[Marxism] Chavez Landslide Tops All In US History

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 20 09:25:15 MST 2006

(This good news came to me from Roland Sheppard.)

Chavez Landslide Tops All In US History
by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday, 20 December 2006


Well almost, as explained below. Hugo Chavez Frias' reelection on
December 3 stands out when compared to the greatest landslide
presidential victories in US history. Except for the close race in
1812 and the electoral deadlock in 1800 decided by the House of
Representatives choosing Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr, the very
earliest elections here weren't hardly partisan contests at all as
the Democrat-Republican party of Jefferson and Madison was dominant
and had everything its own way. It was like that through the election
of 1820 when James Monroe ran virtually unopposed winning over 80% of
the vote. A consistent pattern of real competitive elections only
began with the one held in 1824, and from that time to the present
Hugo Chavez's impressive landslide victory beat them all.

The nation's first president, George Washington, had no party
affiliation, ran unopposed twice, and got all the votes. His
"elections" were more like coronations, but Washington wisely chose
to serve as an elected leader and not as a monarch which Federalists
like Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and the nation's first Supreme
Court Chief Justice John Jay preferred and one aligned with the
British monarchy. They also were nationalists believing in a
militarily strong central government with little regard for the
rights of the separate states.

Most of them were dubious democrats as well who believed for the
nation to be stable it should be run by elitists (the way it is
today) separate from what Adams arrogantly called "the rabble." And
John Jay was very explicit about how he felt saying "The people who
own the country ought to run it." Today they do. Adams showed his
disdain for ordinary people (and his opposition) when as president he
signed into law the Patriot Acts (I and II) of his day - the Alien
and Sedition Acts of 1798 to protect the country from dangerous
aliens (today's "terrorists") and that criminalized any criticism of
his administration (the kind George Bush calls traitorous).

Jefferson denounced both laws and called the Sedition Act an
unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right of free
expression. It helped him and his Democrat-Republicans beat Adams in
1800 that led to the decline of the Federalists as a powerful
opposition and their demise as a political party after the war of
1812. It meant that from 1800 - 1820, after Washington's two
unopposed elections, presidential contests were lopsided affairs
(except for the two mentioned above), the "loyal opposition" was
hardly none at all, and the Democrat-Republicans weren't challenged
until the party split into factions and ran against each other in
1824. Then Democrat party candidate Andrew Jackson beat National
Republican John Quincy Adams in 1828. It's only from that period
forward that any real comparison can be made between Hugo Chavez's
impressive landslide on December 3 and presidential contests in the
US. And doing it shows one thing. In all US landslide electoral
victories from then till now, Chavez outdid them all, but you won't
ever hear that reported by the dominant corporate-controlled media.

Earlier, there might not have been a basis for comparison had
Washington chosen to be president for life as the Federalists
preferred. If he'd done it, he could have stayed on by acclamation
and those holding office after him might have done the same. Wisely,
however, he decided eights years was enough and stepped down at the
end of his second term in office setting the precedent of a two-term
limit until Franklin Roosevelt went against tradition running and
winning the presidency four times.

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution ratified in 1951 settled the
issue providing that: "No person shall be elected to the office of
the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office
of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a
term to which some other person was elected President shall be
elected to the office of the President more than once."

The US Constitution specifies that the president and vice-president
be selected by electors chosen by the states. Article Two, Section
One says: "Each state shall appoint, in a Manner as the Legislature
thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number
of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in
the Congress." The electors then meet in their respective states
after the popular vote to choose a president and vice-president.

That's how it's been done since George Washington was first elected
president in 1789 with John Adams his vice-president. The method of
choosing state electors changed later on, but the US system choosing
presidents and vice-presidents by the Electoral College (a term
unmentioned in the Constitution) of all the state electors has
remained to this day, to the distress of many who justifiably believe
it's long past time this antiquated and undemocratic system be
abolished even though it's unimaginable a state's electors would vote
against the majority popular vote in their states - at least up to
now. Until 2000, it was also unimaginable that five members of the US
Supreme Court would annul the popular vote in a presidential election
to choose the candidate they preferred even though he was the loser -
but they did, and the rest is history.

Hugo Chavez Frias' Electoral Victory Majority Greater Than For Any US
President - Since 1820

Amazing but true. On December 3, 2006, the people of Venezuela voted
in what hundreds of independent observers from around the world,
including from the Carter Center in the US, called a free, fair, open
and extremely smooth and well-run electoral process. They chose the
only man they'll entrust with the job as long as he wants it
reelecting Hugo Chavez with a majority 62.87% of the vote with the
highest voter turnout in the country's history at almost 75% of the
electorate. No US president since 1820, when elections here
consistently became real contests, ever matched it or has any US
election ever embraced all the democratic standards all Venezuelans
now enjoy since Hugo Chavez came to office.

The Venezuelan Bolivarian Constitution Hugo Chavez gave his people
states: "All persons have the right to be registered free of charge
with the Civil Registry Office after birth, and to obtain public
documents constituting evidence of the biological identity, in
accordance with law." To see this happened Chavez established an
initiative called Mision Itentidad (Mission Identity) that's now a
mass citizenship and voter registration drive. It's given millions of
Venezuelans full rights of citizenship including the right to vote
for the first time ever.

As glorious and grand a democratic experiment as the US Constitution
was and is, it had and still has lots of flaws including who's
empowered to vote and what authority has the right to decide. It's
the reason through the years many amendments and laws were needed and
enacted to establish mandates for enfranchisement, but even today
precise voting rights qualifications are left for the states to
decide, and many take advantage to strike from their voter rolls
categories of people they decide are unfit or that they unjustly wish
to exclude from the most important of all rights in a democracy no
citizen should have taken away.

It shouldn't be this way as millions in the US have lost the right to
vote for a variety of reasons including for being a convicted felon
or ex-felon in a country with the highest prison population in the
world (greater than China's with four times the population). It
exceeds 2.2 million, increases by about 1000 each week, one in every
32 adults in the country is either imprisoned, on parole or on
probation, half the prison population is black, half are there for
non-violent crimes, half of those are for mostly minor drug-related
offenses, and most of those behind bars shouldn't be there at all if
we had a criminal justice system with equity and justice for all
including many wrongfully convicted because they couldn't afford or
get competent counsel to defend them.

Virtually all citizens in Venezuela have the right to vote under one
national standard and are encouraged to do so under a model
democratic system that's gotten the vast majority of them to actively
participate. In contrast, in the US, elections are especially
fraud-laden today, but in the past many categories of voters were
unjustly denied the franchise including blacks until the 1865 13th
amendment to the Constitution freed them from slavery, the 1870 15th
amendment gave them the right to vote, but it still took until the
passage of the landmark Civil and Voting Rights Acts in the mid-1960s
abolishing the Jim Crow laws in the South before blacks could
exercise that right like others in the country could. Earlier, it
wasn't until the 19th amendment to the Constitution, ratified in
1920, before women got the right to vote they'd been fighting for
over 70 years to get.

Back at the republic's birth, only adult white male property-owners
could vote. It took until 1810 to eliminate the last religious
prerequisite to voting and until 1850 before property ownership and
tax requirements were dropped allowing all adult white males the
franchise. It wasn't until 1913 and the passage of the 17th amendment
that citizen voters could elect senators who up to then were elected
by state legislatures. Native Americans, whose land this was for
thousands of years before the settlers arrived and took it from them,
couldn't vote until the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act granted all
Native peoples the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote
in federal elections. It didn't matter that this was their country,
and it's they who should have had to right to decide what rights the
white settler population had instead of the reverse.

In 1924, the 24th amendment outlawed discrminatory poll taxes in
federal elections, and in 1966 the Supreme Court in Harper v.
Virginia Board of Elections ended poll tax requirements in all
elections for the four remaining southern states still using them
including George Bush's home state of Texas. In 1971, the 26th
amendment set the minimum voting age at 18, and in 1972 the Supreme
Court in Dunn v. Blumstein ruled residency requirements for voting in
state and local elections were unconstitutional and suggested 30 days
was a fair period.

This history shows how unfair laws were and still are in force in a
country calling itself a model democracy. The most fundamental right
of all, underpinning all others in a democratic state, is the right
of every citizen to exercise his or her will at the polls freely and
fairly without obstructive laws or any interference from any source
in the electoral process.

That freedom has been severely compromised today in the US, and
unless that changes, there's no possibility of a free, fair and open
democratic process here for all citizens. That happening is now
almost impossible with more than 80% of the vote now cast and counted
on easily manipulated electronic voting machines with no verifiable
paper trail. The process is secretive and unreliable, privatized in
the hands of large corporations with everything to gain if candidates
they support win, and based on what's now known, that's exactly
what's been happening as seen in the 2000 and 2004 fraud-laden

The Six Greatest Landslide US Presidential Elections Since Contests
Began After 1820

Six US presidential elections stand out especially for the landslide
victories they gave the winners. Hugo Chavez's December 3, 2006
reelection topped them all.

1. In 1920, the first time women could vote in a federal election,
Republican Warren Harding got 60.3% of the vote to beat Democrat
James Cox getting 34.1%. This election was particularly noteworthy as
Socialist Eugene Debs ran for the high office from prison getting
over 900,000 votes. He was sentenced and was serving 10 years by the
Wilson administration for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 that
along with the Sedition Act of 1918 were the Patriot Acts of their
day like the earlier Alien and Sedition Acts were under John Adams.
Debs was found guilty of exercising his constitutional right of free
expression after making an anti-WW I speech in Canton, Ohio. He
served about 2.5 years before Harding commuted the sentence on
Christmas day, 1921.

Harding capitalized on the unpopularity of Woodrow Wilson who took
the country to the war he promised to keep us out of. The economy was
also in recession, the country and Congress were mainly isolationist,
and the main order of business was business and the need to get on
with it and make it healthy again. It turned out to be the start of
the "roaring twenties" that like the 1990s "roared" mainly for the
privileged. It also was a time of scandal and corruption best
remembered by the Teapot Dome affair of 1922 that involved Harding's
Interior Secretary Albert Fall's leasing oil reserve rights on public
land in Wyoming and California without competitive bidding (like the
routine use of no-bid contracts today to favored corporations) and
getting large illegal gifts from the companies in return that
resulted in the crime committed.

Harding was dead (in 1923) and Coolidge was in the White House before
everything came to a head with Fall eventually found guilty, fined
$100,000 and sentenced to a year in prison making him the first ever
presidential cabinet member to serve prison time for offenses while
in office.

2. In 1928, Republican Herbert Hoover defeated Democrat and first
ever Catholic to run for the presidency Al Smith with 58.2% v. 40.8%
for Smith. It wasn't a good year to be a Democrat, especially a
Catholic one at that time. The 1920s were "roaring," including the
stock market (again only for the privileged), and Republicans were
tough to beat as long as, at the macro level, the economy was strong.
Coolidge was president but declined a second term (fortunate for him
as it turned out) and Commerce Secretary and capable bureaucrat
Hoover got the nomination winning big. As things turned out, fate
dealt him a bad hand as the stock market crashed less than a year
into his term, but bad administration and Federal Reserve policy
turned what only should have been a stiff recession for a year or two
into the Great Depression. It swept Republicans from office and
ushered in the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt, who won impressively
in 1932, not one of our big six, but was reelected in 1936 and
included in our select group with the second greatest landslide
victory ever on our list. Number one is after the FDR years.

3. The Great Depression 1930s weren't good years to be Republicans,
and in 1936, Democrat Franklin Roosevelt was reelected overwhelmingly
with 60.8% of the vote to 36.5% for Republican Alf Landon who had no
chance to convince the electorate the New Deal was corrupt and
wasteful when it was helping a lot of desperate people. Roosevelt
asked for and got a mandate from the public to continue his
progressive agenda that included the landmark Social Security Act
(now in jeopardy in the age of George Bush) and other important
measures that included establishing the FDIC, insuring bank deposits,
the SEC, regulating the stock exchanges, and the NLRB with the
passage of the Wagner Act that was the high water mark for labor
rights. It guaranteed labor had the right to bargain collectively on
equal terms with management, something that began eroding badly with
the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 over Harry Truman's veto
that began reversing the hard-won rights gained that now have nearly
vanished entirely in a nation dominated by corporate giants and both
Democrat and Republican parties supporting them including their
union-busting practices.

4. In 1964, Democrat Lyndon Johnson won the greatest landslide
presidential victory on our list, unsurpassed to this day. He got
61.1% of the vote to 38.5% for Republican Barry Goldwater who was
portrayed as a dangerous extremist in a still-remembered TV "Daisy
Girl" campaign ad featuring a little girl picking petals from a daisy
in a field, counting them and then segueing to a countdown and
nuclear explosion. Ironically, the ad only ran once in September that
year on NBC, but it stirred such a controversy all the broadcasters
ran it as a news story giving it far greater prominence than it
otherwise would have gotten.

>From the Great Depression through the 1960s, Republicans had a hard
enough time competing with Democrats (Dwight Eisenhower being the
exception because of his stature as a war hero and the unpopular
Korean war under Harry Truman), and Goldwater made it worse by being
a conservative before his time and a hawkish one advocating the use
of tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam at a time the war was still in
its early stages but would be an act of lunacy any time.

5. In 1972, most people would be surprised to learn (except those
around to remember it) Republican Richard Nixon trounced Democrat
George McGovern getting 60% of the vote to McGovern's 38%. The main
issue was the Vietnam war (that drove Lyndon Johnson from office in
1968), and Nixon managed to convince the public he had a plan to end
it and peace was at hand. McGovern was strongly anti-war, but had to
replace his running mate Thomas Eagleton after it was learned he
hadn't revealed he'd undergone electroshock therapy for depression.

It proved a decisive factor in McGovern's defeat, but oddly as things
turned out, Nixon was popular enough at that time to sweep to a
landslide win only to come a cropper in the Watergate scandal that
began almost innocently in June, 1972, months before the election,
but spiralled out of control in its aftermath along with growing
anger about the war. It drove Richard Nixon from office in disgrace
in August, 1974 and gave the office lawfully under the 25th amendment
to Gerald Ford. It made him the nation's only unelected president up
to the time five Supreme Court justices gave the office to George
Bush violating the law of the land they showed contempt for.

6. In 1984, Republican Ronald Reagan won a decisive victory getting
58.8% of the vote to Democrat Walter Mondale's 40.6%. The "Reagan
revolution" was in full swing, and the president was affable enough
to convince a majority of the electorate his administration's large
increases in military spending, big budget deficits run up to pay for
it, tax cuts mainly for the rich, slashed social spending and
opposition to labor rights were good for the country. Mondale was no
match for him and was unfairly seen as a candidate supporting the
poor and disadvantaged at the expense of the middle class.

In 1980s America, Hugo Chavez might not have stood a chance against
the likes of Ronald Reagan even though Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution
serves all the people while Reagan's ignored and harmed those most in
need including the middle class, mostly helping instead those in the
country needing no help - the rich and powerful, at the beginning of
the nation's second Gilded Age, serving an empowered plutocracy that
reached full fruition with the dominance of the privileged class
under George W. Bush.

One Other Landslide Win for Chavez Unreported

Time Magazine just voted this writer and all others communicating
online their "Person of the Year." In their cover story they asked
who are we, what are we doing, and who has the time and energy for
this? Their answer: "you do. And for seizing the reins of the global
media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for
working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's
Person of the Year for 2006 is you." Strange how underwhelming it
feels at least for two reasons, but it must be stressed we beat the
pros before they're even out of bed in the morning doing one thing
they almost never do - telling the truth communicating real news,
information and honest opinion on the most important world and
national issues affecting everyone and refusing to genuflect to the
country's power establishment.

While Time was honoring the free use of the internet, its importance,
and the millions of ordinary people using it, it's parent company
Time-Warner has for months been part of the corporate cabal trying to
high-pressure the Congress to end internet neutrality and destroy the
freedom the magazine praised so effusively in their disingenuous
annual award just announced. If the cable and telecom giants win
their lobbying effort, the public Time calls "YOU" loses. They want
to be self-regulating, to be able to charge whatever they wish, to
choose wealthier customers and ignore lesser ones, to have a monopoly
on high-speed cable internet so they can take over our private space
and control it including, at their discretion, the content on it
excluding whatever portions of it they don't want in their privatized
space. They want to take what's now free and open and exploit it for
profit, effectively destroying the internet as we now know it.

Time also failed to report they held an online poll for "Person of
the Year" and then ignored the results when they turned out not to
their editors' liking. "Time's Person of the Year is the person or
persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or for
ill, and embodied what was important about the year." It turned out
Hugo Chavez won their poll by a landslide at 35%. Second was Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at 21%. Then came Nancy Pelosi at 12%,
The YouTube Guys 11%, George Bush 8%, Al Gore 8%, Condoleezza Rice 5%
and Kim Jong Il 2%. For some reason, the magazine's December 25 cover
story omitted these results so their readers never learned who won
their honor and rightfully should have been named Time's Person of
the Year. An oversight, likely, in the holiday rush, so it's only
fitting the winner be announced here - in the online space the
magazine rates so highly:

Venezuelan President Hugo is Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Venezuela under Hugo Chavez v. the US Under Republican or DLC
Democrats Little Different From Republicans

The age of social enlightenment in the US, such as it was, lasted
from the election of Franklin Roosevelt through the years of Lyndon
Johnson and began heading south thereafter in the 1970s and ending
with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. For the past generation,
the US has been run for the interests of capital while the standard
of living of ordinary working people, including the middle class fast
eroding, had an unprecedented decline.

It shows in how wide the income disparity is between those at the
economic top and ordinary wage earners. When Reagan was elected in
1980, average corporate CEO earnings were 42 times the average
working person. The spread widened to 85 times in 1990 and
skyrocketed to 431 times in 2004 as average top executive pay rose to
about $14 million a year after the election of George Bush plus
enormous benefits adding to that total, including huge ones at
retirement, compared to working Americans who now earn less, adjusted
for inflation, than they did 30 years ago.

This disparity is highlighted in tax data released by the IRS showing
overall income in the country rose 27% adjusted for inflation from
1979 to 2004, but it all went to the top. The bottom 60% of Americans
(earning less than $38,761 in 2004) made less than 95% of what they
did in 1979. The 20% above them earned 2% more in 2004 than in 1979,
inflation adjusted, and only the top 5% had significant gains earning
53% more in 2004 than in 1979. The largest gains of all went to the
top 1% as expected - one-third of the entire increase in national
income that translates to about 350% more in inflation adjusted
dollars in 2004 than in 1979.

It all means since Ronald Reagan entered office, his administration
and those that followed him, including Democrat Bill Clinton's,
engineered a massive transfer of wealth from ordinary working people
to the top income earners in the country while, at the same time,
slashing social benefits making it much harder for most people to pay
for essential services at much higher prices with the lower
inflation-adjusted levels of income they now receive.

Especially hard hit are the 20% of workers on the bottom earning
poverty-level wages - below $11,166 a year. The IRS definition of a
taxpayer is either an individual or married couple meaning the 26
million poorest taxpayers are the equivalent of about 48 million
adults plus 12 million dependent children totaling around 60 million
Americans in the richest country in the world with incomes of about
$7 a day (per capita) in a state of extreme destitution with the
official poverty line in 2004 being $27 a day for a single adult
below retirement age and $42 a day for a household with one child.
The data excludes all public assistance like food stamps, medicaid
benefits and earned-income tax credits, but since the Clinton
administration's "welfare reform" Personal Responsibility and Work
Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) ended welfare
payments after five years, that loss is much greater for the needy
than the benefits remaining also being reduced.

It's hardly a testimony to the notion of "free market" capitalism
under the Reagan revolution, the first Bush presidency following it,
and eight years under Bill Clinton governing by Democratic Leadership
Council (DLC) "centrist" principles eschewing the enlightened
progressive party tradition, selling out instead, like Republicans,
to the interests of wealth and power at the expense of ordinary
people left far behind.

It all seemed like a warm-up leading to the election of George W.
Bush in 2000 characterized by outrageous levels of handouts to the
rich in the form of huge tax cuts for top earners and giant
corporations; larger than ever corporate subsidies (aka socialism for
big corporations) at taxpayer expense; and endless wars and all the
bounty from them to well-connected corporate allies, some literally
getting a license to steal, that never had it so good but getting it
at the public's expense this president shows contempt for and is
forced to follow the rules of law-of-the-jungle "free market"

Today, under Republican or Democrat rule, the country is run by and
for a rich aristocracy, in a rigidly structured class society
promoting inequality and destroying the founding principles of the
nation's Framers. In the last generation, the great majority of
ordinary working people have been abandoned and are sinking lower in
their losing efforts to make ends meet and survive in a heartless
society caring only about the interests of capital. This writer will
explore this issue more fully in a year-end review and outlook
article due out shortly.

A Different Enlightened Way in Venezuela Under Hugo Chavez

Things are much different in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez that showed
up in the overwhelming electoral endorsement he got from his people
on December 3. Until he was first elected in December, 1998 taking
office in February, 1999, the country was run by and for rich
oligarchs, in league with their counterpart dominant interests in
Washington and corporate America. They ignored the needs of ordinary
people that left most of them in a state of desperate poverty. Hugo
Chavez pledged to his people he'd ameliorate their condition and did
it successfully for the past eight years, to the great consternation
of the country's aristocracy who want the nation's wealth for
themselves and their US allies.

Following the crippling US and Venezuelan ruling class-instigated
2002 - 03 oil strike and destabilizing effects of their short-lived
coup deposing him for two days in April, 2002, Hugo Chavez's
enlightened Bolivarian economic and social programs cut the level of
poverty nearly in half from around 62% to where it is today at about
one-third of the population, a dramatic improvement unmatched
anywhere in Latin America or likely anywhere in the world. Along with
that improvement are the essential social benefits now made available
to everyone in the country by law, discussed below.

The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was created
democratically by popular referendum and adopted in December, 1999.
It established a model humanistic social democracy providing checks
and balances in the nation's five branches of government instead of
the usual three in countries like the US where currently all branches
operate unchecked in lockstep under the Bush administration and will
change little when the DLC Democrat-controlled 110th Congress
convenes in January.

In Venezuela, in addition to the executive, legislative and judicial
branches, the country also has independent electoral and
prosecutorial ones. Chavez controls the executive branch, and his
supporters control the four others because they democratically won a
ruling majority in the legislature. They in the National Assembly
have the authority to make appointments to the other three branches
independent of the executive while Hugo Chavez has no authority to
appoint to or remove members from the other four branches or have any
power to dictate what they do. Today in the US, George Bush has a
virtual stranglehold over all three government branches that mostly
rubber stamp his agenda without opposition including the most
outrageous and controversial domestic and foreign policy parts of it.

In Venezuela, the Constitution also stipulates that all the people
are assured political, economic and social justice under a system of
participatory democracy guaranteeing everyone a legal right to
essential social services and the right to participate in how the
country is run. The services include free high quality health and
dental care as a "fundamental social right
and....responsibility....of the state," housing assistance, improved
pensions, food assistance for the needy, job training to provide
skills for future employment, free education to the highest level
that eliminated illiteracy and much more including the full rights of
citizenship for everyone including the right to vote in free, fair
and open democratic elections, now a model for the world and make a
sham of the fraud-laden ones in the US.

While the ruling authority in Washington systematically destroyed
democracy and deprived people most in need of essential social
services, Hugo Chavez built a model democracy growing stronger by
enhancing already established socially enlightened policies further
using the nation's oil revenue to do it. Much in the country is
happening from below, and it's planned that way by the government in
Caracas. Community organizing in councils has been promoted that
includes all sorts of committees around the country involved in urban
land development and improvement, health, the creation of over
100,000 cooperatives outside of state or private control, and the
revitalization of hundreds of bankrupt businesses and factories put
under worker control.

In addition, Hugo Chavez aggressively pursued a policy of putting
underutilized land to use by redistributing more than two million
hectares of it to over 130,000 families in a country with the richest
5% of landowners controlling 75% of the land, the great majority of
rural Venezuelans having little or none of it, and Chavez wanting to
change that imbalance and do it fairly. He also established over
5,000 Urban Land Committees representing almost 20% of the population
(CTUs). The law governing them stipulates Venezuelans who live in
homes they built on occupied land may petition the government for
title to it to be able legally to own the land they live on. This is
in addition to the government's goal to build thousands of new and
free public housing units for the poor without homes.

These are the kinds of things going on in Venezuela in that country's
first ever age of enlightenment, but it's only a beginning. Chavez
wants to expand existing programs and advance his Bolivarian Project
to the next level implementing his vision of a social democracy in
the 21st century. His landslide electoral victory now gives him a
mandate to do it, and during the pre-election campaign in September
announced he wanted to move ahead in 2007 with the formation of a
single united political party of the Bolivarian Revolution to further
"consolidate and strengthen" the Bolivarian spirit.

Post-election in mid-December, Chavez addressed his followers and
party members at a celebratory gathering at the Teresa Carrena
theater repeating his September announcement calling for the
establishment of a "unique (or unity) party" to replace his Movement
for the Fifth Republic Party (MVR) that brought him to power in 1998,
has been his party until now and will end in January. Chavez
surprisingly announced the MVR is history and will be replaced by a
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) hoping to include the MVR
and all its coalition partners that wish to join. He wants it to be a
peoples' party rooted in the country's communities created to win the
Battle of Ideas that will move Venezuela ahead to become a fully
developed social or socialist democracy for all the people.

Chavez has enormous grassroots support for his vision but faces
daunting obstacles as well, not the least of which is a hostile
administration in Washington committed to derailing his efforts and
removing him from office by whatever means it chooses to use next in
another attempt sure to come at some point.

He'll also likely get little help from the Democrat 110th Congress
arriving in January with the likes of newly empowered House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi, a member of the US aristocracy, shamelessly calling
Chavez an "everyday thug" and the US corporate-controlled media
spewing the party line by relentlessly attacking him with tirades of
venomous agitprop at times strong enough to make some old-line Soviet
era aparachiks blush calling him an autocrat, a dictator, another
Hitler and the greatest threat to US interests in the region in
decades. It's the same kind of demonizing Chavez undergoes at home by
the dominant corporate media that includes the country's two largest
dailies, El Universal and El National, and the three main TV networks
- Venevision (owned by arch-Chavez enemy and 2002 coup plotter
billionaire Gustavo Cisneros), Radio Caracas Television and

The only charge against Chavez that's credible, for quite another
reason, is that he's indeed the greatest of all threats the US and
Venezuelan oligarchs face - a good example spreading slowly through
the region inspiring people throughout Latin America to want the same
kinds of social benefits and democratic rights Venezuelans now enjoy.
The powerful interests of capital in Washington, Venezuela and
throughout the region are determined to stop him, but the momentum in
Latin America is with Chavez if it can advance it. He has the power
of the people behind him and a growing alliance of populist or
moderate leaders emerging in Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay,
Ecuador, Nicaragua, Chile and for almost half a century in Cuba
either wanting an end to savage capitalism, Washington-style, or a
significant softening of it, along with the old-style military-backed
entrenched elitism that denied long-oppressed people all the rights
they now enjoy or are beginning to demand.

The people in the region yearning for freedom and demanding
governments address their rights and needs are in solidarity with
him, a modern-day Bolivar, a hero and symbol of hope that they, too,
may one day get the equity and justice they deserve like the people
of Venezuela have, if they can keep it, and help Hugo Chavez fulfill
his vision to take it to the next level.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at

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