Chavez gift to Obama: a book on Latin American exploitation

Posted Apr 19, 2009 by Michael Krebs
At Americas summit, Venezuelan Leader Hugu Chavez offers U.S. President Obama a gift - a book written more than 30 years ago that is an insight into the persistence of communism in Latin America.
President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.
President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.
Courtesy Office of the Presidency, Venezuela
Hugu Chavez wants President Obama to join his book club. At the Latin American summit this week, the Venezuelan leader offered Obama a gift - [i]Open Veins of Latin America, a book that chronicles the exploitations the Latin American continent has endured over the past 5 centuries.
While it might not exactly be an airplane read, Open Veins of Latin America the gift may be the most obvious platform for Latin American communism in the Obama Administration's library.
"Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation," writes Monthly Review Press. "Thus he is concerned with gold and silver, cacao and cotton, rubber and coffee, fruit, hides and wool, petroleum, iron, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum ore, nitrates, and tin. These are the veins which he traces through the body of the entire continent, up to the Rio Grande and throughout the Caribbean, and all the way to their open ends where they empty into the coffers of wealth in the United States and Europe."
These are big concerns, and there is a rich and ugly history throughout the South American continent.
The book's author, Eduardo Galeano, describes a plundered people in a plundered land - a combination that yields the kind of universal victim that should reasonably reject the capitalist structures of the governments that have taken so many resources from the continent.
"Our defeat was always implicit in the victory of others; our wealth has always generated our poverty by nourishing the prosperity of others," Galeano wrote.
Hugo Chavez recently described President Obama as naive, and the gift may reflect the Venezuelan leader's desire to educate the U.S. President.
President Obama was asked what he thought of the gift.
According to ABC News, Obama answered, “You know, I thought it was one of Chavez’s books. I was going to give him one of mine.”