A little old lady interviewed by El País in a mourning crowd of Venezuelans gave the most insightful analysis of Hugo Chávez and his probable legacy: "He gave us an identity!".
Latin America is filled with people like that old lady, they are the overwhelming majority: poor, brown, left out and despised by the white, Criollo minority that has ruled the continent since colonial times. Chávez has given them an identity, an icon and marked a path. How attractive that identity, that Icon and that path are in South America can be judged by the reaction of Brazil's moderate president, Dilma Roussef, quoted in The Guardian, "The loss is irreparable. He was a great leader and friend of Brazil. President Chávez will live on in the empty space that he filled in the heart of history and the struggle of Latin America."
Paradoxically the conditions that brought forth Hugo Chávez in South America, obscene wealth and inequality in the midst of poverty, squalor and injustice, are being replicated right now in the developed world. Chávez's death coincides with the Dow Jones index hitting "all time highs", while, as John Gapper writes in the Financial Times, with unemployment hanging over their heads, the working poor and even university educated, middle class Americans are being encouraged to work longer hours at lower pay.... and in Europe? Much of its south is busy looking for their Hugo Chávez.
Hugo Chávez is/was not a freak accident, he is a leading indicator of the United State's loosening grip in the midst of the most important systemic crisis since the Great Depression. DS