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Honduras and My Venezuelan Family

By       Message Douglas C. Smyth       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Honduran businessmen, the wealthy upper classes afraid of Zelaya, expect that American and Canadian business will come back--and why shouldn't it? Are American businesses really for democracy when it involves giving poor people--workers--more power to organize for better lives? Are American businesses really for greater democracy at home? They oppose strengthening the puny union movement here; I doubt they're very concerned about fair elections, either, unless they're rigged the wrong way.

I see parallels between Honduras and Venezuela, but not how you might think. My mother is Venezuelan. My Venezuelan uncle always claimed that American business really preferred dictatorship to democracy (my family was high up in the Gomez regime). With a dictatorship, only the dictator has to be bought off, but think how many have to be paid off in a democracy!

My family in Venezuela hates Chavez, and is convinced he's going to make Venezuela into another Cuba. I don't agree, but the interesting question is why do people like my family hate Chavez? The same question could be asked about Honduran upper class hatred of Zelaya.

My relatives--with one exception--are not rich; they are solidly middle class, highly educated, and held positions of responsibility in Venezuela's various bureaucracies, work for foreign firms, or provide services to other businesses. Their children have gone into business--buying and selling, taking advantage of the economic turmoil--or work for foreign firms.

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But it's almost a given among them: Chavez has to be stopped. My retired cousin is active in organizing against Chavez. All of my family marched against him in the big anti-Chavez demonstrations (they were out-demonstrated by the even larger hordes of Chavistas in Caracas).

So, why do they hate Chavez? It's not all the overt political reasons stated, like "dictatorship" and incompetence; it's a class thing. Chavez is browner, more clearly Indian (although my family is not as Spanish as they would like). And he appeals to the poor, the uneducated, the ranchito dwellers (think barrios), and the campesinos. My family's people have always been in control--and now they've got competition! They fled to the private sector, but there were times, in the past, when some of them (including my grandfather) had to leave the country--their opponents in the oligarchy had taken control.

The Hondurans against Zelaya are very like my Venezuelan family, but in addition, because of Chavez's example--and the comparative plight of the middle class in Venezuela--they fear Chavismo, too, although Zelaya is only a pale imitation.

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Hence, the coup, and the refusal to take Zelaya back.

No surprise the US is ambivalent: Chavez is Zelaya's ally. While Zelaya may have wanted to change the Honduran Constitution a la Chavez, he was only at the beginning of this process (the non-binding plebiscite that was the pretext for the coup). But the oligarchy took its chance.

It'll be pretty hard to get them to give it up now, especially if American businesses come back, which they surely will, unless the US becomes a lot less ambivalent and enforces tough economic sanctions.

What are the chances of that?


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I am a writer and retired college teacher. I taught college courses in Economics and Political Science (I've a Ph.D) and I've written as a free-lancer for various publications.

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