Chávez and the 21st Century Socialism

Posted on November 19, 2020


Sammy Eppel correspondent
Caracas, Venezuela
September 13, 2006

There is a good reason to write again about Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. He has become a familiar feature in the international news, traveling to many corners of the world, offering money to many rulers, lambasting the U.S. hegemony, and crusading against imperialism. He conveys an image of a leader who wants, practically single handedly, to defeat the U.S. and eliminate the capitalist system, i.e. to accomplish what even Lenin or Stalin could not bring about. At the same time, he projects himself as a Messiah who will bring prosperity and happiness to the world by promoting 21st century socialism. His administration has never published any specific blueprint of how this socialism will really look. It proves that charismatic leaders are neither rational nor analytical. Their discourse appeals to emotions, combined with mythical historical events. This makes them unpredictable, as they often do not act pragmatically. Being led by convictions, or dogmas, is a very dangerous path to take. Real Socialism, as practiced in the 20th century in the U.S.S.R., China, and other East European countries, has proven to be a failure. In March 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, talking of sub-standard workmanship in the Soviet Union, said, “Only socialism would put up with it for so long. Capitalism would have gone bankrupt years ago.” The basic flaw of Marxism is that Karl Marx founded his economics not in the real world but on the teachings of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. They had espoused a labor theory of value, which holds that products exchange roughly in proportion to the labor costs incurred in producing them. Marx worked out all the logical implications of this theory and added to it “the theory of surplus value,” which rests on the axiom that human labor alone creates all value and hence constitutes the sole source of profits Investigating the nature of Marxism, I concluded that it is a theory, an ideology and a political movement wrapped together. It’s a culture, in the anthropological sense, a whole universe of beliefs, symbols, values, institutions, formal and informal powers, conduct norms, speech patterns, conscious and subconscious habits, similar to any religious movement. It is self-creating and self-referencing, incapable of any understanding except on its own dogmatic terms; it does not admit a reality distant from its own horizon, or a veracity criteria above its own proclaimed goals. And that is the reason why it is hard to confront it; it is like attempting to change a person’s basic values.

The Venezuelan government expresses its determination to impose a still vaguely framed socialist system, ignoring historical facts of previously failed schemes in the world to reach promised objectives of a better life, and the end of exploitation. I wonder if one cannot call exploitation the fact that the average salary in Cuba is about $14 a month (against $14 an hour in Western Europe, or the U.S.) This ideological blindness will come with a high price to the Venezuelan people, since there is no way to reach material benefits with the so-called endogenous development (meaning derived internally), as promoted by the regime, or a beneficial educational standard by using ideologized education.

It seems that the difference between the 21st century socialism that Chávez wants to establish in the next few years, and 20th century Communism/Leninism/Stalinism/Maoism exists merely in semantics. The state redefines the property rights, the individual loses his individual rights, and the bases for wealth creation are taken over by the state that is supposed to take care of the well-being of the collective. Chávez did not follow the Cuban path, knowing that there is a great majority of Venezuelans who cherish private ownership. Instead, he is taking a gradual approach, leading to people’s numbness, so that they get imperceptibly used to those measures. This includes periodical trial balloons to find out what the reaction will be, the way anesthesia works. A recent example is the decree of the mayor of Caracas, expropriating two golf courses. Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Chávez’s government “does not share the decision adopted by the mayor” and reiterated the official position, according to which private property is not a sacred right. In the written declaration, he dismissed a possible intervention of the National Executive and pointed out that the competent courts, “at the request of parts,” will rule on the legality of the published decrees. However, Chávez’s intention to continue his revolutionary process in a less and less disguisable form and with more and more menacing decisions renders the process of collective numbness more expensive to maintain. Why more expensive? Because he has to spend more money to keep his followers happy.

Therefore, Chavez’s 21st century socialism appears to be nothing more than a militaristic Castro-communist petrodollar-financed project. Venezuela lives under a kind of militarism, where the forms of democratic legality are maintained, but at the same time, the military keep the main levers of the power. The regime’s main objective is to foster an exacerbated centralization of the government, limit private property, encourage governmental intervention in the productive apparatus, substitute private enterprise for non-political transnational companies, destroy all former institutions, institute an educational program based on leftist ideology, decree laws that criminalize dissidence, create a sycophant society that can only feed from the government, and destroy any vestiges of freedom of expression that still exist. As for the Cuban regime, it is really a totally nonproductive system that has been able to survive for decades only by means of an enormous infusion of money and war materiel from the U.S.S.R., and now through Venezuelan charity.

The government claims that it is distributing oil wealth fairly through missions and cooperatives. However, this same scheme was used through the “emergency plans” by past governments. All those programs have been a failure in the long run, because they distribute easily acquired oil income, instead of producing new wealth. Oil money should be invested in economic development.

I would like to quote several passages from a very long statement passed at the World Congress of the International Tendency in Barcelona, in August 2006:

“A real socialist planned economy has nothing in common with the bureaucratic totalitarian state that existed in Stalinist Russia. It is based on the democratic participation and control of the economy at all levels by the working people themselves, including the scientists, engineers, agronomists, planners, architects, and economists. [Has it not been claimed for 70 years that this was achieved in the U.S.S.R., Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, and Cuba?] Freed from the dictatorship of private profit, the economy will expand at an unprecedented rate. Unemployment would disappear overnight and the basis would be laid for a general increase in living standards. As the economy expands and the conditions of the masses improve, it will be possible to bring about a general reduction in working hours without prejudicing productivity … In a socialist planned economy, the generalized application of new technology will lead to a reduction in working hours, which is the prior condition for the participation of the masses in the running of industry and the state and in art, science, and culture. This, and no other, is the real material basis upon which socialism of the 21st century will be built.” [How come this extraordinary bonanza has not yet happened in communist countries worldwide? Or, do we have to wait another 70 years?]

“… A revolution that speaks in the name of Simon Bolivar must fight to carry out Bolivar’s program — the revolutionary unification of Latin America. But under modern conditions, this can only be realized through a Socialist Federation of Latin America. An appeal should be made to the peoples of Latin America and the world to follow Venezuela’s revolutionary road … In the final analysis, the future of the Bolivarian Revolution will be determined by the degree to which it spreads to the rest of Latin America and beyond. That idea was understood by Che Guevara, when he said that the Cuban Revolution could only be saved by creating “one, two, three, many Vietnams” … If the Bolivarian revolution is to succeed, it must spread to other countries, starting with a Socialist Federation of Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia.”

According to the Leninist gospel, the condescending press would recreate the fiction of a satisfied society. There would not be mothers or spouses crying for their dead sons or husbands and begging for justice. Destitute people would not exist, nor would the unemployed request jobs. All that would disappear, not because the government would take care of these problems, but through the magic of the new information system. The truth will not be true, while the lie will reproduce until completely changing the perception of the reality. There will not be a word about deaths caused by crimes; news about robberies will not be relevant enough to inform the public. The new press, integrated by “patriotic” journalists, will parrot what the Ministry of Information feeds them.

One has to read government sources to glean the real meaning of the 21st century socialism. For example, carried this text on Aug. 12:

We must transcend the capitalist model, and this is only possible through the cooperatives. It’s necessary to pay special attention to them within the strategy of the New Productive Model and the New Economic System that have already been introduced in the country. We have to stop granting contracts to private companies, or to the contractors disguised as cooperatives. Those who don’t follow this are opposing the New Productive Model, proposed by the nation, and indirectly incur in treason to the Bolivarian Revolution. The capitalist economic model is inviable. It’s in the Bolivarian Constitution, where the most important characteristics of the Social Economic Model can be found, the Humanistic Economy, the Egalitarian Economy, all of which are represented by the Cooperatives.

Chávez said on Aug. 10 that “The private property must be subjected to the social function … We are referring here to the collective property, instituting the change of the property models toward socialism, principally by the new undertakings that we are conceiving, that we are setting to motion.

At an election rally in Maracaibo on Sep. 6, Chávez said that to be a revolutionary one needs to reject the materialistic ambition of money. He talked about the revolutionary democracy that “has just begun,” adding that the communal councils are an example of it. The economic line of the socialist productive model is the one that will be founded on “new relations of production, based on new models of property and new objectives of production.” He also mentioned “the socialist economy that generates equality, and produces in order to distribute national income fairly.”

It is interesting that Hans Dietrich, a Marxist theoretician, who often serves as Chávez’s adviser, has observed that Venezuela is in the declarative phase of the 21st century socialism, but the systemic conditions for a socialist system have not been laid out.

“The first condition, for example, is to change the accounting system of the companies toward the value, toward the use of time, pushing back the idea of price, the latter being the key element of the market economy. This has not been done. Socialism with cooperatives with properties of the state is confused, all those are slight knowledge that are in the past, which they do not obtain anything today. A new economy is not based only on the accounting of the value and the democratic participation, but it also needs to change the profile of the production and the consumption, to adapt itself to the ecological point of view of the consumption pattern. Any society in the future, including capitalist, would have to make substantial changes in the consumption profile, and I believe that socialism is going to have a completely different form,” concludes Dietrich.

Let us examine how communist regimes fared in the 20th century. In the last 70 years, there have existed three major communist models:

The Soviet Model meant forced collectivization of land and other means of production. When Stalin, in 1952, formulated his first version of “marketized” discipline — according to which “labor power” would be “compensated for” with “profitably produced consumer commodities” for its conformity to such discipline — much of what he had decreed was theoretically quite unfounded and had to remain in the realm of fantasy. For the Soviet system could not operate on the basis of commodity production and circulation, under the law of value, above all for the simple reason that it did not have a proper market, and least of all a labor market. Many things can be regulated in an economy with tolerable reliability with the help of a pseudo-market, which in fact did exist in the Soviet Union. But this is certainly not the case where the allocation and firm control of labor power are concerned. Even Khrushchev resisted the temptation of extending the changes inspired by Stalin into that dangerous field. Only under Gorbachev was the critical step taken for the establishment of a fully-fledged labor market, bringing with it catastrophic consequences for the Soviet economy and society at large, instead of fulfilling the totally unrealistic expectations of the policymakers. Gorbachev has concluded that the Leninist/Stalinist Model, in spite of several attempts to modify it, failed to bring prosperity to the Soviet Union, so he introduced perestroika and glasnost, which led to the demise of the U.S.S.R. The communist system could not be modified by bringing in more democracy, as they were totally incongruous.

The Chinese Model or Maoist path to socialism. During the disastrous “Great Leap Forward” movement launched in 1958, aimed at quickly transforming China into an industrial country, an estimated 30 million people starved to death. The Cultural Revolution, an ostensible bid for a classless society and now acknowledged as “10 years of catastrophe,” killed more than a million people and caused suffering to tens of millions. The model has drastically changed and now combines the political dictatorship of the Communist Party, and a variant of the market economy. Political freedoms do not exist, but the regime allows individuals to produce goods and services, providing they do not interfere with the Communist Party’s running of the country politics, which is the sole sphere of the Communist Party. China has introduced a system of strict authoritarianism and a loosened economy, similar to the one the Soviet Union and its satellites could not blend. The country ranks high on global lists of gross domestic product, foreign direct investment, and exports, but its legal system is unreliable, making capitalism at times a difficult game to master. Although Maoism has been buried and Mao himself airbrushed out of history textbooks, the Leninist lid is still clamped awkwardly on the bubbling cauldron of a complex new economy and society. China officially ignored the 30th anniversary of the death of Mao Zedong on Sep. 9. State television made no mention of Mao, who died in 1976, while the People’s Daily published only two short news briefs on the Internet: remembrances and the construction of a new museum at his birthplace. No editorials or retrospectives were found in the capital’s major newspapers.

The Yugoslav Model. In the 1960’s, worker self-management in factories and institutions was adopted. This program, which sought to address problems inherent in the highly centralized Soviet model of socialism, was codified in the Law on Associated Labor of 1976. Each Yugoslav worker belonged to a Basic Organization of Associated Labor (B.O.A.L.) that was based on the precise role played by the worker in the production process. The B.O.A.L.’s elected representatives to the workers’ councils, which in turn created management boards and determined pay levels, investment policies, and specific goals for production. The workers’ councils also selected a director of the institution, who was charged with running the organization on a day-to-day basis. Although self-management permitted a degree of flexibility in managerial decision-making, worker involvement in the B.O.A.L.’s led to substantial costs in time and efficiency. Dissatisfaction with the model, and with the diversion of profits to less-developed regions, played a large role in the secession of Slovenia and Croatia, and consequently the socialist system was repudiated.

The Levers of Power

Communist systems, though pretending to install classless societies, have actually had the most pronounced system of stratification. To begin with, those who are against the revolutionary process are not even considered a part of the society; they are enemies who should be either killed or cast aside. Among those who support the revolutionary system, members of the nomenclatura, fill the top of the social pyramid, and have all the privileges. If and when they dare question the process, they are usually jailed or sentenced to death as traitors. The Venezuelan stratification value system is still in its infancy, but one can already see divisions along several faulty lines: educational level, race, social class, and income level (the difference between educational and income levels are particularly accentuated). Venezuela lives under a kind of militarism, where the forms of the democratic legality are maintained, but at the same time, the military keeps the main levers of the power.

Patronage that gives government jobs and services mainly to Chavistas not only counteracts Chávez’s campaign promise of creating a government that won’t exclude anyone, but it also undermines the rule of law, thus providing an opening for corruption and the illegitimation of the government, plus it counters the principle of formal equality. More than that, patronage systems encourage a limited form of solidarity, which extends only to one’s own group (in this case one’s political group) and is fundamentally at odds with an effort to create a society in which solidarity includes all people, regardless of nationality or political belief.

The second internal obstacle is the latent personality cult around Chávez and the tendency toward personalized politics in general. On the one hand, Chávez’s ability to bring people together in a large “Bolivarian” movement for radical change in Venezuela is practically unparalleled in recent Venezuela history. On the other hand, this ability has resulted in an extreme dependency of the movement on him, to the exclusion of a clearly defined political program or political organization. This extreme dependence also means that it is extremely difficult for Chávez’s supporters to criticize him because every criticism is considered being against the country. So, criticism from within the ranks does not exist and criticism from outside the ranks is easily dismissed.

The third internal obstacle is a strong tendency toward top-down leadership, not only by Chávez, but also by everyone in the public administration. The bureaucracy is still by and large a top-down operation, which Chávez’s military instincts have reinforced. Such leadership in the public administration further exacerbates the problems mentioned of a personalistic political culture, so that questioning of one’s superiors and correcting errors in the administration of public policies is extremely difficult.

Wasteful Economic Measures

Some of the economic measures announced by Chávez border on the bizarre. He announced the establishment of vertical hen houses, “oligoponic gardens” (an impressive expression meaning simply “small vegetable gardens”), and a pigsty plan for the native-bred Efren Andrade pigs (I have no idea what that means). After the failure of Chinese tractors, he decided to begin assembling expensive and obsolete Iranian tractors. The purchase of obsolete Cuban sugar mills and their installation in Venezuela is another reckless waste, while in the case of the Ezequiel Zamora Agroindustrial Sugarcane Complex (CAEEZ), corruption forced the resignation of agriculture minister Antonio Albarrán, who declared his “political” responsibility, and an immediate scrapping of the project. One thing is for certain, economic mismanagement has a name — Chávez.

Agriculture minister Elías Jaua explained in August that the function of the members of the Francisco Miranda Front (F.M.F.) is to provide support to the members of cooperatives, a greater capacity of organization, and the ideological tools necessary to apply the new model of integral development. I have to explain several things about this sentence. Jaua is a young Marxist ideologue. Members of the F.M.F. are a small group — 2,500 — of young people who went to Cuba for ideological indoctrination. The cooperatives have been in the process of formation for the past two years. Their setup closely resembles Cuban cooperatives, although they carry the name of Zamora, a 19th century peasant leader. It is anticipated that the government will put together 17 “zamorian cooperatives” that should also include schools, hospitals, and dwellings. In addition, 50 other cooperatives will be started, so that they will create the main base of the model of collective fieldwork on which to assure that enough foodstuffs will be produced to feed the people. A very praiseworthy effort, unless we take into account that this type of farming has not been successful in Cuba, nor has it been auspiciously applied in the U.S.S.R. or China. One should bear in mind that even after almost five decades of communist rule Cubans still have food rationing cards, and few consumer goods that are widely available elsewhere in the world.

Since the introduction of currency controls in 2003, the government has been spending money at a rate that doesn’t match the economic growth, i.e. the investment, the hiring of new workers, and the expansion of production of goods and services.According to figures provided by the Finance Ministry at the end of the first half of 2005, total expenses were $24.5 billion, with revenues at $23.2 billion. Therefore, there was a deficit of $1.3 billion. Experts claim that such a gap between revenues and expenses is manageable, as the Congress authorized the government to make debt issuances and to use surplus resources of 2005. The administration has increased expenses significantly this year. Current expenses in the first half amounted to $17.2 billion, compared to $10.3 billion in the same period last year. Oil revenues amounted to $11.4 billion of current revenues, with the oil basket average price at $58. Tax revenues amounted to $10.9 billion. During the last three years, the amount of money in circulation has grown 255 percent, whereas the production of goods has grown only 17 percent. The result is that a lot of money is chasing few goods. The Central Bank reports that many industries are near their total use of capacity. If the government continues spending at this rate, there is no way to contain the inflation, which has become a problem, particularly in the last two months.

In the last seven years, there has been a calculated destruction of the private industrial apparatus, so the idea of changing the pattern from a mono-producing economy dependent on oil export to a diversified economy has disappeared. As a result, the number of unemployed people, who necessarily depend on the money paid by the government, has dramatically increased. Instead of promoting work habits, impoverished sectors have been taught to presume that their well-being did not depend on themselves, but on the crumbs obtained in exchange for unconditional political support.

Chávez’s Electoral Campaign

Chávez’s electoral campaign started, as expected, with a good sense of political logic. He announced its strategic course: a) His true, main rival at the Dec. 3 elections is American imperialism, represented by George W. Bush, and secondarily his puppies — the opposition candidates; b) his next objective is to begin setting up the “national socialism” of the 21st century. The Venezuelan government has changed election rules, succeeding at staying in power by using the National Electoral Council (C.N.E.) as another branch of the executive power; it has eliminated opposition political parties by discrediting them permanently; it goes all over the world with its anti-globalization message; it has created paramilitary reserves; it blames Bush for everything that goes wrong in the world; it has customized repression.

Booming oil prices have resulted in huge increase in revenues. This has allowed the government to keep the official exchange rate steady, thus making imported goods cheaper than domestic ones; this, in turn, resulted in skyrocketing imports, which undermine the domestic industrial sector, as it is not in the position to compete with foreign goods on equal grounds. Furthermore, the private sector has voiced discomfort regarding the “lack of guarantees to protect private property” and the “danger of corporate takeover” by the the state. Promises to construct 150,000 houses annually, the benefits that would be derived from the axis of endogenous development Orinoco-Apure, the objectives to form capable professionals at the Bolivarian University, the intention to get rid of street children by taking care of them, to help flood victims, to eliminate extreme poverty, the plan to apply a strong hand against delinquency, to deliver the agrarian charter to peasants without land and property titles to the inhabitants of the barrios — none of these promises of the past seven years have been fulfilled.

The president loves to be known as a soldier, a revolutionary and a voice of oppressed masses, a determined fighter against the imperio. In his more than seven years in power, he has committed so many errors that his spell has diminished. He has produced a revolution that brought privileges only to a few who maintain total support of his plans. The benefits: mercal (heavily subsidized food stores), missions, cooperatives, credits without paying back, invasions of the properties worked by others, Bolivarian universities offering doubtful diplomas, have been possible only because of high oil prices, not because the country has produced any other exportable goods.

The Opposition to Chávez

The rosary of complaints is constant, “I voted in the referendum and lost the work, I didn’t vote in December, and they didn’t sign the contract to me.” Nevertheless — and here’s the paradox — when one asks the same people whether there is freedom of expression, the answer is affirmative. There is freedom of expression, because privately owned media can criticize the government. Also, despite the fact that the government has often called for elections, the lack of confidence in those institutions that are supposed to be guardians of fortitude in the electoral system shows that it is difficult to talk about democracy. Therefore, although the people have had chances to frequently vote, if there is no assurance that the vote matters, or if their other civil rights are not guaranteed to them, the people do not live in a democracy. So, “I’m scared to vote, but there’s freedom of expression,” summarizes this generalized contradiction that stymies the opposition, and allows Chávez to stay in power. On the other hand, among many government supporters there is the belief that the government is bad because the president does not know what is going on, or because the bureaucracy is not following Chávez’s directives. Whoever contrived this strategy is a genius!

Since there are no suitable conditions to play the electoral game, participating in the elections means dancing to the tune orchestrated by the regime. What are the acceptable election rules? The opposition has repeated them dozens of times, in vain: The purification of electoral registry, the elimination of finger printing machines, the access of opposition representatives to all the phases of the voting, the presence of opposition witnesses in each polling center after opening ballot boxes and counting of votes, the elaboration and shipment of acts of results after the manual count, independent international observation, and the safekeeping of the ballot boxes after the voting process.

In his first speech on Aug. 10 as opposition candidate, Rosales offered to distribute the country’s income in order to emphasize his care for the poor. The social issue was on the top of the agenda. It includes two axes. Firstly, a minimum wage for the unemployed, “until the state helps them find a job.” Secondly, a financial tool involving a direct contribution for the middle-class and the underprivileged of $280 and $466, according to oil prices. The problem with the proposal of direct distribution of oil income slides into the territory of Chávez’s populist and demagogic promises. In such a competition, Chávez has advantages in the matter of offers.

Besides, can the authorities truly identify the profile of a family in a state of extreme poverty, or the people who are unemployed in spite of trying hard to find a job? Or will the money be distributed to loafers and sluggards?

On the other hand, there is silence on the electoral conditions. Rosales says he is sure he will be the winner, but he is mum about the measure to be taken to prevent the fraud, prepared by Chávez. The voters’ register is plagued with errors, the issuance of ID cards smells of fraud, fingerprint machines seem to reveal for whom voters cast ballots, it’s necessary to secure opening of all ballot boxes to confirm that the computer correctly registered the vote. The last condition needs a short explanation. When the voter casts the ballot, the touch-screen computer gives a paper, which is then picked up by the voter and dropped into the ballot box alongside it. The regime has generally refused to count those papers, except some of them, chosen by the government. That seems unreasonable, since if the voting was clean. Why should the papers not be counted? Ordinary people should know what programmers know: that any voting “machine” with a computer chip, motherboard, program or software is a computer, and can be easily tampered with (that is, reprogrammed) at any time, on site or remotely. It can be programmed to favor one candidate on Election Day, but to give a true count at other times. And a “paper trail” is of no value unless the paper is verified by the voter and actually counted. The only practical fix is to abandon the costly machines and to switch to readily available paper ballots. Fraud is possible with paper ballots, but with a machine, the fraud is easier, faster, and less traceable.

Wooing the Muslim World

The strategic alliance of the Venezuelan revolution with Iran and the Islamic world gives origin to the question of what would be Chávez’s commitment if a war breaks out that involves Iran. Iran and Venezuela have already said they would stop exporting oil, and at the same time proposed that oil should be quoted in euros instead of dollars. If that happens, it will mean a big blow to the U.S. currency and the American economy, with grave consequence to the world economy.

Chávez is strengthening strategic relations with the Muslim World: Iran, the unquestionable head of Shiite radical Islam, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine, all forming pincers around Israel. In addition, Iran has a defensive pact with Syria, in case of a possible attack by the U.S. or Israel. On his sudden arrival in Syria Aug. 29, in a story headlined “Chávez, America’s Enemy Number One, International Leader and the Biggest Supporter of Arab Causes”, the Syrian government newspaper Tishrin described Chávez as a hero in the Arab world. The strategy of Iran is to summon to the rise of the “Muslim world” against the West, i.e. the U.S. and Israel. Despite the fact that Iraq is sliding fast toward a bloody civil war, Iran represents the main headache for Bush particularly since his foolhardy effort to transform Iraq into a democratic state, and create a new map of the Middle East, turned into a nightmare. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad challenged Bush on Aug. 29 to a live, televised debate on “world issues and the ways of solving the problems of the international community.” He said such a debate would show “the proposals of the Iranian nation on how to run the world better, different from the U.S. method of use of force.” When Chávez announced strategic alliance with Iran and the Muslim world, he took a daring step in his intention to form an important part of the New Multi-polar World.

Parting Words

In his speech against “imperialism and its allies,” in Syria (Aug. 30), Chávez reiterated” [that we must] fight against [them] everywhere. We have to point up at the imperialism with the finger, with the name and last name, without fears of any kind, and we need to tell the people of the world that in this 21st century we will dig the grave of the North American imperialism.” Nikita Khrushchev said at a reception in the Kremlin on Nov 1956, “We will bury you.” Is Chávez expecting to achieve what the U.S.S.R. could not?

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