Tuesday, March 5, 2013

RIP: Hugo Chavez - July 28, 1954 - March 5, 2013

Photo credit: Steve Pike in The New Yorker
Born into a poor family, he becomes an altar boy and he looks around.  He hates imperialism.  It must sting to notice that an outsider named Rockefeller owns three of the largest ranches in Venezuela.  He becomes a  revolutionary and eventually a leader.  He despised many of the foreign policies of my country.  His heart was in the right place even if he wasn't entirely successful at reaching good goals.  He loved the poor.  Perhaps he was better at ideas than the implementation of them -- not so great at governing.  Sometimes he opened his mouth before he engaged his brain; still I, for one, was tickled when at the podium of the United Nations in 2006, Hugo Chavez, referring to the fact that George W. Bush had stood in the same spot the day before, remarked, "The devil came right here ... and it still smells of sulfur today."

I don't know about the odor of sulfur but he was right about the evil impersonated in the unintelligent "is out children educated?" man who took the advice of really evil men and got my country into a mess which I don't feel confident we'll ever get out of. Decline and fall, and all of that.

(That United Nations incident gave me a thrill close to that I got when, in 1992, Sinead O'Connor tore up a picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live.  That incident, for its symbolism, made me jubilant!)

Here in Massachusetts there is a non-profit organization which provides heating oil to the needy at below-market prices.  This group asked all the major oil companies to help; the only one willing to participate was Citgo, a company nationalized by Chavez, and so owned by the people of Venezuela.

I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone who reaches out to help those who've been trodden down.  I'm glad, when my tank is close to empty, if there's a Citgo gas station ahead that I can pull into.

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