Every leader should be given the credit that he deserves, so says the wise adage. Take it or leave it, Hugo Chavez will always be honoured and his legacy be preserved for his sincere honesty and service to his people and humanity.
It was 8 years ago today, on 5th March, 2013 that Hugo Chavez departed this world in mysterious circumstances. This year’s anniversary, like previous years, comes at a critical juncture in Venezuela’s sojourn as the country confronts a myriad of difficulties due to US sanctions and undeclared economic war. It comes also at a time of the surge of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic virus.
The Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCIF-PFS) notes the attempt by mischief makers to uncritically assert that the current situation in Venezuela is as a result of Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Project, which dubs as socialism of the 21st century. We wish to steer clear of that temptation and to instead remember our icon for what he stood for and fought to achieve at a time Venezuela needed him to change the narratives.
We therefore want to use this anniversary to invoke his spirit as we strive to preserve his legacy. Rather than use this occasion to mislead international public opinion, we prefer to leave it to the conscience of good people to break their silence on the gradual erosion of the dignity of the Venezuelan people caused by US undeclared economic war and thirst for regime change in Caracas.
Having said that, the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCIF-PFS) believes that it is fair to conclude that el-Commandante Hugo Chavez in his relatively short life distinguished himself as a man of peace and integrity, and a flambuoyant champion of freedom with a humble spirit that earned him the title of the Jesus Christ of the 21st century. That, his contributions to help change the lives of the people are hailed beyond the shores of Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro and other world good leaders have pointed out the relevance of Hugo Chavez to reshape the global system, devoid of wars, violence or terrorism of any kind.
We celebrate Hugo Chavez on this 8th anniversary of his demise as a rocket that chases poverty and human suffering. We commemorate the anniversary of an icon, philanthropist and a selfless leader, who placed the interests of the masses above showmanship. Declassified documents have revealed shocking details surrounding the painful death of this genius man.
On this day, let us express the resolve that the legacy of Hugo Chavez is carried forward with determination. We must strive to fulfill Chavez’s mission of liberating the masses out of poverty. It is no accident that, eight years after the painful death of Hugo Chavez, people from across the global village are gathering in their different platforms to pay tribute to the father of the Bolivarian Revolutionary Project.
Being a man of sterling character, Chavez defended and fought the cause of the poorest of the poor. Let us promise that in our individual capacities each one of us will preserve the Chavez legacy without any selfish motive and devote our energies to fight poverty wherever this monstrous evil gives expression. This is the greatest tribute we can pay to the Venezuelan leader.
As COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreck havocs on lives and livelihoods, Venezuela has been hard hit due to US devastating sanctions and regime change policy. In deed constitutional President Nicolas Maduro has been very uncompromising and taking the necessary measures to stem the spread of the virus in his country. This is not enough due largely to US tightening of its sanctions and misrepresentation of Venezuelan leadership to the public.
Cuba, Nicaragua and Iran are other countries that had been hit particularly hard by the Corona virus pandemic. These countries are under tightened US blockade and destructive economic sanctions that limit their ability to trade with other nations. These sanctions have practically crippled national economies and push these countries out of the international banking system, and makes it possible for them (Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Iran) to take urgent necessary medical, economic and social measures to protect their citizens from the ravaging corona virus.
As the corona threatened to wipe off whole population, US sanctions against Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Iran should be lifted immediately to help the population of these countries and prevent the global spread of infection. Sanctions have been weakening the public health systems of these countries for decades and, if they are not lifted, they will have grave impacts on their ability to tackle COVID-19.
The Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCIF-PFS) has been unrelenting in its condemnation of the persistence of economic sanctions since the outbreak of COVID-19. This position is taken on the premise that COVID-19 is not deterred by national borders and its spread can only be contained by international solidarity and a co-ordinated public health approach that supersedes political adversary. We share as well a common aspiration for a world where no country or people can oppress and exploit another, and where peoples can live and prosper together in peace, friendship and harmony.
The Venezuelan Government recently applied to the IMF for a $5 billion loan to help deal with the corona virus pandemic, but this was turned down due to pressure from Washington. Again, the seizure of Venezuela’s monies in the US and EU countries as well as the illegal transfer of those monies to the pockets of a vicious opposition go a long way to affect the 28 million people in Venezuela from accessing a properly-functioning public health system.
On Cuba, the US has imposed sanctions on the Island since February 1962, when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the countries, despite the United Nations overwhelmingly voting against the blockade for the last 30 years. Cuba’s prioritisation of public health and contribution to medical humanitarianism are well-documented , and even more impressive considering the economic pressures exerted on the Caribbean Island. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Cuba has stepped up its humanitarian contribution to fighting the virus , sending rapid response medical teams to its neighbours, Europe and Africa.
Meanwhile, the USA has blocked the export of Personal Protective Equipment, commonly referred to as PPE to Caribbean countries that had purchased medical equipment from American production companies. The contrasting approaches of the two countries to addressing the global pandemic are stark; and there is a cruel irony in how US sanctions will not only harm Cuba itself, but also impede its efforts to lend assistance to those around the world that need it. PPE is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards.
It is no more news that the blockade impinges Cuban efforts to import and export resources, and foreign cargo companies are reluctant to deliver goods to the Island for fear of reprisals from the US government. Official reports recently released to the public confirmed that a shipment of vital medical aid , including ventilators and rapid diagnostic kits, was halted from entering Cuba because the American shipping company tasked with transporting the goods feared breaching the sanctions regime. Cuban officials have also reported that a Colombian airline company refused to deliver medical aid to the Island because the airline’s main shareholder was an American company that feared reprisal for importing goods to Cuba.
In the tradition of a genuine Chavista, the late Venezuelan leader faced death rather than abandoned his people. Those who wanted him out of the scene shall never be able to kill his ideas, which drove and inspired a generation of cherished goals. The Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCIF-PFS) will forever preserve the legacy of the Venezuelan leader, who sacrificed everything for his country and for the rights of its downtrodden and barefoot masses.
We appreciate the labour of Hugo Chavez, 8 years after his demise. May the God Almighty continue to shine His Light on the face of the late Venezuelan leader, as we observe 8 years of his passing and may God Almighty continue to bless the family he left behind.
Long live the Bolivarian project! Chavez lives!! Chavez never dies!!!
Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
Consular-General and President of the Governing Council
Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCIF-PFS)