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This may be the longest issue of Nygaard Notes I’ve ever published. Much to my surprise, I’ve been obsessed with researching the legacy of Hugo Chávez and the fascinating story of his Venezuela, and I think there are important lessons to be learned here.
Here’s the main reason I’m spending so much energy on this subject: I think this story illustrates, better than any story in recent memory, how Propaganda really works. In this case, it’s true that Hugo Chávez was hated by many powerful people in the United States, and that this hatred was reflected in virtually every media report ever published in this country since the time that Hugo Chávez came to anyone’s attention. But virtually no one, outside of the planning and military circles that I quote extensively this week, has been willing or able to honestly state the real reason for their antipathy toward this man.
When Barack Obama first ran for President, his call for Hope and Change resonated with millions in this country. Dare we hope that our unfair and unequal system could actually be “changed”? As it turned out, it was mostly words, little change seems to be on the horizon, and the net effect of his presidency, I fear, may be a net increase in cynicism and hopelessness. I hope I’m wrong.
Hugo Chávez, on the other hand, spoke of hope and change and—although we’ll have to wait for history to show us how much change his efforts will ultimately yield—he indisputably gave hope to millions of people in Latin America. And my hope is that this issue of Nygaard Notes will show that he put his money where his mouth was, using the power of oil to finance real efforts at regional integration. Those efforts were intended to, as one analyst quoted in this issue put it, “work toward the emergence of a multipolar world in which U.S. hegemony is checked.” The result was, I believe, a net decrease in cynicism and an increase in hope among the people of countries from Mexico to Brazil and everywhere in between.
If that’s true, and the legacy of Hugo Chávez is, overall, a positive one, then an obvious question presents itself: Why did U.S. leaders, and the media who take their cues from those leaders, come to hate him so?
One explanation might be that U.S. leaders are ignorant or confused. That is, maybe they really believe that he was incompetent, a vain dictator, a charismatic madman. Maybe, but I doubt it.
No, the explanation for the intense hatred of Hugo Chávez lies elsewhere. This issue of Nygaard Notes attempts to show the real reasons for the hatred, and the complex Propaganda that is aimed at obscuring those reasons.