The book, titled “Hugo Chavez: My First Life”, narrates the life of the late Venezuelan president from his birth up to when he assumed the country’s top office in 1999. Chavez governed from then until 5 March this year, when he lost his two-year struggle against cancer.
During his fifteen year period of office Chavez introduced sweeping progressive political, social and economic reforms to Venezuelan society. He gained the overwhelming support of the country’s poor and won three reelections as well as several national referenda. However the domestic conservative opposition and international media painted him as heavy handed and dictatorial.
Ramonet’s book on the iconic Latin American leader is based on the editing of a serious of interviews held between Chavez and Ramonet from 2008 to 2010. Chavez himself reviewed the book before its publication, and even had a hand in choosing the title.
Speaking to Venezuelan media, Ramonet said that the book was “not flattering, but sincere”. “When you converse for one hundred hours, you can’t hide anything,” he added.
Explaining the motives behind writing the book, the Spanish journalist said, “I wanted in some way to finish with the opinion that existed of the president [Chavez], because from the outside they made him seem like a tyrant who was uncultured and didn’t know about politics”.
Specifically, the book explores Chavez’s political, intellectual and sociological formation, as well as sharing some unique personal anecdotes.
Ignacio Ramonet said that he had been impacted by Chavez’s rise from childhood poverty in the rural town of Sabaneta to enter the National Military Academy, from where he would burst onto Venezuela’s political scene.
The book argues that it was Chavez’s experience of poverty in early life while receiving education from his teacher parents and engaging in a great deal of self-study which formed him into the Chavez that would become the leader of the country’s Bolivarian Revolution.
Ramonet appeared particularly interested in the late president’s intellectual development, highlighting how the young Chavez avidly read on history, politics and philosophy.
The Spaniard concluded that despite Chavez’s image in the international media, “He was an unbreakable man; true to his thoughts, loyal to his people, extraordinary in his thinking, and with great love for his country”.
CHAVEZ’S LEGACY WILL CONTINUE
Ignacio Ramonet also argued that with the election of President Nicolas Maduro in April, Chavez’s political project will continue.
According to the journalist, the right-wing opposition thought that the Bolivarian revolution would end with Chavez’s death, and after the election of Nicolas Maduro, have launched a plan to sabotage the economy and achieve that goal.
“Because of that, this situation has been created of hoarding, electricity sabotage and difficulties in everyday life. Now the opposition says everything is the government’s fault…it’s exactly the same situation that was created before the military coup against [former Chilean president Salvador] Allende,” he said, while dismissing that a similar coup would happen in Venezuela.
Ramonet predicted that progressive politics would continue to predominate in Venezuela and Latin America, arguing that only a few countries in the region were still governed by conservatives.
“Thanks to Chavez this country is in the centre of Latin American dynamics once again, which curiously hadn’t happened since [Venezuela’s 19th century founder] Simon Bolivar. Venezuela is politically more important than some of the Latin American colossi!” he remarked.
The promotional tour for “Hugo Chavez: My First Life”, which was published earlier this year, also includes visiting Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Spain. The book is to be translated to German and Portuguese.