The Chávez revolution remains the most original and democratic experiment in Latin America, and is clearly here to stay
By Richard Gott
"In an unusually large open space, in a poor area of the city of Caracas where ramshackle houses built from breeze blocks and concrete columns occupy every available piece of ground, and where narrow streets wind up the hillside filled perpetually by throngs of people, one of the many thousands of cooperative enterprises created in the last few years has been securely established.
Two large hangars house workshops, and close by is a large well-equipped clinic and a government food store selling cheap food, known as a Mercal. It sells a limited range of basic foodstuffs but would hardly justify the title of supermarket. Today, as everywhere throughout Caracas, powdered milk is in short supply, although no one knows for certain if this is the result of opposition manoeuvre and malice, or of government incompetence.
The clinic is clean and well organised, with modern equipment and a stream of patients throughout the day. Unusually, it is manned by Venezuelan doctors rather than by the Cubans who, in their thousands, have run the medical outposts in the poorest parts of the country over the past three years....
.....Quite apart from the extraordinary mobilisation of the people in the poorest areas, benefiting from new schools and clinics, there has been a huge expansion of public works all over the country, with new railway lines and motorways and well-designed sports facilities in almost every major city. Even the road from the airport has finally acquired a new motorway bridge, and many shacks on the surrounding hillsides have been freshly painted in gaudy colours, blue and orange, yellow and pink. Doubtless these could be denounced as Potemkin villages, yet they demonstrate an organising power on the part of the people that augurs well for the future. The Chávez revolution remains the most original and democratic experiment in Latin America, and is clearly here to stay."