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Letter to a lefty friend

By Aleksander Boyd

Dear Lefty,
I have noticed that you have been quite antagonistic lately and could not help to wonder why. As you are well aware I do spouse policies geared towards remediation of the huge social problems affecting people in Venezuela and my preoccupation stems from the perception that you might have of me. Allow me to clarify some points, which are of extreme importance if our friendship is to survive.

You have seen me working at the hotel; certainly carrying bags for a living is not my concept of being an oligarch who has taken advantage of its privileged position. You have seen me going to University in the evening. Therefore, my educational development is second to my duties of paterfamilias. How many times since we met have I told you that we are going on holidays? For surely you have taken at least three this year.

What aspect of my personality or behaviour makes you believe that I belong to the upper classes then? As you know, the English government has funds destined to help those families in very low incomes. Thus, if the government and the implacable Inland Revenue placed us in said segment of society -perhaps being a bit annoying on this point- what makes my anti-Chavez stance so despicable? Is it because I have first hand knowledge of the Venezuelan situation, which collides with your belief that Chavez is the beacon of the left in South America?

At this moment in time, we are living example of what a family can achieve in a market economy system married with social policies. We are not rich but we do not starve. We have access to good education for free. The NHS, with its huge problems, provides us medical services when needed, in sum all our basic necessities are cared for by the state. Do you really think that Chavez' Venezuela can be compared to this?

Trust me when I tell you that he is all talk. As a matter of fact, had the conditions in Venezuela be similar to the ones in many European countries we would not be here but there (the weather makes a big difference you know). There is nothing wrong with your deeply held conviction about the infallibility of the left when compared with neoliberalism, capitalism and so on. What is fundamentally evil is to try to impose a dictatorship disguised in a lefty suit. You make use of your freedom of speech on a daily basis. Did you know that in Venezuela, citizens who criticise openly the president are being prosecuted? Would you tolerate that?

Would the British citizens put up even with the thought of a "gag law"? I think not. Mind due; look at the huge mess Mr Blair is in at the moment for taking the country to war. There is a public outcry. The media is unabashedly undermining the credibility of the greatest leader that this country has had for the last 10 years. I have not heard him saying "this is a media coup" or "I am the victim of the dark forces of capitalism and oligarchy", let alone "fascist, opposition coup mongers are trying to put a block on the fulfilment of my goal which is none other than the well being of the poor". You know why I have not heard it? Owing to the balance existing in mature societies such as the British. There is no room for impunity here and the credibility of a leader goes in hand with his performance. Can you see any of that in my country?

I might sound irreverent some times, but then again that is just one characteristic you must expect from individuals exercising their rights in free societies. I do not believe in words but in actions, perhaps you should start doing the same. You all have been deceived by the political discourse of Chavez. He constantly rants about the importance of keeping the Venezuelan oil in Venezuelan hands yet he sends his US ambassador together with some stinking Republicans to "negotiate" deals with Big Oil and the US administration, which I perceive as injurious for the interests of my country. The poor? Very well thanks, they do not know any of that nor do you. A while ago Venezuelan Ambassador to the UK was presenting his book about "Globalisation and its impact in South America" at the LSE. When I asked him about the bearing that governments of each and every one of those nations had on the general situation of those countries he went silent, but a lefty professor present there agreed that it was an excellent question worth to be commented and explored. Another lefty professor only two days ago was quite upset due to his perception that a documentary that we showed was "not objective" and represented a clearly partisan view of the opposition. Well, I do not recall listening to such commentaries when the BBC broadcast the Irish film.

Time and time again I question myself, are you naïve or plain stupid? I would go for naivety. It is quite clear to me that you have bought the arguments of Chavez pretty much the same way Venezuelan citizens did nearly five years ago. It has taken them five years and a lot of pain to realise it and to be frank I do not expect that you will reach the same conclusions. You may ask yourself why? Simply because you do not live there, you have never been robbed or assaulted, no one has ever pointed a gun to your face, you do not know the sheer fear of running for your life, you have not been object of direct attacks by the Prime Minister due to your political beliefs, you are unaware. You live in a balloon, very well protected and good for you. You must question Chavez' actions not his words. We are not questioning the left but an individual that has brought unprecedented levels of agony to a once relatively calmed society. Please do not lecture me about how was the country in the past for I was there, born and raised. I would not dare to give you a condescending speech about the marvellous government of Margaret Thatcher. Respect my friend!

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