|The pupil and his master in 2009|
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.Sound familiar?
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.
Shortly after coming to office, he rewrote the constitution to his liking and aggressively set out to rig elections and stifle adversaries in the legislative branch and the courts. Unable to brook criticism, he turned his fire on the independent news media, eventually silencing most voices of opposition by bully tactics and economic intimidation.
His Bolivarian regime rewarded supporters and punished opponents, giving rise to enormous corruption and the creation of a new class of greedy oligarchs with political connections. Unfortunately for Venezuela and for all his political skills, the president was both an incompetent executive and a worse economist.
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.
At the Daily Beast Michael Moynihan had this to say:
His was a poisonous influence on the region, one rah-rahed by radical fools who desired to see a thumb jammed in America’s eye, while not caring a lick for its effect on ordinary Venezuelans. In his terrific new book (fortuitously timed to publish this week) Comandante: Hugo Chávez's Venezuela, The Guardian’s Rory Carroll summed up the legacy of Chávez’s Venezuela as “a land of power cuts, broken escalators, shortages, queues, insecurity, bureaucracy, unreturned calls, unfilled holes, uncollected garbage.” One could add to that list grinding poverty, massive corruption, censorship, and intimidation.Chavez was a friend of every vile thug on the planet. From Saddam Hussein to Muammar Gaddafi, Robert Mugabe, Bashar al-Assad and Iran. The bottom line? If they hate the West Chavez loved them. No wonder he was such a darling for self loathing left wingers in the United States!
This was Chávez’s reign and his legacy; extralegal, vindictive, and interested in the short-term gesture rather than the more difficult, long-term solution. From his revolutionary comrades in Cuba, he borrowed the slogan “patria, socialismo o muerte”—fatherland, socialism or death. The fatherland is a shambles, Bolivarian socialism has failed, and Comandante Chávez is dead. May the “revolution” die with him.
Moynihan described Chavez's handpicked replacement as having all the charm of East Germany's former leader Erich Honecker. With Chavez out of the way there is every hope that the last vestige of his corrupt and incompetent regime will die with him and restore hope to the Venezuelan people.
One day the American people will go through the process of de-Obamafication. Perhaps Venezuela will show us the way!