Venezuela Opposition won’t win

So says Anthropologist John Sorrillo, who said that prior to the late President Chavez taking leadership in Venezuela, 14 years ago, that oil rich country’s poor people ate dog chow as they “could not even get the crumbs of the bread to eat.”

Sorrillo, a Venezuelan-born who has called Trinidad his home for the past 30 years, hailed Chavez as a great leader whose ideologies came from liberator Simon Bolivar. Describing himself as a ‘Chavista’ (a die-hard supporter of Chavez), the anthropologist praised the leader for transforming the country and creating programmes to benefit the people.

Saying the people lost a hero, Chavez’ love for the masses was reflected at his funeral last Friday with thousands of people attending.

Although he was loved by many, Sorillo said, Chavez was also hated. Some have even labelled the popular leader a dictator, but Sorrillo dismissed such terms as propaganda. “It is very easy to criticise someone. To judge Chavez, we have to understand the history of Venezuela. Do these people who criticise Chavez highlight why he came into power? Do they highlight what used to happen before Chavez? Have they analysed all the oppressions Venezuela had under the previous government?” Sorrillo asked.

Growing up in Venezuela, Sorrillo recalled that there were consequences to person who openly criticised the government of the day. He charged that then governments have used violent tactics against the University of Central Venezuela, his alma mater, many times especially when students protested against the government of the day.

For one year there were no classes at the university back in the 1970s, he added. “Why do they not explain why there were so much poverty in Venezuela, a country so rich in oil?

In the 1970s, Venezuela had an income of more than US$270 billion from oil. There was rampant corruption, but Chavez changed that,” Sorrillo said. Referring to Venezuela’s history he explained that Chavez first came to the forefront because of the Caracazo crises in 1989 when then President Carlos Andr?s P?rez tried to impose certain measures. This, Sorrillo said, caused a revolt and the crises was tough. Chavez, Sorrillo added, assumed responsibility for an attempted coup in 1992 telling the nation on national television that it was “por ahora” (for now).

“Those two words were a hope for the popular masses. I remember children dressing as “chavistos” ( little Chavez). He went to jail for over two years. He brought power to the people and this is something the Opposition do not like to speak about. They do not like to talk about that aspect of history,” Sorrillo said.

Chavez treated the people of Venezuela, Latin America and even the Caribbean great and was instrumental in creating several oragisations and programmes. Two of such are the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA) and PetroCaribe.

Sorrillo is of the view that Trinidad and Tobago can benefit significantly if it joins ALBA and PetroCaribe.

“Transportation is costly and Venezuela is a close neighbour. If TT joins ALBA, children and also persons with cataract can utilise the benefit of ALBA for free operations. Many countries from the English-speaking Caribbean have already joined with ALBA,” Sorrillo said.

Saying that although TT and Venezuela has a 50-year history of close diplomatic relations, he has noticed that of late, there has not been “much closeness” between both countries. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar joined with dozens of world leaders who attended last Friday’s State funeral for Chavez at a military museum.

Reading from a book entitled El Encuentro, Sorrillo added that Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution is very clear as what would happen to Venezuela after Chavez. With a smile, Sorrillo said: “Chavez vive, la lucha sigue!” ( Chavez lives, the fight continues).


"Venezuela Opposition won’t win"

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