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      Comandante Chavez remembered as an antiwar,
      anti-imperialist and a revolutionary leader

      By Andrew Barry

      As an antiwar and socialist organizer, it is useful to make a couple of reflections on the life of Comandante Hugo Chávez as we approach the 10th anniversary of his passing. When Chávez passed away in 2013, it was almost ten years after the U.S. invasion and war on Iraq began in March 2003. At that time, I did not know much about what was happening in Venezuela. But, a few years later, I came to know about Venezuela and who Hugo Chávez was, what he was representing and what he was standing for. I found out he was standing for a better world, a world without imperial and colonial domination from the Western imperialist powers, especially the United States.

      Looking back at what Hugo Chávez said, and what he did, he was very reflective of what every antiwar and anti-imperialist activist in the world demands. When we look back at war in Afghanistan in the months after the September 11th, 2001, attacks in the United States, we know that the United States began an inhumane, indiscriminate bombing campaign, murdering thousands of civilians in Afghanistan. The U.S. imperialists had started a new era of war and occupation that continues today. And it was Hugo Chávez immediately who stood up and said, this is wrong. You cannot do this. You cannot kill civilians in Afghanistan for this. And it was in an atmosphere where here in Canada, in North America, that kind of criticism was unheard of. But Hugo Chávez stood up for what was right and what was moral. It was such a brave and important thing that, looking back on history, there were very few voices saying that at the time. And he was the president of a country, President of Venezuela.

      Two years later, he was saying the same thing against the U.S. War in Iraq, condemning that brutal invasion and occupation that killed over 2 million people. Hugo Chávez went to Port au Prince in Haiti with people in Haiti who were against the U.S./Canada/France/UN occupation of Haiti in 2004. He went with in solidarity with the poor people to Port au Prince, and he was treated so well by people in Haiti. President Chávez condemned the coup in Honduras in 2009, immediately recognizing it for what it was and not recognizing the coup regime installed by the United States on the people of Honduras.

      Hugo Chávez has been an inspiration for the antiwar movement around the world and for poor and oppressed people around the world. So much so, that it was vital for the United States to try to do what they could to take him out. But I think it's very important that what Chávez was able to do was to lay the groundwork for people in Venezuela to take over the leadership. And I think what President Nicolas Maduro, Diosdado Cabello, and other leaders in Venezuela have done under such brutal sanctions and blockade imposed by the United States is something that is very historically significant.

      Venezuela has survived an all-out economic war. Up to 40,000 people were killed in one year alone due to the sanctions that the United States has imposed on Venezuela. But people in Venezuela have been able to stand up, and continue to fight for their sovereignty, for their independence.

      It's very significant that if Venezuela did fall during those years, I think we would have seen the fall of Bolivia. I think we would not have seen such a movement of progress that's happening across Latin America, in places like Colombia and Mexico, where you have progressive governments. I think that the United States would have had such a huge victory if they were able to topple Venezuela. And it was because of the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro, Diosdado Cabello, and others that Venezuela has been able to continue on and to provide an example for humanity.

      The United States has tried to sabotage Venezuela everywhere possible, but there are still voices of resistance throughout the world that are supporting the revolutionary process that began under President Hugo Chávez and is continuing under President Nicolas Maduro. The United States has done everything in its power to stop, sabotage and slow it down. And the kidnapping of Alex Saab is the latest example of that. People in Venezuela and the solidarity movement around the world will continue to fight and continue to support the legacy of Comandante Chávez and the Venezuelan process. Free Alex Saab! Viva Chávez!

      Andrew Barry is a long-time socialist organizer and a labour union member in Vancouver. He is the coordinator of publicity, distribution, and subscriptions for the Fire This Time newspaper.

      Follow Andrew on twitter: @AndrewBarry

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