Our Times 3

Beware the Lies of March—What Shakespeare tells us about Hugo Chávez

Latin America and the Caribbean

I come to bury Chávez, not to praise him. Barak Obama says he was authoritarian. And the President is an honourable man. John Graham, former ambassador to Venezuela says he couldn’t manage his own economy. And he is an honourable man. Stephen Harper says he was undemocratic. And he is a Right Honourable man. So are they all, all honourable men.

And yet … Hugo Chávez gave people free education while others indenture their citizens. He put in place the most robust electoral system in the south. He narrowed the gap between rich and poor even while the gap grows wider in the north. Poverty, infant mortality, public debt—all cut by half.

His will, shall I read you his will? It is simple. To the people of Venezuela he gives them their own country’s resources, and the money earned from their extraction.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar had Marc Antony to rehabilitate his reputation. His Richard III had no one. Shakespeare says the King was a murderer, a usurper, and a twisted tyrant. And Shakespeare was honourable man.

But Tudor generals dumped Richard under a Leicester parking lot and Tudor historians heaped upon the King’s corpse the kind of half-truths that pepper Shakespeare’s play.

[And yet} … Richard reduced poverty and unemployment in the north of England. He opened the courts for the poor to air their grievances. He instituted bail for those accused of crimes.

Beware the Ides of March. Beware the lies of March.


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