Trouble on the pampas – or whatever geographical term is relevant to Venezuela – with news that the Bolter is banging the drum about a petition inviting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to come to Australia and inspire us.

Bolt named the signatories as including Warren Mundine. Mundine later clarified the presence of his signature, to whit that he had, erm, never signed it and that he considered Chavez:

… a retro-communist dictator who is going to destroy his country through a madness [sic] attack on democratic freedoms and the free economy.

Well, one has to say that there is something a little unsettling about the degree of Chavez-worship in the West. Whatever socialism might be in the future, I don’t think the entertaining red caudilloism of comrade Hugo – unilaterally banning alcohol sales over the Easter weekend for example – is really going to be the form it will take.

No sooner had we rushed to the defence of his non-renewal of the license of RCTV – a station whose open invitation to overthrow a democratically elected government would have got it shut down in any Western country – than he moved onto attacking Globovision, a station he suggested had called for his assassination by broadcasting altered footage of the shooting of Pope John Paul II.

So it may well go pear-shaped in Venezuela. Nevertheless, in the week when we’ve been reflecting on the wretched state of Aboriginal health and life chances 40 years on from ’67, should Mundine be so complacent?

Overall in Venezuela, poverty has been reduced between 2000-2005 from around 60% to 35%, with concomitant improvements in literacy, education and healthcare.

Furthermore, he’s not backward in spreading the wealth to social development in South America and beyond. I’ve often wondered if Aboriginal leaders shouldn’t petition Venezuela and Cuba directly for grants and medical brigades, given that white Australia has pretty much abandoned them. After all, the last retro-communist to take an interest was Fred Hollows, and he seemed to do some good.

Still, it’s nothing compared to the joys of the ‘free’ economy.

Peter Fray

72 hours only. 50% off a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

Our two-for-one offer with The Atlantic was so popular we decided to bring it back.

But only for 72 hours.

Use the promo code ATLANTIC2020 and you’ll get 50% off a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year of digital access to The Atlantic (usually $70). That’s BOTH for just $129.

Hurry. Ends midnight this Thursday.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

Claim Now