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The Death of a Despot

How can anyone still defend Hugo Chávez?

by
Jaime Daremblum

Bio

March 6, 2013 - 4:30 pm
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Then there is the political toll: Venezuela is now an “elected autocracy,” with the central government controlling the courts, the legislature, and the electoral council. The country’s independent media have been hollowed out, and the regime has taken over many radio and television stations. Yes, Chávez technically won reelection back in October. But as Arch Puddington of Freedom House noted, you cannot have a genuinely free and fair election in an environment where the incumbent regime enjoys dictatorial powers. “The results in Venezuela,” wrote Puddington, “were determined by the regime’s actions well before the elections.”

Finally, there is the human toll: Venezuela has experienced a mass exodus of middle-class professionals. According to Matthew Fishbane of Tablet magazine, “Nearly half of Venezuela’s Jewish community has fled from the social and economic chaos that [Chávez] has unleashed and from the uncomfortable feeling that they were being specifically targeted by the regime.” The chaos of Chavismo has also fueled a dramatic rise in violence: Venezuela now has the second-highest murder rate on the planet, and there is no capital city on earth more dangerous than Caracas. Last June, the Caracas-based daily El Universal reported that Venezuela had suffered no fewer than 155,788 homicides since 1999, when Chávez first took office. That would be a shocking number for any country, let alone a country of just 29 million people.

If the Chávez revolution had one positive impact, it was to convince other Latin American nations that autocratic populism was a dead end. Across the hemisphere, in countries large (Brazil), medium-sized (Peru), and small (Uruguay, El Salvador), left-wing leaders have witnessed the madness in Venezuela and have decided to chart a more responsible course. As The Economist pointed out following Ollanta Humala’s 2011 election victory in Peru, Latin America’s “fashionable formula” for governing is the model associated with former Brazilian president Lula da Silva (who served from 2003 to 2011): “economic stability, private investment, and social programs,” all within a democratic framework. Even ex-Chavistas such as President Humala have become advocates of free-market economic policies and democratic rule.

Of course, that is small comfort for Venezuelans, who will be cleaning up the wreckage of Hurricane Hugo for many years to come.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple Shutterstock.com images.)

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Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.

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From the article:

In an article posted on the website of The Nation, NYU professor Greg Grandin acknowledged that Chávez “packed the courts, hounded the corporate media, legislated by decree, and pretty much did away with any effective system of institutional checks or balances.” However, in Grandin’s view, all of that was justified: “The biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough. It wasn’t too much control that was the problem but too little.”

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Well well - insert Obama at each place where 'Chavez' is found - and insert USA where 'Venezuela' is found and what do you have? I suppose the good Professor sees Obama in the same light. "...all of this was justified" he says. The means justify the ends eh Prof?

What a maroon!

These IDIOTS teach our children.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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Have you seen the latest? His minions have now decided to embalm him and put him on display, just like Lenin.

I wonder if this was Chavez' wish or whether his Party has decided this fate for his body? Lenin wanted to be buried but his successors decided that they wanted his body on display....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The big mistake that big-government "conservatives" have always made is to think that no one cherishes his/her families. Of course, like many sociopaths, "conservative" politicians may not care about their own families any more than they care about you and me. If conservatism means anything, it means recognizing that there are actually human beings out there -- not many in DC, of course -- but real live people in fly-over-land who actually love their moms and dads, their kids and even their kittens. This is not a joke.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You may not be joking, but who are these conservtives you are talking about that dont think their are real people in flyover country. If anything that is more of a problem for leftists, who dont recognize flyyover country exists until election time, and tend to view people as special groups to be pandered to, or bribed with handouts, rather than real individuals.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
God picked the wrong tyrant!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...Chávez remained a folk hero to Western leftists and “progressives,” who either ignored or excused his bigotry, his militarism, and his trampling of democracy..."

This what Progressives live for so why are you surprised?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...hated Israel, hated the United States, hated democracy, and favored state control of the economy."

Are we talking about Hugo or Barry here?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"And yet, through it all, Chávez remained a folk hero to Western leftists and “progressives,” who either ignored or excused his bigotry, his militarism, and his trampling of democracy."

Wrong. They embraced those aspects of his politics. They share them. To the extent they were quiet about them is due to their realization that it would be extremely unpopular with the unwashed in the US.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In this era, when viewed through clear eyes, Chavez was an evil damned fascist. Our current President is cut from the same cloth.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I witnessed Mugabe's ruining of the Zimbabwe economy and recognized Chavez as following a similar path of total economic destruction. Venezuela has gotten off lightly - Mugabe is still alive.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In a different era, he might have been called a fascist. /blockquote>

In a different era, our President would be accurately seen as a fascist.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Gullible Kennedies,Chaves got them cheap! But they were on the same train anyway.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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