Even after his death Chavez's right-wing opponents still, as your editorial rightly said (M Star March 6), criticise his work as "indicative of dictatorial tendencies," questioning his commitment to democracy, even after 15 elections.
Amazing how his attacks on the rich and powerful can be deemed non-democratic, yet our "omnishambles" can destroy the welfare state, privatise the NHS, "academise" - by bribes or force - our schools, support bankers' bonuses and fat cats' obscene pay awards, allow energy companies to raise prices so that they can maximise their profits and do nothing about unscrupulous landlords exploiting tenants, all without a mandate from the British electorate.
I had thought that democracy had something to do with electing a government to carry out the wishes of the people. Silly me!
Following the devastating news of the death of Hugo Chavez, the question arises: "What next for Venezuela?" Predictably, the US and British media have gone into overdrive denigrating Chavez's reputation with tales of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, high-crime rates, lack of democracy, corruption, need I continue?
So, let's look at democracy in Venezuela and Chavez's achievements. Venezuelan elections are among the most heavily scrutinised and monitored in the world.
Britain and the US could learn a great deal from the democratic way elections are conducted.
Chavez's achievements over 13 years in office are impressive - 170 per cent increase in number of health clinics, huge increase in the number of physicians, low debt, high petroleum reserves and high savings, low unemployment, high standards of education with a literacy rate of 99 per cent, flourishing programme of social housing. Shall I continue?
The US baulks at the fact it no longer controls its former "back yard."
It cannot deal with the fact that while its economy plummets, Venezuelans enjoy a good standard of living with excellent health-care provision and employment.
Rather than expending energy on trying to overthrow a democratically elected president, the US would have done well to learn from the successes of this progressive country which controls its own wealth rather than allow big business to profit.
The US and Britain should keep quiet on democracy and human rights given their own appalling records - drone attacks, Guantanamo, Bagram and other black sites, rendition, illegal invasion of other countries, wholesale murder, imprisonment without trial, torture.
It's easy to talk about human rights and democracy in other countries while conveniently trying to stuff your own dirty laundry back in an ever-bulging cupboard. My thoughts are with the Chavez family at this sad time. Venezuela por siempre.
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