A friend and colleague Professor Salim Lamrani has just posted '50 truths about Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution'. It will make uncomfortable reading for many who have spent years villifying the Venezuelan leader. Here for example are the first ten:
1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.
2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.
3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela's electoral system was "the best in the world."
4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.
5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.
6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.
7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.
8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.
9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.
10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.
Meanwhile, the idea that Chávez might have been murdered is gaining currency. The French investigative journalist who resides in Cuba, Jean Guy-Allard, has posted this article suggesting that the death of the Venezuelan leader was ordered by the anti-Castro crowd in Florida: "The assassins of Hugo Chávez have names." (in Spanish)