On the death of Hugo Chavez

The Nicaragua Network notes with great sadness the death yesterday of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.  We will miss his ebullient personality, his concern for the marginalized, his commitment to grassroots democracy, and his Bolivarian dream which expanded his vision beyond Venezuela to the rest of Latin America through ALBA.  We note the World Bank statistics that under his government, the number of Venezuelans living in poverty was lowered from 62% in 2003 to 29% in 2009.  We remember with fondness his speech at the United Nations during the Iraq war immediately after W. had spoken when he waved away the smell of sulfur and we remember his response to the needs of poor householders in Boston and other cold northern US cities with free heating oil.

But, most of all we mark his assistance to Nicaragua.  Through ALBA, the cooperative trade arrangement that was the reflection of Chavez’ Bolivarian dream, President Daniel Ortega was able to resolve Nicaragua’s energy crisis and turn the country toward renewables, fund programs based on special financing of Nicaragua’s oil purchases that have reactivated Nicaragua’s agricultural sector and sent food to Venezuela, provided loans to women entrepreneurs through the Zero Usury program, pigs and chickens to families under Zero Hunger, and galvanized metal sheets for rural dwellings under Plan Roof.  President Hugo Chavez will be long remembered! 

Katherine Hoyt and Chuck Kaufman

Co-Coordinators, Nicaragua Network

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