EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 10, 2013

Editorial: Chavez plundered Venezuela for his own benefit

We come to bury Hugo Chavez, not to praise him.

The Venezuelan president, who died last week, was a brutal thug who arrested and jailed those who disagreed with his policies. He was a charlatan who conned his people with revolutionary rhetoric while demolishing democratic institutions to preserve his own political power, all while lining his pockets with the wealth generated by his country’s vast natural resources.

One can judge a man fairly by his friends. Chavez’s were Cuba’s Fidel and Raul Castro, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

So given this track record of political repression, power accumulation, looting of the public treasury and association with the world’s worst dictators, it is only natural that Chavez would be hailed as a champion of “the people” by the eternally gullible American and international left.

Former President Jimmy Carter lauded Chavez for his “commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.” Carter is naive: Chavez was committed to improving no one’s lot but his own.”

After more than a decade of Chavez’s misrule, the lives of ordinary Venezuelans are measurably worse. A nation with the natural wealth of Venezuela and its relatively small population ought to be a land of plenty. Yet the country suffers from shortages of basic goods such as flour and corn meal. Inflation is running at 22 percent and currency devaluations have stripped people of what wealth they had.

This has been the result of socialist experiments throughout history. Yet the delusions continue. “There is no other path to redemption for the human being than socialism,” Chavez said on the 10th anniversary of his regime.

Chavez was also a darling of the Hollywood left. Luminaries such as Sean Penn, Oliver Stone and Michael Moore were eager to praise Chavez.

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