Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is dead.
Because the man represented the kind of totalitarian socialist politics I despise, you won't hear any Chavez compliments here.
Chavez rose to popularity as a socialist champion of the poor. He was a big fan of Fidiel Castro. He liked to say the word "bourgeousie" a lot, as socialists tend to do. The lifeblood of socialism comes from promulgating class warfare, and Chavez played it to the hilt.
What happens when guys like Chavez get into power is entirely predictable. Such "champions of the proletariat" start taking over everything they can take over. They steal everything in sight from the "bourgeousie" (read: anyone who has anything, and especially anyone who opposes them). They centralize power and become autocrats. They stifle freedom of speech. They use their power to stamp out their opposition. Hugo Chavez nationalized huge swaths of the Venezuelan economy. Hugo Chavez controlled the state-run media and closed down opposing media voices. Hugo Chavez used his state-run media to trash his political opponents. Hugo Chavez threw out his country's constituion and implemented a new constitution that allowed Hugo Chavez to consolidate power. This is how autocrats like Chavez win "democratic" elections. The more the media dwindles and is centralized, and the more the people become propagandized, the more democracy is rendered a sham. The Hugo Chavezes of the world are anything but democratic. If they could stamp out all dissent, they certainly would. This is how their socialist "utopia" is ultimately maintained...by eliminating the opposition, by any means necessary.
Chavez loved to hate the United States, who he accused of backing a plot to overthrow him in 2002. He once infamously called George W. Bush the devil during a United Nations speech. He didn't like Barack Obama any better than Bush. Chavez's Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, openly accused the USA of killing Chavez, saying "we have no doubt" that Chavez's cancer was induced by "the historical enemies of our homeland."
Chavez wanted to use the evil USA as a matchstick to inspire a Bolivarian Revolution throughout Latin America. He had some success with it, but in the end I guess the United States just wasn't evil enough for his purposes. America didn't take Chavez's bait. We mostly remained hands off regarding Venezuela. Maybe there's a foreign policy lesson for us to learn there. Sometimes "hands off" is better.
The USA Today probably got it right with an article titled, "Hugo Chavez, A Man Best Ignored". '
Sounds good to me. I've wasted too much time on him already.
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