NY Times: Starting New Term, Chávez Defends Recent Moves

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 10 — President Hugo Chávez was sworn in to a new six-year term at a ceremony here today, calling Jesus Christ “the greatest socialist in history” and pledging to speed Venezuela’s metamorphosis into a socialist state.

Mr. Chávez defended his decision this week to nationalize companies in the telecommunications and electricity industries, and called for greater government control over natural gas projects. He also renewed his request for decree powers from Congress, claiming that a “revolutionary law of laws” would allow him to hasten the construction of socialism.

“Fatherland! Socialism or death — I swear it!” Mr. Chávez shouted as he was sworn in and given the presidential sash and a golden key to the tomb here in Caracas where the remains of Simón Bolívar, the South American liberation leader, are interred.

Venezuelans re-elected Mr. Chávez last month by a wide margin. Since then, he has moved swiftly to collect his varied supporters into a single Socialist party. He has also called for a retooling of Venezuela’s economy by starting the nationalization of key industries, by abolishing the independence of the central bank and by rewriting the commercial code. . .

Chavez I think is one of the most fascinating political figures today, mostly because he is mixing the revolutionary ideas of Jesus Christ with the Marxist ideas of class struggle. (and I wholeheartedly agree with his belief that Jesus was the greatest socialist in history).

I don’t agree with Chavez on all points though (I think he is unnecessarily combative and sometimes moves in an undemocratic direction out of his desire to move the revolution quicker), but the general ideas of his revolutionary movement are very good, that the PEOPLE should own the national resources of their country and that the PEOPLE of the Venezuela should control their own destiny and not be the lapdog of the American corporate-imperial system of global dominance.

It is sad though that Mexico hasn’t gone the same direction. I’ve talked to several Mexican folks and have read the reports online, and I do believe that the leftist did in fact win the last Presidential election, but it was stolen by the powers that be. (It would not surprise me at all to learn someday that the US caused this to happen) As a result, Mexico seems to be moving in a more regressive direction now and is likely to face even further domination by the US.