By Ben Cohen
Every time I speak to the average political junkie in the U.S, I hear the following "I want the U.S to get off foreign oil so we stop supporting dictatorships like Iran and Venezuela".
It is now a commonly held assumption that Venezuela is a dictatorship, and they are always held up as a bad country holding the U.S hostage with its oil supply. Why? Simply because the government says it is so.
Venezuela is not a dictatorship - Chavez has been democratically voted in 3 times, abided by an election result that prevented him from running indefinitely, and is doing more to enact the wishes of his people than any president in history. Yet the perception remains the same, and no one, including the media, seems to do any research on it.
For an interesting look into Venezuelan life, check out this article on Chavez's health care reform. Venezuela's socialist policies are aiming to provide free health care to the poorest people in the country, and are using Cuban doctors to go into areas that Venezuelans won't to bridge the enormous divide in terms of access. While Chavez is not perfect (and there are many policies of his I do not agree with), he is making a serious attempt to change Venezuelan society for the better.