Hugo Chavez: Thug and Dictator

Hugo se murió

Hugo Chavez is dead. He leaves behind a country ruined by populist policies he referred to as “Socialism of the 21st Century.” Venezuela under 14 years of Chavez’s leadership benefited from about $1 trillion in revenues from the oil bonanza but has little to show for it. Instead, the country has largely followed the path described by economists Rudi Dornbusch and Sebastian Edwards in their 1991 classic, The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America.
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Venezuela’s economy, kept afloat by the long commodity boom, has not yet collapsed. But it is headed for crisis.

The Chávez Record

It’s stunning what people will excuse if the right magic words are sprinkled over the repression.
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It’s easy to mock [Hugo] Chavez because of his outspoken anti-American attitudes but you know what? That wasn’t the problem with Chavez. He was a thug and a dictator who, like all such despots, spent most of his time and energy destroying the lives of the people he was supposed to help. That’s his real crime – not taking swipes at George W. Bush or attacking the U.S. during overlong U.N. speeches.

And that’s why it’s pathetic to see fools like {Representative] Jose Serrano [(D-NY)] making excuses for a guy who first and foremost hurt the people he supposedly cared about so goddamn much.

Rep. Jose Serrano on Hugo Chavez: “a leader that understood the needs of the poor.”

Venezuela long ago ceased to be a real democracy: The ruling regime effectively controls the Supreme Court (which in 2004 was expanded and packed with Chávez allies), the National Assembly (which in 2010 granted Chávez the authority to rule by decree for 18 months), and the National Electoral Council (which repeatedly allowed Chávez supporters to violate election laws and rules during the country’s 2012 presidential campaign), not to mention the armed forces and the federal police.

For that matter, Venezuela long ago ceased to be a country with real press freedom or real economic freedom. Besides imposing a series of draconian restrictions on media content, the Chávez government has “blocked critical coverage, closed broadcasters, sued reporters for defamation, excluded those it deems unfriendly from official events, and harassed — with the help of government allies and state-run media — critical journalists,” as the Committee to Protect Journalists detailed in an August 2012 report. It is a regime that seizes not only television and radio stations, but also banks, oil facilities, cement plants, food factories, sugar plantations, and much else.

The Chávez Legacy in Venezuela

Dead at 58, Hugo Chávez leaves behind a country in far worse condition than it was when he became president, its future clouded by rivals for succession in a constitutional crisis of his Bolivarian party’s making and an economy in chaos.

A former paratrooper, Mr. Chávez had a radical vision for “21st Century Socialism,” which was never fully explained. His skillful rhetoric, which filled supporters with utopian dreams, was used to justify the methodical destruction of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and the free market.
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In an energy-rich country that once knew no blackouts, electrical shortages are frequent, the result of Mr. Chávez’s plundering of the country’s public oil company. In a country that once enjoyed a thriving free market, prices are controlled and food items often scarce.
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For Venezuelans, the worst aspect of the Chávez years was the soaring crime rate. Venezuela has become one of the most violent countries in the world, with nearly 20,000 murders recorded in 2011 and a homicide rate that some experts say is four times greater than in the last year before Mr. Chávez took power.

On the international front, Mr. Chávez eagerly accepted Fidel Castro as his mentor, providing Cuba with cut-rate oil and making common cause with Iran and other rogue regimes. His departure leaves the anti-American front leaderless on a hemispheric level and could eventually threaten the subsidy that Cuba relies on to keep its economy barely functioning.

As a result of all this, Venezuela today is a polarized society divided between the intolerant supporters of Mr. Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution and a democratic opposition that, against all odds, has waged a courageous fight for a democratic alternative

Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and his legacy of plunder

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT).

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