by Stephen Lendman
For millions in Venezuela, the region and beyond, Chavez is bigger than life. He's heroic.
He's important to sustain Bolivarian values. He's a legend in his own time. He's a role model for other leaders.
He's also struggling to recover from complex cancer surgery. It's his fourth in 18 months. More on that below.
Venezuelans support him overwhelmingly. On Sunday they showed it. Regional elections were held. Bolivarianism triumphed.
Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 20 of 23 gubernatorial races. Reuters called it a Chavista "sweep." AP said Chavez allies "steamrolled the opposition."
At just under 54%, turnout was surprisingly low. In 2008, it was 65%. Mayoralties were also at stake then.
Perhaps this time a combination of voter fatigue, the approaching holidays, and other factors kept people home.
Voting went smoothly. On Sunday, National Bolivarian Armed Forces Operational Strategic Command head, Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernandez, said:
"The process is going well, and we hope it will continue so during the whole day." Later reports confirmed a calm, smooth vote.
About 141,000 military personnel protected 12,748 polling stations and voters nationwide.
From Cuba, Chavez called on Venezuelans to vote. Minister of Science and Technology, Jorge Arreaza, delivered his message on national television, saying:
Chavez urged "particularly the patriot people, those who love the homeland, to take part and solidify spaces of government which guide us into the greatest sum of happiness possible."
He added that Chavez is doing well. He "sends his love to Venezuela and the people of Latin America."
On Saturday, he began "to communicate, instruct, govern, and give instructions to be carried out" back home. He's "closely following the elections."
"He has received the report on the situation in the country on such an important day. He has ratified the call for our country to vote."
He added that his recovery shows a "positive trend with every passing hour."
Sunday was far more than a Chavez sympathy vote. It was a referendum on Bolivarianism. Results showed PSUV candidate dominance. Opposition ones lost five previously held governorships.
Chavismo won in Zulia. It's Venezuela's most populous state. It's also its vital oil industry hub.
Opposition candidates also lost Tachira, Carabobo, Monagas and Nuerva Esparta. They held Miranda, Amazonas and Lara states.
In Miranda, former PSUV vice president Elias Jaua lost to opposition presidential candidate/current Miranda governor Henrique Capriles. Near final totals show he won 50 - 46%.
Venezuelans chose 23 governors and 237 legislators. As of Monday AM, legislative voting results weren't announced. They may replicate gubernatorial ones.
PSUV candidates won three more victories than in 2008. Near final results were as follows:
Amazonas: PSUV's Nicia Maldonado 37%; MUD's (Roundtable of Democratic Unity coalition) Liborio Guarulla 65%;
Anzoategui: PSUV's Aristobulo Isturiz 53.97%; MUD's Antonio Barreto Sira 41.06%;
Apure: PSUV's Ramón Carrizalez 59.83%; MUD's Luis Lippa 22.42%;
Aragua: PSUV's Tareck El Aissami 52.72%; MUD's Richard Mardo 42.71%;
Barinas: PSUV's Adan Chavez 54.69%; MUD's Julio Cesar Reyes 41.72%;
Bolivar: PSUV's Francisco Rangel Gomez 43.57%; MUD's Andres Velasquez 42.34%;
Carabobo: PSUV's Francisco Ameliach 53.49%; MUD's Henrique Salas Feo 42.7%;
Cojedes: PSUV's Erika Farías 59.27%; MUD's Alberto Galindez 35.31%;
Delta Amacuro: PSUV's Lizeta Hernandez 61.27%; MUD's Arevalo Salazar 20.99%;
Falcon: PSUV's Stella Lugo de Montilla 48.28%; MUD's Gregorio Graterol 35.28%;
Guarico: PSUV's Rodriguez Chacin 70.41%; MUD's Jose Manuel Gonzalez 25.55%;
Lara: PSUV's Luis Reyes Reyes 41.98%; MUD's Henri Falcon 54.35%;
Merida: PSUV's Alexis Ramírez 47.56%; MUD's Lester Rodriguez 37.96%;
Miranda: PSUV's Elías Jaua Milano 46.13%; MUD's Henrique Capriles Radonski 50.35%;
Monagas: PSUV's Yelitze Santaella 52.59%; MUD's Soraya Hernandez - Independent Jose Briceno 40.67%;
Nueva Esparta: PSUV's Carlos Mata Figueroa 52.44%; MUD's Morel Rodríguez 44.34%;
Portuguesa: PSUV's Wilmar Castro Soteldo 50.96%; MUD's Ivan Colmenares - PCV's Oswaldo Zerpa 22.59%;
Sucre: PSUV's Luis Acuna 56.77%; MUD's Hernan Nunez 35.26%;
Tachira: PSUV's Jose Vielma Mora 51.7%; MUD's Cesar Perez Vivas 44.48%;
Trujillo: PSUV's Rangel Silva 79.4%; MUD's Jose Hernandez 17.31%;
Vargas: PSUV's Jorge Luis García Carneiro 69.05%; MUD's Jose Manuel Olivares 24.13%;
Yaracuy: PSUV's Julio Leon Heredia 57.08%; MUD's Biagio Pilieri 36.05%;
Zulia: PSUV's Francisco Arias Cardenas 50.99%; MUD's Pablo Perez 46.74%.
Latin American Studies Professor Miguel Tinker Salas said:
Results "underscore the fact that Chavismo can survive at least at the regional level without Chavez."
"The reality is that the Chavistas today proved that their movement is institutionalized enough to sustain itself and to win statehouses in almost 90 percent of Venezuela."
What's true regionally reflects overwhelming national support.
Chavista campaign manager Jorge Rodriguez hailed the victory. "The map painted red," he said. It's PSUV's color.
"Chavismo, the force of the nation, won a crushing majority. This is a victory for all of Venezuela but particularly a victory for Chavez."
Voters overwhelmingly showed support for Chavez, his allies, and Bolivarian social justice. They won't tolerate going back to Venezuela's dark past.
Ahead of the vote, banners on lampposts read "Now more than ever with Chavez." Vice President Nicolas Maduro addressed Venezuelans, saying "Let's not fail Chavez."
"Today is a day where the entire nation will ratify its love for the country."
He explained that Chavez is communicating with his cabinet daily. He's kept informed "step by step of everything that is going on economically and politically."
Ahead of the vote, Venezuelan officials expressed outrage about Obama's Friday comments. As Chavez struggles to recover from complex surgery, he called his policies "authoritarian."
A Venezuelan Foreign Ministry statement said he further damaged relations between the countries. He showed "aggression and disrespect" at a very "delicate moment."
Venezuela "demands respect from (Obama) and officials from his government for the dignity of the Venezuelan people, its institutions and especially for" Chavez.
Obama outrageously said:
"The most important thing is to remember that the future of Venezuela should be in the hands of the Venezuelan people. We've seen from Chavez in the past authoritarian policies, suppression of dissent."
His comments reflect America's imperial arrogance. Venezuelan governance shames its northern neighbor. It champions democratic freedoms. Washington spurns them at home and abroad. It wages war on humanity.
Information Minister Ernesto Villegas responded to Obama, saying:
Venezuelans "openly exercise freedoms and rights that US. society is far from reaching."
"With his despicable statements in this very delicate moment for Venezuela, the president of the United States takes the responsibility of pushing bilateral relations toward increased deterioration, showing evidence of the continuity of its policy of aggression and disrespect toward our country."
Media scoundrels unjustifiably attack Chavez. They do it viciously. They've done it throughout his tenure. Facts don't interfere with their misreporting.
It's standard practice to vilify independent leaders. Democrats are called tyrants or close to it.
America suppresses democratic values. In Venezuela they thrive. Venezuelans pray for Chavez to regain full health. He's too important to lose.
A Final Comment on His Heath
On December 14, the Havana Times published a Venezuelan government press release, saying:
"Consistent with the duty to inform the Venezuelan people and the peoples of the world about the evolution of the state of health of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, additional medical information from Havana is being presented in relation to the results of the surgery and the current condition of Commander Hugo Chavez."
"Currently the patient is progressively and favorably recovering his normal vital signs."
"This recovery process, however, requires a reasonable amount of time due both to the complexity of the procedure performed and complications that arose during surgery (these consisted of bleeding that required corrective action to allow its proper control)."
"In so far as the positive developments continue - which are beginning to become evident - the application of additional specific treatment is foreseen to assist in the full recuperation of the patient's health."
"With this information, the Bolivarian government hopes to convey the message of calm and hope to all people of good will, in different corners of the nation and around the world, who are directing their prayers and good wishes for the speedy and satisfactory improvement Commander Chavez."
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.