Hugo Chávez: So Good or No Good?

Hugo Chávez

As Venezuela bids farewell to their controversial leader Hugo Chávez, the rest of the world weighs in on his mixed legacy.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua confirmed that yesterday that Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez had died. Chávez, the larger-than-life former paratroop officer who had presided over Venezuela as virtually a one-man show for more than 14 years, had been battling cancer and had recently been weakened by a severe, new respiratory infection.

Chávez entered the Venezuelan political scene in 1992 as the leader of a failed military coup and after making the transition from soldier to politician, became president in 1998.  His legacy since then has been… mixed.

To his many supporters he was a reformer whose eccentric brand of socialism stuck it to the political elite and gave hope to the poorest of Venezuelans. Indeed, conditions for the poor have improved over the last decade and a half, although this might be a greater reflection of oil prices than Hugo Chávez’s leadership…

However, the majority of the Western world is not quite such a fan of Chavez.  In addition to clamping down on human rights and democracy in Venezuela, Chávez funded guerrilla groups and allied with Western rivals, and worked closely with Cuba to spread his socialist model throughout the region.

Other fun nuggets include:

  • He praised and supported FARC, the terrorist organization operating in neighboring Colombia.
  • He saw in the madness of Col. Gaddafi an often overlooked “brilliance”
  • He considered terrorist Carlos the Jackal, who praised the 9/11 attacks from his French jail cell, “a good friend.” (he’s starting to sound like Dennis Rodman here…)

Will Chávez’s death bring a more promising future for the people of Venezuela? Not if Hugo Chávez has anything to do with it! The Venezuelan president made sure to name his own successor. Vice President Nicolas Maduro (not the speaker of the National Assembly as the Consitutuion dictates), will run Venezuela as interim president for up to 30 days and be the governing socialists’ candidate when a formal election is called. Maduro, who hours before the president’s death, accused the country’s “historic enemies” of infecting Hugo Chávez with cancer, sounds like a great candidate who is rooted in reality  a little insane….

Via: The New York Times

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