With a tweet thanking God and declaring onwards to victory, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez arrived home from Cuba yesterday, to the delighted of his supporters.
“It’s fabulous news, the best thing possible,” said Chávez ’s cousin, Guillermo Frias. “Venezuela was waiting for him . . . Welcome home! Thank God he’s back!”
Fireworks were set off in some Caracas neighbourhoods as news spread and celebrations began among Chávistas, as his most fervent supporters are known. Government ministers were jubilant with one singing “He’s back, he’s back!” live on state TV.
They asked Chávez ’s euphoric supporters to respect the peace of patients at the military hospital, near a hillside shanty-town. Soldiers guarded the installation, while supporters chanted, “We are Chávez !” and “He’s back, he’s back!” At one point, medical staff asked them to quieten down.
The 58-year-old socialist leader’s homecoming in the middle of the night two months after cancer surgery in Cuba implies some medical improvement – at least enough to handle a flight of several hours.
Chávez could simply be hoping to quieten political tensions and smooth a transition to vice-president Nicolas Maduro, whom he has urged voters to back should he have to stand down and a new presidential election is held.
“We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment,” Chávez tweeted after flying in.
MANILA, Philippines – As the first female chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited the country for the first time and met with Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III Friday morning, debt watchdog Freedom from Debt Coalition staged a protest near the Malacañan Palace, in solidarity with the peoples of the Eurozone.
“For FDC, the IMF is dead, a walking dead,” said the group’s president, Ricardo Reyes. “The sooner we bury this economic zombie, the better for the economies and the peoples of the world.”
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde arrived Thursday afternoon and met with the President Friday, ostensibly to solicit insights on how to solve the Eurozone economic crisis and also to advise the Philippine government to rationalize tax incentives granted to business. She is in the country as part of a visit to Southeast Asia. She is also scheduled to attend a meeting of ASEAN nations in Cambodia early next week.
In a statement, FDC said that Lagarde’s coming and her reception by the Philippine government evokes a surreal scene. “This institution has been widely dismissed as monstrous failure to stabilize the global financial system and as a wrecker of developing economies,” it said.
“No amount of persuasion and distortion of history can redeem the IMF from its pathetic track record – its failure to predict many crises of regional and global impacts, including the US financial crisis; its counterproductive prescriptions to such crises, and its policy conditionalities to its loans to many developing countries, like the Philippines, which drove them deeper into debt and maldevelopment. For all these reasons, the IMF should have long been consigned to oblivion and death,” FDC said.
“But no, the G-20, especially the G-7 masters of global finance capitalism has artificially resuscitated it with a new mission: to push for the same old rotten prescriptions of monetary tightening and fiscal contraction or austerity measures, this time, in Eurozone countries in crisis while promoting countercyclical macroeconomic policies like expansionary spending and investments to counter the recession in the US and Western Europe,” added FDC.
“We, Filipinos, were once victims and, until now, suffer the grave consequences of the structural adjustment programs (SAPs) imposed by the IMF on us in the 1980s. Now, we witness once again the grave consequences of IMF’s recycled mantra, as our fate will be the same fate of the peoples of the Eurozone under the IMF’s direction. Massive cuts in public spending and the negative multiplier effects they generate have led to massive unemployment and collapse of social services. Consequently, this will result in intensifying global inequality between the North and the South, and between the 99% of the North and their super, super-rich elites,” FDC said.
“We, in FDC, join the peoples of the Eurozone who are currently on strike. The IMF should not be permitted to spread socioeconomic diseases through its vile, anti-people and neoliberal policies here in the Philippines, or in the Eurozone, or in any other country,” FDC said.