Who was he: populist, who was buying people’s love for the petrodollars or he was a really talented administrator who managed to build a fair model of society? Historians will argue about it for years just like the Venezuelan voters are arguing feeling abandoned after Ugo Chaves’ death. Chaves was leaning on the lower social strata of Venezuellan society: peasants, cliff dwellers and numerous inhabitants of the so called barrio or ghettos. He was loved for the cheap microcredits, for giving the land to the natives, for good Cuban doctors, massively coming to work in Venezuella, for the symbolic prices on the petrol and for the welfare payments which allow you to stay unemployed and for the constant increasing of the salaries of the state employees. He was also loved not only for his charisma, great deeds and oratorical skills but finally for his anti-American rhetoric which resebled Che Guevara and young Fidel Castro. Or is Chaves’ successfulness just a myth?On the contrary his critics are sure that decumulation of the surplus incomes from the nationalized oil companies can’t be the economical model. He was not forgiven for the friendship with such odious political leaders like Gaddafi, Hussein, Ahmadinejad and Lukashenko. The ghost of a dictatorship was seen in the cancelling of the presidential tenure. After Chaves’ death Venezuellan society split in halves (as the election for Chaves’ place showed). As it turned out – poor folk was OK with the course to “Latin-American socialism”. The middle class craved for the democracy and liberal changes. The compromise between these two halves has never been found — Chaves’ successor, Nikolay Mudro has won. And that means the experiment will be continued. May be later it’ll become clear whether the model of the State created by Chaves is viable or it could live only then the architect, who built it and became the legend inter vivos, was alive. Although, even if Chaves was in fact talented only in “buying” of the poor electorate’s love, the love was honest and I had a chance to make sure of that when arrived into Caracas for the funeral of the Venezuelan comandante.
Photo & Video: VALERY MELNIKOV
Edit & Post Production: GRIGORY SOBCHENKO
Original Music: ANASTASIYA TOKAREVA