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Venezuelan masses make their voice heard

By Hamid Golpira Tehran Times staff writer. Reprinted with permission. TEHRAN, Aug. 19 -- The victory of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Sunday's recall election was also a victory for the downtrodden masses of Venezuela, Latin America, and the entire world.
Venezuelan masses make their voice heard  [PDF]
Venezuelan masses make their voice heard [PDF]
In a stinging rebuke to the imperialist forces of the United States and their lackeys, over 58 percent of the electorate voted to allow Chavez to finish his term of office and remain president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela until the 2006 election.

International observers announced that the election was free and fair, putting a damper on the opposition's efforts to cry foul.

This was a highly unusual election, in that it was marked by some of the greatest class divisions seen in any election throughout the world in recent years. Over 90 percent of the poor and working class voted for Chavez, whereas over 90 percent of the middle and upper classes voted to recall him. Often, a certain number of intellectuals from the middle and upper classes voted for the revolutionary candidate, but this tendency was almost non-existent in Sunday's election in Venezuela. Also, the almost total solidarity of the poor and working class was unprecedented. In most other elections in history, certain segments of the poor and working class usually vote for the reactionary party or candidate.

The masses have spoken. They recognize Chavez as a champion of the poor and refuse to believe the propaganda spouted by counter-revolutionary elements in the media, who claim he is ruining the economy and wants to become a dictator. They realize that Chavez has instituted social programs that benefit them. It is sheer hypocrisy for U.S. officials and other imperialists to accuse Chavez of being un-democratic. Chavez and his supporters have won several national elections over the past six years, including two presidential elections, a national referendum to revise the constitution, and now Sunday's recall election. How could he be more democratic?

The winds of change are truly blowing across the continent of South America. The seeds Che Guevara planted in the 1950s and 1960s are beginning to bear fruit.

The victory of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, another champion of the poor, in the Brazilian presidential election of 2002 marked a dramatic shift in the balance of power in South America, and Chavez's victory in the recall vote on Sunday is another step forward. Lula and Chavez are united in their opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and other U.S. plots to impose economic hegemony over Latin America. If Brazil and Venezuela form a strong alliance they could become a force to be reckoned with.

Although the situation across the continent is still in a state of flux, after the past two decades, during which the standard of living dropped significantly in South America, prospects for the future look better for the masses now.

It is true that Western imperialists are troubled by Chavez's anti-globalization stance and his criticism of the neo-liberal economic system, which he has called an evil system that oppresses the poor, but these are not the main reasons why they fear him.

The reactionaries from el norte (the north), who cheered the coup attempt in April 2002, are opposed to Chavez's economic and political policies, but they are more worried about the social consequences of Chavez's populism.

The masses of Venezuela believe in themselves now. Chavez has boosted the spirits of the poor and inspired them to be more self-confident. This is the most significant result of the Chavez phenomenon.

If this inspires the masses in the rest of the Third World to believe in themselves, we could see the beginning of serious social change of global proportions.

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