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XXI Century Socialism according to Hugo Chavez

By Aleksander Boyd

Caracas 08.01.07 | Well folks it seems that I can't keep from reporting the insanities of the president elected by more than 7 million of my countrymen/women. As I was dozing today I heard bits of president Chavez's speech during the swearing ceremony of his new 27 ministers -let us not forget that he started of in 1998 with 12... In any case he was trying to put some meat behind that hard-to-define concept known as "XXI century socialism". Up until this point his minions have had a tough time trying to explain what does it mean so the president himself had to explain it, thus "XXI century socialism" -according to president Chavez- means:

1. Scrap central bank autonomy.

2. Nationalize CANTV (telecom company) and the electricity industry.

3. Change business code/laws;

4. Cancel the broadcasting license of Venezuela's largest TV network (RCTV).

5. Seek special powers from Congress to approve new “Revolutionary” laws -only Chavez knows what "revolutionary" means...

6. The state should have a majority stake in Orinoco Basin heavy oil upgrading joint-ventures.

The six points, part of a summary by Goldman Sachs, are indicative of the sort of 'socialism' that Chavez has in mind. However point number three needs further explaining. The new Finance Minister, Rodrigo Cabezas, announced that from now on private companies' earnings will be capped so that health and education budgets can be increased. In short, the Venezuelan government will presumably regulate profit margins -and obviously take a bigger tax cut- so that businesses operating in Venezuela can augment contributions in order to fund governmental projects. Then instead or guaranteeing a stable climate for investment the new inventors of socialism will, unilaterally, scrap contracts with private corporations and impose new stake terms on existing and allegedly perfectly legal agreements, as suggested in point six. Needless to say that CANTV shares -partly owned by Verizon- dropped in NYSE. "Todo lo que fue privatizado debe ser nacionalizado" said president Chavez, who included in the nationalization drive electricity companies that have been privately owned since incorporation.

All was 'socialism' in president Chavez's address. For instance he referred to OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza as "pendejo" -an endearing term used by the neo socialist that means "idiot." At last he made proper use of language to refer to a man who seems convinced that all is fine and dandy in this socialist country.

President Chavez also pledged to send literature on socialism -penned by the likes of Marx and Stalin- to Church hierarchs so that they can learn what his 'XXI Century Socialism' is all about.

To wit Venezuelans must feel grateful for president Chavez has bothered to clarify the goals of his project. Novel indeed these goals are, specially the building of a hegemonic construct that will quash competition, dissent, inalienable rights and freedoms.

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