is natural that we make an in-depth analysis about the 'other' leaders who are accused by the dominant media and regimes as 'tyrants' and 'dictators'. Although many leaders come to our mind, the most prominent among them are Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Ahmedinejad of Iran..etc. In this article we will look into the policies pursued by the one among them namely Hugo Chavez, an icon of resistance against Imperialists and oppressors. In order to understand his leadership, it is important to assess the progress and change he has brought in Venezuela during the last 10 years of rule.

Hugo Chavez of Venezuela

Hugo Rafael Chavez Frías who came to power in Venezuela as the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution (popular democracy, economic independence, equitable distribution of revenues, and an end to corruption - in Venezuela) and promoting democratic socialism and Latin American Integration is a strong critic of neolibralism, globalization and the imperialist foreign policy of United States and its allies.

The eventful and tumultuous rule of Chavez who got elected President of Venezuela, in 1998 and re-elected in 2000 and 2006 implemented many Bolivarian Missions that was successful in combating disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty, and other social ills. He also successfully initiated several reforms aimed at improving the social welfare of his people including land transfer program, a free government funded health care system and free education up to the University level. These reforms helped in lowering the infant mortality rates by 18% between 1998 and 2006, reduced inflation by 12.3% with improved economic growth and increased enrolment in primary school enrolment of millions of students. In 2003 and 2004, Chavez launched a number of social and economic campaigns as he struggled to maintain popular support including Mission Robinson, Mission Sucre and Mission Ribas (for providing free education for millions of Venezuelans), Mission Guaicaipuro (to protect the livelihood, religion, land, culture and rights of Venezuela's indigenous peoples), Mission Vuelta al Campo and Mission Barrio Adentro (constructing, funding and refurbishing secondary and tertiary public health care facilities and construction of thousands of free medical clinics for the poor), Mission Arbol (an environmental program of reforestation) and Mission Mirinda that established a National Militia. He also enacted food and housing subsidies. In 2008, 62.9% of Venezuelans have bought subsidized food from the Food Market Network (Mercal). He has also formed 100,000 cooperatives during the past few years that are the centrepiece of President Hugo Chavez's new socialist model to create jobs and redistribute this oil-rich country's wealth. The government offers cooperatives exemption from all taxes as well as interest-free loans. The movement is changing the nature of Venezuelan society, putting quality of life and "solidarity" above the profit motive. Due to his reforms, family income among the poorest stratum grew more than 150% between 2003 and 2006. According to official sources, the percentage of people below the national poverty line has decreased significantly during the Chavez years, from 48.1% in 2002 to 12.3% in 2007. Since 1999, 2.7 million Venezuelans no longer are impoverished, 437,000 in 2008 alone; extreme poverty stood at 42% earlier in the 1990s; today it's 9.1%. The government earmarked 44.6% of the 2007 budget for social investment, with 1999-2007 averaging 12.8% of GDP. GDP growth rates were 18% in 2004, 9% in 2005 and 9.6% in the first half of 2006, with the private sector growing at a 10.3% clip. In March 2006 the Communal Council Law was approved, whereby communities that decide to organize themselves into a council can be given official state recognition and access to federal funds and loans for community projects. This skips the local and state governments that are perceived as corrupt. From 2004 to the first half of 2006, non-petroleum sectors of the economy showed growth rates greater than 10%. Datos reports real income grew by 137% between 2003 and Q1 2006. Unemployment dropped by 7 %. The World Bank calculated a 10% drop in poverty.

He attained all these progress in the midst of constant threat, coup attempts (including a failed attempt to overthrow him in April 2002), assassination attempts general strikes and lockouts conducted by the corporates and the elite with the support of foreign masters. In return for the conspiracy hatched by the Superpower to overthrow his government, he responded by initiating a program to provide cheaper heating fuel for low-income families in several areas of the US. The program was expanded in September 2006 to include four of New York's five boroughs, earmarking 25 million gallons of fuel for low-income New York residents at 40% off the wholesale market price. That quantity provides enough fuel to heat 70,000 apartments, covering 200,000 New Yorkers, for the entire winter. Chavez also offered heating oil to poor, remote villages in Alaska. In 2007, Chavez signed a deal with Ken Livingstone, the then Mayor of London for a similar program

Chavez placed greater emphasis on alternative economic development and international trade models, and organized the countries of Latin America against neoliberal model of economic development and supported these countries in the form of extremely ambitious hemisphere-wide international aid agreements. . On April 30, 2007 Chavez announced that Venezuela would be formally pulling out of the IMF and the World Bank, having paid off its debts of around $3 Billion five years ahead of schedule and so saving US $8 million. Chavez then announced the creation of a regional bank, the Bank of the South, and said that the IMF and the World Bank were in crisis. Chavez has acted against the Washington Consensus by supporting alternative models of economic development, and has advocated cooperation among the world's poor nations, especially those in Latin America.

Hugo Chavez took an unrelenting stand against the American hegemony and the brutalities shown by the Zionists and the Imperialists. The recent expulsion of Israeli Ambassador from Venezuela and the breaking of ties with Israel for the genocide against people Gaza were much appreciated throughout the world. He has remained a symbol of resistance against the brutalities and oppression and has been the voice of the downtrodden and the oppressed. In a famous speech that was received with wide applause in UN on 20th September 2006 in which he called the former US President as the 'devil', he strongly attacked the US policies and its current pattern of domination, exploitation and plunder of the peoples of the world. Due to his strong stand against the brutalities of Imperialists and Zionists, he has been considered a hero of the oppressed throughout the world including Middle East. During the brutal attack on Gaza by the Zionists, Deputy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hamas Government, Dr. Ahmed Yousef send an open letter to Hugo Chavez in which he stated that "Throughout history, in a just conflict, there always emerges a champion, a single hero who, by his actions, embodies all the virtues the masses aspire to. You have demonstrated that you are such a man".

South America Shows The Way

Hugo Chavez along with his counterparts namely Eva Morales of Bolivia and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador and counterparts in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil has together been challenging the superpower next door and its neoliberal and imperialist policies. They have also been providing an alternative economic model for the global economy that is infected by financial recession. The recent World Social Forum that was held in the Brazilian city of Belem as an alternative to World Economic Forum being held Davos with the theme 'another world is possible', was well received with the presence of leaders from most of the South American presidents to promote Latin America as a model for global economic development and co-operation. In this conference Hugo Chavez strongly criticized the global capitalist system for the current financial mess. He quoted that "In Davos the world that is dying is meeting, here the world that is being born is meeting.", a true portrayal of the failing capitalist system and a desire for new world.

Venezuelans will be participating in a referendum on February 15th to vote on whether he can contest for elections when he completes his second term of office in 2013. Whether he wins the referendum or not, he has already taken his place in history as a great leader who courageously fought the seemingly omnipotent imperialists and their allies and at the same time brought progress and sustainable prosperity to his people by eradicating poverty through equitable distribution of wealth.

Congratulations...Hugo Chavez. We Salute you.

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