Friday, March 08, 2013

Farewell Commandante Hugo Chavez Frias

Farewell Commandante Hugo Chavez Frias
By The Post
Fri 08 Mar. 2013, 11:40 CAT

There are moments in history that require a comment, even if it is as brief as Julius Caesar's Alea jacta est (The die is cast), when he crossed the Rubicon. It had to be crossed on Tuesday when Venezuelan Vice-President Nicholas Maduro announced the death of Commandante Hugo Chavez Frias.

Human cognition dictates that those who stand tall because they are carried aloft by the masses they represent and lead, will, in the many instances be seen as merely outstanding individuals, leaving the loving hands of the millions that serve as their pedestal out of sight and out of mind.

When the news was announced that at last Commandante Chavez had succumbed to the icy hand of death, the people he loved, the people who loved him, whose bare hands served as his pedestal while he lived, shed tears of grief that one who had so epitomised their revolutionary dream, their Bolivarian Revolution had left, never to return.

They kissed the images of his face that had been captured by a photographer who only went on a routine mission to take ordinary pictures for ordinary purposes. As he did his work, the photographer would not have known that one day wherever his photograph of the face of Commandande Chavez was seen, the people would approach and interact with it as though it were a holy shrine.

For these masses, the words of the poet of an earlier struggle, Berthold Brecht - "There is no greater crime than leaving" - would have been suffused with very deep meaning because they knew that the very life of their own heroic son, Commandande Chavez, who only left because death dictated that he must leave, confirmed the truth that there was no greater crime than living.
"There is no greater crime than leaving.

In friends, what do you count on? Not on what they do
You can never tell what they will do. Not on what they are.

May change. Only on this: their not leaving.
He who cannot leave cannot stay. He who has a pass
In his pocket - will he stay when the attack begins?

He will not stay.
Before we go into battle I must know: have you a pass
In your coat pocket? Is a plane waiting for you behind the battlefield?
How many defeats do you want to survive?
Can I send you away?

Well, then, let's not go into battle."
Commandante Chavez was ready to survive many defeats. He would never allow himself to be sent away from his people. He had no pass in his pocket to take him away from the battlefield. And because he could not leave, he stayed. And the people of Venezuela deeply grieve the forced departure of Commandante Chavez because with him at the helm, they knew that they could survive many defeats, with none willing to commit the crime of abandoning his or her comrades during a battle.

But of course there are others in the world that would not shed the tears that Venezuelans are shedding at the loss of such a titan among their ranks. Perhaps these saw Commandante Chavez merely as an individual of immense influence who could, like the kings of the old, decree what must be, knowing that it would be.
The masses for whom Commandante Chavez spoke thus disappeared from the eyes of these, who thought these masses were but mere hordes who could be commanded to do anything, provided the commander was such a hero of these masses as was Commandante Chavez.

About this, a world of heroes and heroines without ordinary people would not even so much as cook the food these shinning stars would eat, Brecht composed the famous poem - Questions from a Worker who Reads.

"Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
In the books you find the names of kings.

Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?
And Babylon, many times demolished
Who raised it up so many times? In what houses
Of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished
Did the masons go? Great Rome

Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song
Only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Antlantis
The night the ocean engulfed it
The drowning still bawled for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.

Was he alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Did he not have a cook with him?
Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors?"

Many of those who speak ill of Commandante Chavez and have shed no tear at his departure, would speak of him in a manner that would evoke similar questions from a worker who reads.

The worker who reads would ask such questions because the detractors of Commandante Chavez, those who would deny the reality of the rich and indelible heritage of principled and courageous struggle he left the Venezuelan people and all those who fight for a more just, fair and humane world everywhere else in the world, have sought to pretend that we could, as in the case of Julius Caesar, speak of Commandante Chavez without speaking about his cook.

They do this because they do not want the story to be told about the poor conditions of life under which the poor people of Venezuela and those of Latin America and the Caribbean in general were subjected to. Commandante Chavez, a product of the natural world of creation, because Commandante Chavez, the product and exemplar of the struggle for justice because the poor people of his country and his continent and indeed of the whole world were condemned to inhuman conditions.

On Tuesday, a man died who throughout his life was an example of courage, coherence and dedication.

The loss of Commandante Chavez, as a political person, as a revolutionary, as a socialist, is of great significance. Our reading of this tragedy is that it affects not only Venezuela, Latin America and the Caribbean, but the whole world and that stories of the people's revolutions and leaders are being lost.

It is inconceivable that Commandante Chavez could have lived in another place, in another age, if not this one, this epoch. He had an enormous moral and political stature which cannot be claimed only by Venezuelans. It belongs to us more widely. He belonged to this period, a certain period of struggle and politics, of which we are also a part. As a political person, a man who so deeply participated in our contemporary history, his contribution was so large that his loss has to be perceived as not only of Venezuelans, but as a loss to all humanity.

We were stunned and could barely believe he was gone. How could it be true that this great man has left us when our poor world, the Third World, and indeed Venezuela itself still need men of his stature?

Commandante Chavez has left the world with a grand legacy of words and deeds. His personal example and his teachings, his faith and firmness, his sincerity and cordiality will linger, always bringing benefit to all who learn from his life.

We think the Bolivarian Revolution that Commandante Chavez led has given rise to a galaxy of wonderful personalities in Venezuela and Latin America in general.

Commandante Chavez was outstanding in his grasp of big ideas and big developments, by his vision of the future and at the same time understanding the intricate problems of the ongoing process. He has left a formidable legacy. He will always be a symbol of commitment and dedication in the struggle to achieve a better life for our poor people. Commandante Chavez did not shirk from taking tough decisions but he was always very sensitive to the real needs of the most deprived.

Commandante Chavez was a fighter, an unforgettable man, full of humour, valour in thought and display. He was a heart to heart, flesh and blood revolutionary, socialist, Christian.

Commandante Chavez was a true human being for our world. A challenge to be humane. With him one cherished to be human.
We cannot minimise the loss and pretend that all is as before. We are very much worse off without Commandante Chavez. We say that no one is indispensable. But we only had one Commandante Chavez. We won't have another.

The greatest tribute we could pay him is to live and struggle as he did, with warmth and kindness, with great integrity, with courage, with a simple unaffected humility. We hope the Venezuelan people and all of us will be able to live up to his legacy.

We consider it an honour to have been invited by his government to monitor last October's elections, which he won. It gave us an opportunity to see him in action, to hear his words and see his deeds.
Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

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