Slumlord: Hugo Chávez Essay

Submitted By Sylveons
Words: 1165
Pages: 5

Slumlord On December 11th, 2012, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez underwent his fourth cancer surgery in Cuba. Now serving his fourth term in office, Chavez hasn’t done much for Venezuela in his so-called Bolivian revolution since he took office in 1999. Hugo Chavez has long idolised the Latin American hero Simon Bolivar, so much that he even renamed the country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. “To Chavez, Fidel Castro is the modern day Bolivar, the keeper of the anti-imperialist struggle.” (Anderson, 40) Cuba and the Castro brothers has long been a second home and family to Chavez, who called Fidel Castro his “brother” at a speech at the University of Havana 9 months after he became the president. The two countries has been in a mutual trade for petroleum at low prices to Cuba, and the service of doctors, teachers, and sport instructors to Venezuela. However, in the 14 years that he’s served, Chavez has apparently made minimal improvements in his country; he can’t rely on his own country’s medical service and has to fly to Cuba for his cancer treatment because “many doctors and engineers fled the country.” (Anderson, 47) What goals and plans did Hugo Chavez have for Venezuela when he took office, and what has he actually accomplished in the last 14 years? After a period of study and reflection, Chavez decided to settle on socialism for Venezuela and promised in a speech at the University of Havana that he would make Venezuela into “a sea of happiness and of real social justice and peace.” (Anderson, 42) He was the first left-winged president to be elected in Latin America. This had a domino effect and influenced many other Latin American countries to elect their own left-winged president, such as Nestor and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, and Evo Morales in Bolivia. Hugo Chavez’s plan was to elevate the poor, but in Caracas, one would fail to see the improvements Chavez had claimed to make in his campaign. In the article Slumlord, author Jon Lee Anderson subtly compares Hugo Chavez to El Niño Daza, the boss of a skyscraper-tall architecture full of squatters, as the slumlord of Venezuela as a whole, and develops his article in a way that leads his readers to realize that Venezuela and its capital city Caracas are failed results of the Hugo Chavez’s government.
Anderson first introduces Caracas as a beautiful city that contradicts his view of Hugo Chavez as a failed ruler, until he reveals that the image of the old city has actually been long gone since Chavez came into power. In the 1950’s, Venezuela overthrew its military dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez just after his six years in office, but Jimenez left behind a great deal of public works such as government buildings, public housing projects, tunnels, bridges, parks, and highways.” (Anderson, 42) At the time, Venezuela had a growing middle class with high standards of living and attracted hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Latin America and Europe; with a splendid university, a first-rate art museum, an elegant country club, a string of fine hotels, and exquisite beaches, Caracas used to live up to its reputation as one of the most attractive and modern cities in Latin America. But now, the old Caracas is “barely perceptible today after decades of neglect, poverty, corruption, and social upheaval.” (Anderson, 42) The city now has one of the highest homicide rates in the world and tripled since Chavez took office; an estimated thirty-six hundred people out of the total population of three million were murdered last year, or one murder every two hours. Other than the lack of federal crime enforcement, the city is also jammed with “traffic for hours everyday, polluted with a foul-smelling river that runs through the heart of the city river trash piling up on the side, and filled with drug addicts, homeless people, and the mentally ill.” (Anderson, 42) Anderson cleverly gives his readers the two vastly different images of Caracas before and of present day. Has the