Alas, Hugo Chávez will not live long enough to atone for his abuse of millions of Venezuelans nor to correct the corrupt and destructive policies that have wrecked the country he leaves behind. Moreover, although his cronies and their Cuban handlers are maneuvering to hold on to power, a Chavista succession is neither stable nor sustainable. With more audacious leadership among Venezuela’s democrats and intelligent solidarity from abroad, Chávez’s legacy might be buried with him.
The foundations of Chavismo are being shaken by an impending socioeconomic meltdown, a faltering oil sector, bitter in-fighting in his own movement, complicity with drug-trafficking and terrorism, rampant street crime, the inept performance by Chávez’s anointed successor, and growing popular rejection of Cuban interference, corrupt institutions, and rigged elections. Beset by these challenges and with Chávez no longer at the top of the ballot, the regime will use every advantage to engineer a victory in a special election to choose a new president.
A currency devaluation last month was too little and too late to break the fall of a Venezuelan economy that has been decimated by gross mismanagement, staggering corruption, and policies that were meant to strangle the independent private sector. The Chavista economic team is scrambling to stabilize the economy in advance of the election, but its incompetence is evident as it ratchets up restrictions that will stifle production and commerce. Inflation, food shortages, power outages, and crumbling infrastructure are taking a terrible toll on the quality of life of all Venezuelans.
Unlike in the past, Venezuela will not be saved by a windfall of oil revenues, because production is greatly diminished and oversubscribed. Contrary to official numbers, actual production is 2.4 million barrels per day, far below a peak of 3.3 million before Chávez. And sweetheart deals with China, Russia, and Iran as well as giveaways to Cuba and other client states in the Caribbean and Central America are bleeding Venezuela dry. Although China loaned about $28 billion to Chávez in the last 18 months, Beijing has closed its checkbook because of the questionable legality of the interim regime and the simple fact that Venezuela has no crude oil left to sell. As a result of this mess, there are reports that Venezuela is actually importing gasoline to satisfy domestic demand. In short, Chávez politicized the state-run oil company and treated its revenue as his petty cash fund – now the company is ruined and the till is empty….
Rich Lowry recently “eulogized” the media stronghold regarding Chavez at Politico:
Let us pause and reflect. The left’s favorite self-aggrandizing thug has shed this mortal coil. Hugo Chávez, R.I.P.
All the country’s least reflective and most reflexive ideologues of the left immediately issued warm farewells — Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone and, of course, the nation’s 39th president, Jimmy Carter.
Carter praised Chávez for his commitment “to bring profound changes to his country,” which by installing himself as the effective president for life, he certainly did. Carter noted his “formidable communications skills,” a quality that is not unusual in successful populist demagogues. In the gentle tone of someone who regrets that his good friend sometimes cheats at bridge, Carter allowed that he did not agree “with all of the methods followed by his government.”
Such is the appeal of the socialist caudillo that ThinkProgress had to take a break from blogging about the latest Republican idiocy, real or imagined, to warn off its allies with a piece titled, “Why Democrats Shouldn’t Eulogize Hugo Chávez.”
It didn’t get to New York Rep. José Serrano in time. He rushed to praise Chávez: “He understood democracy and basic human desires for a dignified life.” As a technical matter, Serrano is right: Chávez understood democracy exceedingly well, if by that you mean he understood how to exploit its forms while hollowing out its institutions to entrench himself in power in perpetuity.
He displaced a corrupt, conscienceless oligarchy when he took power in 1999, and replaced it with his own corrupt, conscienceless rule. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch detailed how “the accumulation of power in the executive and the erosion of human rights protections have allowed the Chávez government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute critics and perceived opponents in a wide range of cases involving the judiciary, the media, and civil society.”
The night of his death, Rachel Maddow had Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on her program to discuss Chávez. She asked Robinson in a voice heavy with sarcasm whether Hugo Chávez was really “the monster” he was made out to be. Robinson explained that Chávez bonded with the poor and had lots of popular support. Maddow very gently prodded Robinson to address criticisms of Chávez for not advancing freedom, “even as he did advance economic populist aims.”
Unable to muster any of the denunciatory venom he lavishes on Republicans once or twice a week, Robinson issued forth with a strangely tortured construction, “he was not what we would call a lover of democracy as we would like to see it practiced.” Eric Cantor must wonder why Robinson doesn’t similarly mute his criticisms of him. Robinson noted that Chávez gerrymandered electoral districts, but, hey, “that happens elsewhere as well.” All in all, he was … “a man of contradictions.” You know, like Disraeli or Gladstone.
I have followed the actions of Marxists in Venezuela for quite some time (here as well as at my old blog), and the craziness Hollywood supported Hugo Chavez with. I wish to post again a blogger from Venezuela, and her clear statement of the travesty our Left embraces… from The End of Venezuela As I Know It:
Chavez died today…. When I heard the news, these past fourteen years passed by me in an instant. My adolescence, my youth, all that fear, all that disappointment, all those street demonstrations, all those stories, all those lives that were lost in the way not by cancer but by the sound of a trigger. I wrote to my friends, to all those people who accompanied me during all those years when everything was about Chavez. All those people with frustrated dreams and hopes. Everyone who saw in this fourteen years a definite ruin of what we once called home. Pain, that is Hugo Chavez legacy.
One should keep in mind that this destruction of human life for a “conceived of” utpoia is what the Left will sacrifice. That is, lives for an ideal. Here is an older informal poll showing that Chavez was more popular than Kerry (via Breitbart):
In an informal poll in 2004, the populist progressive site Democratic Underground took a reader poll asking who they respected more: Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez or then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Chavez won, 70% to 30%.
So the type of help needed in South America/Venezuela is not one that will readily coming from our current administration. Another horrible effect of the past election, or mandate — “loss of lives traded for an unproved ideal.” Another “thank you Dems” is needed.
In fact, one of the largest financial supporters to the Democratic Party — the SEIU — held a candlelight vigil for Hugo Chavez:
The SEIU radicals organized a Hugo Chavez memorial march and candelight vigil in New York City on Friday. Global Dispatch reported:
A memorial vigil was held Wednesday at the Venezuelan consulate in Manhattan, but the union march is raising eyebrows.
“Bring candles will walk to the statue of the Liberator Simon Bolivar in Central Park.” – instructions included in the hispanic announcement which reached out to Fidel Castro supporters as well.
A Celebration and procession for the life of our comrade Hugo Chávez, an extraordinary human and revolutionary. Your energy, love and example will not be forgotten.
The revolution will continue until there is liberation for all.
And again, the Marxist/National Socialist connections at he SEIU have been confirmed a long time ago:
I have long contended that the US’s largest and most militant labor organization the Service Employees International Union, is allied to, or subordinate to the country’s largest Marxist organization – Democratic Socialists of America.
Here is proof of this connection, from the latest edition of DSA’s Democratic Left, Winter 2011/2012, page 11
Our goal as socialists is to abolish private ownership of the means of production. Our immediate task is to limit the capitalist class’s prerogatives in the workplace…In the short run we must at least minimize the degree of exploitation of workers by capitalists. We can accomplish this by promoting full employment policies, passing local living wage laws, but most of all by increasing the union movement’s power…
Through SEIU, DSA has 2.1 million paid lackeys to do just that.