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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hugo Chavez, R.I.P.

Posted by on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 2:05 PM

The AP just told my phone that Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro says that President Hugo Chavez has died. Chavez was 58, and suffering from cancer.

At the risk of coming off as some sort of commie extremist, I have to say that I kinda admired Chavez. Yeah, he was a bit of an authoritarian, but by historic Latin American standards, not so much. And I didn't agree with all of his actions and policies. But for all his demagoguery he was a man of the people who appeared to have the interests of the people at heart, and not just the interests of the wealthy elite.

Assuming we don't later find evidence of mass graves and massive corruption, I'm guessing history will probably treat Chavez a helluva lot better than the American news media ever did.

 

Comments (94) RSS

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Fnarf 1
Uh, if you're not seeing massive corruption in Venezuela, you're not looking very hard. Chavez was no friend to the poor; in fact, the poor in Venezuela have suffered even more under Chavez than they did under his predecessors. Chavismo is nothing but a lie, a mass of broken promises. Jobs, education, housing, health care -- all of these declined under Chavez, especially for the poor. Under Chavez, your doctor was replaced by a party ideologue, and your teachers taught only the bogus "revolution".

His whole schtick was supported by oil revenues and oil revenues alone.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 5, 2013 at 2:13 PM · Report this
eclexia 2
Who will console Charles?
Posted by eclexia on March 5, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 3
Nobody's seen him in two or three months; I figure he died a long time ago and they just announced it now. Regardless, good riddance.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on March 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM · Report this
4
"But for all his demagoguery he was a man of the people who appeared to have the interests of the people at heart, and not just the interests of the wealthy elite."

So was Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot and Mao. Gotta love good intentions.
Posted by hmmmmm on March 5, 2013 at 2:33 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 5
It must have been difficult for him to gin up anger at the U.S. after we elected Obama.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 5, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Report this
6
Makes you wonder who Fox News is going to demonize next. I'm sure all the mouth-breathers are going to be real riled up over whoever it is, for whatever reason.
Posted by GermanSausage on March 5, 2013 at 2:36 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 7
Chavez was a bastard, but I have to respect anyone with the balls to stand up to the U.S. from time to time.

Also, he had a hell of a voice. Seriously, his speeches are great to listen to if you're trying to practice your Spanish comprehension.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on March 5, 2013 at 2:42 PM · Report this
Fnarf 8
Here's a good look at what Chavez wrought in Venezuela:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/…

Chavez was a total disaster for Venezuela's poor.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 5, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 9
Or you could ignore Fnarf and follow the actual real story at Wikileaks.

Not the same as Wikipedia, aka CIApedia.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 5, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
10
Goldy, this has got the be the dumbest thing to ever come out of your mouth. Did he pay lip service to the ideas you love? Sure. But his extreme incompetence and corruption only ensured that his country and anybody with the slightest clue of what's going on in Venezuela will remain justifiably weary of socialism.
Posted by dak7e on March 5, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 11
I hope he is burning in hell with Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Mudede's dad and the other "socialist" enemies of human freedom and enlightenment.

Now Goldstein admits that "kinda admired" some authoritarian despot. No shit? A socialist who admires a murderer who forced his views up on others, whoda thunk? What next? Are you going to tell us how "guns are dangerous" again captain obvious?
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on March 5, 2013 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 12
@ 4, of that list, I'd only say Mao truly started off with good intentions. Lenin had a pathological hatred for tsarism, and Stalin and Pol Pot were probably psychopaths. Your point stands, but there are real difference between your examples that shouldn't be papered over.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Boos 13
@8 +1 - great article that.
Posted by Boos on March 5, 2013 at 3:08 PM · Report this
14
I agree with your general sentiment, Goldy, but the winners write the history books.
Posted by floater on March 5, 2013 at 3:08 PM · Report this
Fnarf 15
more, from "Arrival City" by Doug Saunders:
They soon realized that the social missions directed at their barrio had not delivered [...] Such long-term investments never became a priority, and, in fact, declined: average per capita levels of public spending on housing dropped by a third between the 1990–98 period (against which Chávez had campaigned) and his own 1999–2004
As for the education programs, these have been shown in extensive studies to have produced no measurable decrease in illiteracy.
What Chávez had done, in essence, was to replace existing state programs with his own “revolutionary” programs, staffed by volunteers and visiting Cuban professionals, and with an ideological, rather than an economic or social, mission. The largest sum of money was spent subsidizing consumption, which did not change the underlying conditions and often replaced programs that might have done so. As a result, rather than improving life, these programs actually caused a sharp decrease in the material conditions of the rural-migrant poor. Between 1999 and 2006, the proportion of Venezuelan families living on dirt floors almost tripled, from 2.5 percent to 6.8 percent; the percentage with no access to running water rose from 7.2 to 9.4 percent; the percentage of underweight babies rose from 8.4 percent to 9.1 percent. Despite the rhetoric, Chávez decreased the proportion of public spending on health, education, and housing compared with the years leading up to his attempted coup. Most tellingly, social inequality actually increased during the years of the revolution, according to the regime’s own estimates.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 5, 2013 at 3:09 PM · Report this
pg13 16
Parador...Parador, I love you...
Hold me forever, this land of the brave and the free.
Posted by pg13 on March 5, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
18
Oy. Call me Gene Sperling, but Goldy, you will rue the day you wrote this.
Posted by oxyala trio http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/bernstein/shadowtime/wb-thesis.html on March 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM · Report this
19
Oh, and you're making progressives look bad. And ignint.
Posted by oxyala trio http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/bernstein/shadowtime/wb-thesis.html on March 5, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Fnarf 20
@9, your best effort yet. Wikipedia = CIApedia! Uh huh. What a winner you are.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 5, 2013 at 3:20 PM · Report this
s.maxim 21
Woah. Well, I guess it was a matter of time. I remember back when he was elected we moved my grandparents out of Caracas up here to Seattle. They hated his guts. I bet my 99 year old grandfather will have a lot to talk about tonight at dinner...
Posted by s.maxim on March 5, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
rob! 22
Fnarf is right on the money, on all counts.

Still, it's worth remembering that Chavez, through the Venezuelan-controlled Citgo and Joe Kennedy II's Citizens Energy Corporation, provided home heating oil to many thousands of low-income Americans for years, which is more than Congress or the executive branch ever did during the same period:

http://venezuela-us.org/2011/01/27/sixth…

http://venezuelanalysis.com/print/5484

Sure, it was a propaganda move for him. Do you think the teeth-chattering classes gave a fuck about that?
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on March 5, 2013 at 3:35 PM · Report this
23
The one-sided picture painted by Fnarf of Chavez's record is clearly not shared by everyone, and I question whether Chavez could get a fair hearing in the US considering the 2002 coup, and relations with the US since.

http://www.cepr.net/documents/publicatio…

http://www.coha.org/hugo-chavez-and-the-…
Posted by anon1256 on March 5, 2013 at 3:42 PM · Report this
24
Since Fnarf appear to have studied the Venezuelan issue quite a bit, he should give us some non-anecdotal references for us to catch up.
Posted by anon1256 on March 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 25
So the Venezuelan elections were rigged? I had been under the impression that it was the country's poor who swept Chavez into office and who turned out for his rallies for re-election.

I am no fan of Chavez - mostly because I didn't now much about him. I do know some people, some Venezuelans whom I respect and admire highly have said fairly recently that Chavez has been a disaster for Venezuela.

I did chuckle at his appearance at the UN when he spoke the day after George W. Remember? September 2006? He said that El Diablo had been there yesterday. He still smelled the sulfur.
Posted by Bauhaus I on March 5, 2013 at 4:01 PM · Report this
Fnarf 26
@24, bleedin' hell, can you not read? There's a cite right there in the comment. Here it is again:

Saunders, Doug (2011-03-22). Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World (p. 216). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

The footnote for the dirt floors etc. is to Francisco Rodríguez, “An Empty Revolution: The Unfulfilled Promises of Hugo Chávez,” Foreign Affairs (Mar./Apr. 2008). The inequality measure is the standard Gini Coefficient, cited by the Venezuelan Central Bank.

There's also the New Yorker article, which is excellent. Complete with link. I urge you to read it. Reporting from the ground is valuable in a country like Venezuela, where truthful statistics are getting harder to come by since the near-total crackdown on information. I've seen GDP numbers, too, but those appear to be little more than a mirror of the world price of oil, and say little about what actually happens with the money.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 27
Pardon me if I put more stock in Oliver Stone's take on Chavez than in Fnarf's...

Oliver Stone's film South of the Border
trailer: http://youtu.be/qoRjmYm6ry4
on Netflix: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/South_…

"Media Misperceptions" (essay accompanying the film)
http://southoftheborderdoc.com/spin-vs-t…

Venezuela: The Spin vs. The Truth

As demonstrated in numerous examples in “South of the Border,” major U.S. media outlets have distorted their audiences’ perceptions of Venezuela and the government of Hugo Chávez. Most media reports on Venezuela frame their stories in ways that are likely to make American audiences distrustful and apprehensive of Venezuela. These frames are reinforced by commonly repeated media myths and inaccuracies that further tend to portray the Venezuelan government as an enemy of the United States, and as an increasingly totalitarian government that is stifling dissent, cracking down on the press, and eroding democratic freedoms. These frames and myths – “spin,” in public relations-speak – overlook an abundance of evidence to the contrary.


Oliver Stone hails Chavez, touts VP as successor
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/art…

US filmmaker Oliver Stone hailed Friday the achievements of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and forecast that his vice president would be elected if the controversial leader dies of cancer.

"I think he's going to be mourned as a national figure, he changed Venezuela forever, you have no idea how bad it was before him," Stone told CNN, about the possibility Chavez may not survive.

Before Chavez, "people were fed up. He represents hope and change, the things that (President Barack) Obama stood for in our country in 2008," he said, adding: "I was very happy that he won the re-election" in October.

The Venezuelan people "want him, he's popular, the people love him, the majority of the people, because the living standards have gone up and that's what's ignored in so much of the reporting on Venezuela."

"I found him to be a magnanimous warm man, big man."


Oliver Stone: Hugo Chavez "extraordinary and warm"
http://www.cnn.com/video/?iid=article_si…

Jimmy Carter says: "Election Process in Venezuela is the Best in the World"
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?opti…

The Real News' coverage of Venezuela and Chavez:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?opti…
More...
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
28
Chavez was made by the 10x increase in crude prices post Clinton.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on March 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM · Report this
ferret 29
Chavez was super super obnoxious. He didn't have to be super obnoxious, but he went out of his way to alienate people. I didn't admire Chavez, given that Caracas become one of the most dangerous city in the world, on par with Ciudad Juarez, it was that bad.

As much I thought the Bush Administration was incredibly stupid in going after Chavez day one into their administration and helping a coup against him in 2003, Chavez acted more like Rep. Steven King and Rep. Eric Cantor than a leader of a nation. He threatened war against Columbia, he harbored FARC terrorists and lied about it.

There was many times he could had made a deal to lessen tensions, but he rather be bellicose than address the big problems in Venezuela, from the out of control murder rate, to the horrible prisons, to the endemic poverty.

RIP. I wish no one to have the sarcoma that Hugo Chavez suffered, but he had a chance to be a pretty good leader, and he blew it.
Posted by ferret http://https://twitter.com/#!/okojo hide on March 5, 2013 at 4:17 PM · Report this
sirkowski 30
I remember a cousin of mine had a conspiracy theory about George W. Bush, Hugo Chavez and Stephen Harper dividing the Americas in three dictatorships. wot? lol
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on March 5, 2013 at 4:18 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 31
@ 27, any fool who puts stock in Oliver Stone's opinion deserves unrelenting ridicule. So it's no surprise that you do so.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
raindrop 32
I suggest Goldy, Charles, and Sean Penn meet up for cocktails and hors de houvers.

Posted by raindrop on March 5, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 33
@31: As per your modus operandi, you have immediately resorted to insults because you are utterly devoid of insight and information.

tWatt From Denver: full of shit, free of facts.
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 4:36 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 34
@27 for the non-CIA-funded win.

Now, there's a drone flying over NYC that nobody knows belongs to anyone, so ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 5, 2013 at 4:43 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 35
@ 33, LOL. I'm sorry if pointing out that the man who made JFK is far from an authority on anything but filmmaking, but that's no more "full of shit, free of fact" than saying the sky is blue, or that humans are natural omnivores.

Anyway, you'd have the moral authority to call me on my less-than-complimentary reaction to you if you had the stones to engage with me when I'm challenging your assertions with facts. But that's when you clam up. You'd also have a leg to stand on if, instead of answering with your own insults, you actually, you know, SHOWED me that you knew what you were talking about. Copying and pasting doesn't do that. That's known as "parroting," which never demonstrates knowledge or comprehension.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 4:47 PM · Report this
bhowie 36
Oh look, Fnarf is full of shit once again. Extreme poverty was reduced by 2/3 and overall poverty was cut in half. I wasn't the biggest Chavez fan but numbers are numbers.
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion…
Posted by bhowie on March 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 37
Oh, and the WiS stamp of approval isn't good for your case, either.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
38
@26 - In addition to Weisbrot, Rodriguez appears to be contradicted by several people on the issue of inequality and poverty, including academics and people in the world bank: http://www.ecineq.org/milano/WP/ECINEQ20…

Weisbrot's criticsm: An Empty Research Agenda: The Creation of Myths About Contemporary Venezuela
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publicatio…

and, it appears Saunders used Rodriguez quite a bit for a book that wasn't specifically about Venezuela.

I personally don't know but I am not entirely sure how one would decide that Rodriguez is right and his critics are wrong.

You are the 2nd person (my wife is the other) who told me to read the New Yorker article. I'll get to it.
Posted by anon1256 on March 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
bhowie 39
And yeah that Oliver Stone movie was terrible on many levels. Also: Will in Seattle--what is the point of you?
Posted by bhowie on March 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
40
I don't care what anyone says. At least Chavez didn't play a role in pulling peacekeepers out of Uganda, didn't start two wars leading to innumerable deaths, didn't set up an alternative to the "citizen" who no longer had any rights, didn't send the Japanese to concentration camps, and... uhm... need I go on?
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on March 5, 2013 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 41
@35: Anyway, you'd have the moral authority to call me on my less-than-complimentary reaction to you if you had the stones to engage with me when I'm challenging your assertions with facts. But that's when you clam up.

Fuck you liar. Pony up some examples or shut the fuck up.
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 42
@ 41, look up any thread in which you bring up veganism and I respond. You can find them by clicking your own link.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 5:02 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 43
Also, look at this own thread. Why haven't you disputed my assertion that Stone isn't a credible source? I gave a good reason for that assessment. You're quick to the stangry insults, but not to answer substantive observations.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 44
@42: Annnnd you lose.

You cite examples of me "clamming up" when you "engage with me when I'm challenging your assertions with facts".

It's your accusation. You prove it.

You fucking pathetic scumbag.
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 45
@ 44, ROFLMAO...
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 46
@43: "Why haven't you disputed my assertion that Stone isn't a credible source?"

This is what you claim is one of the "facts" you've challenged me with? Again, you lose.

"You're quick to the stangry insults"

No, YOU initaited the "stangry" insults. Just scroll up, asshole.

Goodbye.
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 5:09 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 47
@45: tWatt From Denver's link points to this comment of his:

@ 57, what happens to all the feeder animals if we all go vegan?


Remember, tWatt from Denver's accusation in this thread is as follows:

"Anyway, you'd have the moral authority to call me on my less-than-complimentary reaction to you if you had the stones to engage with me when I'm challenging your assertions with facts. But that's when you clam up."

Does ANYONE here think that tWatt's question about "all the feeder animals" qualifies as an example of him "engaging me with facts"?

Anyone? No?

K.
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 48
Oh, ipso. Never change your ways, which include setting up strawmen to knock down, moving the goalposts, answering your own challenges and declaring them met before you hit post, and thinking "tWatt" is actually more clever than "Twat."
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 5:17 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 49
P.S. Your question in that thread was stupid (the notion that one morning everyone will wake up and go vegan all at once is a pointless thought experiment), and within hours of my commenting in that thread, the Newtown massacre occured and no one (including myself) gave a shit about the thread you refer to.
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Goldy 50
Geez... say something not unkind about a socialist, and everybody poops their pants. What a bunch of babies.
Posted by Goldy on March 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 51
@ 49, either it's true that you didn't answer, as I charged, or it isn't. And either you're making a case for the validity of citing Oliver Stone, or you aren't.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 52
@51: You are a troll to the very core.

In this thread you made an accusation towards me. As proof of your accusation, you cited an exchange which bears no resemblance to that which you accused me of. Two points render your example invalid:

1) You claimed that I had evaded your attempts to "engage [me] with facts", yet the example you cited did NOT demonstrate you "engaging me with facts"

2) You claimed that I "clammed up" at this question. Yet the truth is that a momentous event occurred shortly thereafter (the Newtown massacre) and quite obviously this was the reason I did not return to the thread you refer to

You have utterly failed in what you set out to prove. It is truly appalling that you would continue to pursue this. You have sunk even below the already abysmal esteem I held you in, and that is quite remarkable.

I will not return to this thread.
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 5:38 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 53
Errata to my previous post:

Instances of the phrase "engage [me] with facts" (and the like) should read "challange [me] with facts" (as you phrased it in your mendacious accusation).
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 5:42 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 54
@ 52, the news about Newtown didn't break until hours after I posted that response. So give me a break.

You asked me to document my charge, and I've done it. Not just with that one, but on this very thread too. But go on and run away with your tail between your legs and yip that you've won, if it makes you feel better.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 5:44 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 56
@54: You challenged me, and you lost. Dismally.

The proof is all here on this page. I rest my case.

Now you can scramble to get the last word in if that's what your deformed ego needs. Have fun rocking yourself to sleep tonight ;).
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 5, 2013 at 5:49 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 57
@ 56, hey, I'm not the one who keeps saying "I'm done" and keeps coming back. Nor am I the one firing off juvenile insults* while proclaiming intellectual victory. Sounds like projection to me.

* I may have insulted you at the outset, but you couldn't call it "juvenile." Or "stangry," for that matter.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Clara T 59
Wasn't he essentially a Left-Peronist populist grand-stander? At least Eva had a nice ass.
Posted by Clara T on March 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM · Report this
Fnarf 60
@38, if I can get a word in edgewise here in this fight between Matt in Denver and Ipso Facto (in which I have zero interest in wasting so much as a second trying to figure out who's "right" or even what they're arguing about):

That's a good point about Rodriguez. Saunders's book is completely revolutionary and brilliant in so many ways, but it is all about the way cities empower people to move into the middle class. His analysis of Venezuela is entirely focused on how that process has failed in Caracas. He visited the country. But it seems that some of his numbers might be either out of date or based on a biased source (he also cites a different article by Rodriguez and Daniel Ortega (presumably not the Nicaraguan president!).

The citations you provide are pretty encouraging, though I'd like to know more about the poverty figures; the GDP figures, and all the related economic ones, as I said, are easily explained by the price of oil -- when oil is expensive, Venezuela is rich. The question is, how sustainable is that?

The CEPR report by Weisbrot and Johnston shows a big increase in cash payments to the poor. The crux of Saunders's and my argument is that cash payments are not economic development. Notice that in your other report, Lustig/Lopez-Calva/Ortiz-Juarez, other countries in Latin America are making similar or better reductions in inequality in a much different way (they barely look at Venezuela).

Here's another quote from Saunders, about a Chavista neighborhood that turned against him in 2008: "They soon realized that the social missions directed at their barrio had not delivered. While the free food and money brought about a decrease in absolute poverty during the period in which the money was coming, the arrival-city residents complained that nothing lasting was being built."

Another point that Saunders makes, which is not based on the apparently biased and dubious article by Rodriguez, is that much of the spending on programs like education and health care are actually pure waste, going to ideological harangues of a type familiar from Cuba, while ideologically impure doctors and teachers are gotten rid of. Another quote: "The writer Tina Rosenberg, on a visit to a slum near Petare, was surprised to find how Mission Ribas functioned: “Political and ideological training, Ribas officials told me, is the top qualification for a facilitator. I attended a session for new Ribas students in Las Torres, a La Vega barrio near the top of the mountain. After Ribas officials told students how to register for classes and what would be expected of them, María Teresa Curvelo, the district coordinator, began a 90-minute talk about a referendum of great importance to the government." (from "The Perils of Petrocracy", New York Times Magazine, Nov. 4, 2007).

I have also heard anecdotally that medical students in Venezuela, for example, spend hours upon hours being lectured about the glories of the Revolution, which is straight out of the Soviet Union, while the actual amount of education taking place is much lower than before.

Leaving aside the economic statistics, it is indisputable that Venezuela is now the most violent country in South America, with the highest murder rate on the continent, where very few murders are even investigated, let alone solved, where overflowing hellish prisons frequently erupt in riots with huge death tolls, and where infrastructure is crumbling, to the point where "due to deterioration of its refinery system and the vast amount of fuel being smuggled out of the country, the government of President Hugo Chávez has to import fuel and components from the United States."

Anecdotally, I know Venezuelans who have come here to the US, and they are uniformly anti-Chavez -- not conservatives, mind you, just people who recognized that Venezuela has no future besides oil. In contrast, countries like Mexico and Brazil are booming without falling apart at the same time.
More...
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM · Report this
61
Also Goldy: he really didn't like Jews.

http://thkpr.gs/XRueEW
Posted by oxyala trio http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/bernstein/shadowtime/wb-thesis.html on March 5, 2013 at 6:42 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 62
I say good riddance. May me be sipping cold coffee and trying to light cigars that don't burn in Hell, saving a chair for Fidel.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 5, 2013 at 6:49 PM · Report this
Clara T 63
Sure but who does, with their papers, and nited States of America, and that rhyming with canoe thing. Oh, most of reasonable people? Never mind. An as I said, just more evidence of latter-day left Peronism in South American fake-idealist political rhetoric.
Posted by Clara T on March 5, 2013 at 6:52 PM · Report this
Clara T 64
Oh yes and I'm sonewhat super drunkish right now so expect typos a go ga.
Posted by Clara T on March 5, 2013 at 6:55 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 65
@50
You said you admired a fucking brutal dictator, simply because he is a "socialist" who's rule you have no fucking clue about, and lets be honest rarely do you have a fucking clue about any of your topics. This is why you are a sad, aging, single man still bitterly clinging to college leftist politics. Most adults have moved on from the idealist phase in their life, but you instead choose to shit in your diaper and blame it on capitalism. You built your joke of a career on calling people "horses asses." I don't think the Great Pacific Northwest has even known a bigger baby with stinkier diapers, please go back to your smelly east coast authoritarian shithole.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on March 5, 2013 at 7:02 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 66
Oh drat! That should be "May he be ..." instead of 'me' in @62.

But I must admit, that was hilarious!
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 5, 2013 at 7:04 PM · Report this
delirian 67
Fuck Chavez. He was about as smart as a brick, which is why his country was run into shit even when oil prices skyrocketed. The biggest problem with Chavez wasn't his idea of a socialist Venezuela. It was that he needed to create a cult of personality around himself and then reward his loyalists with power (using the Cuba model, but with less bullets). This is why he will always be remembered as a shitty leader and a shitty person. He ran a thug-ocracy. Actually, he had a lot in common with Bush as far as his leadership style--he was the decider and loyalists would be dispatched to attack anyone who didn't agree.
Posted by delirian on March 5, 2013 at 7:32 PM · Report this
Goldy 68
@65 Huh. And yet you're commenting on my posts instead of the other way around. Weird.
Posted by Goldy on March 5, 2013 at 7:58 PM · Report this
69
Honestly, Paul. You write an 800 word fuck you to Gerald Ford when he kicks the bucket, then a nasty one for the Family Circus dude, but Hugo Chavez gets a pass?
Posted by Joe Glibmoron on March 5, 2013 at 8:26 PM · Report this
71
Err, Goldy, I mean. Christ, I'm an idiot.
Posted by Joe Glibmoron on March 5, 2013 at 8:34 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 72
@68
Wow, you commented on my post to tell me you were not commenting on my post, just when I think you can't be a bigger idiot you graduate to a new level of stupidity and cognitive dissonance, congratulations.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on March 5, 2013 at 8:45 PM · Report this
Posted by dj007 on March 5, 2013 at 10:51 PM · Report this
75
@72 You're as much an idealist as Goldy. Just look at how worked up you get defending unfettered gun ownership and capitalism. I'd rather have an idealist working in the interests of humanity than one working in the interests of the plutocracy.

I never followed Chavez much, but I know he had the support of the lower classes, while the upper classes hated him, and that he stood up to an American superpower that has long sucked the juice out of Latin America like a blood gorging leech. There's something to admire in that defiance.
Posted by floater on March 5, 2013 at 11:29 PM · Report this
Goldy 76
@72 Um, hate to burst your bubble, but you are writing comments, not posts. You do not have posting privileges on Slog, I do. You come here to read me—nobody goes anywhere to read you.
Posted by Goldy on March 5, 2013 at 11:44 PM · Report this
79
How about some data, and not just people talking about irrelevant things (like the US):

The Polity IV democracy data (created by political scientists, widely used) looks pretty good for Venezuela post-Chavez, no? http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/ven2…

Oh, wait, no. It's tanked.

World Bank Governance Indicators, like rule of law, control of corruption, and bureaucratic quality? Also completely tanked, though sadly you can't link to individual time series.

Transparency International's Corruptions Perceptions Index? Venezuela ranks 69th right after Chavez takes power... by 2012 it's 165th. http://archive.transparency.org/policy_r…
http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/resu…

He was an ideologue, and a thug. He ran his country into the ground. Redistributing oil money isn't a long-term (or even medium-term) development strategy, and there are entire literatures on the ill effects on development, democracy, and human rights (rentier state, resource curse).
Posted by Madasshatter on March 6, 2013 at 2:53 AM · Report this
Rotten666 80
You know I read this thread, and all I can think is "what a bunch of assholes". Goldy, obviously trolling (see @50), the smug, self righteousness of Fnarf (you win the internet! Congrats?), the ongoing flame wars between probably somewhat normal people, who hurl invective at each other over such varied topics as the Legacy of Chavez or Veganism (?). Insults, stupidity, and gullibility from all sides. I really feel embarrassed for all of you, and more so for myself, for actually taking time out of my analog life to participate in this stupidity for so long.

Rotten666 out.
Posted by Rotten666 on March 6, 2013 at 7:47 AM · Report this
81
I bet this is kinda what the comments on Sound Politics read like when Pinochet died.
Posted by longball on March 6, 2013 at 8:15 AM · Report this
82
@65

"a fucking brutal dictator"

Really, man? Really?
Posted by GermanSausage on March 6, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this
83
I just got back from South America. And here is what I know: While Chavez was not a nice man and only marginally better than is the usual South American strongman leader - he DID improve education and he DID improve health care for the poorest members of his society. These are simple measurable facts. These actual facts are easily found on The Center for Economic & Policy Research (http://www.cepr.net/) and other places if you care to turn off FOX news and look.

Did he just pump in oil money? Yes. So what. Is it long term? Well, let me tell you when your as poor as most Venezuelans you don't have the luxury of thinking that way. And besides NOTHING is long term. What does that even mean? Look at the state of our system and tell me if our economics is "long term."

He wasn't a "dictator" in the sense most people reflexively think. He was elected. though he tossed out observers eventually. Still, even Jimmy Carter thinks at least three of his elections were overwhelmingly honest. There is a free press in Venezuela. And most of it is owned almost exclusively by his political enemies. And for decades they have been mounting a non-stop billion dollar propaganda campaign against him. Yes he shut down a few papers with his thugs. But I'd ask you how long FOX News would remain in operation if they EVERY FUCKING DAY they called for Obama's assassination and violent overthrow? Because that is what media outlets in Caracas we're doing in the early 2000's.

So he was far from good or perfect. But he wasn't an evil dictator, either.
Posted by tkc on March 6, 2013 at 11:12 AM · Report this
84
@79

"World Bank Governance Indicators"

Nuff said
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on March 6, 2013 at 11:39 AM · Report this
Ipso Facto 85
Here are a few more perspectives on Hugo Chavez that dare to diverge from the mainstream narrative:

Disinformation still clouds the US debate on Chávez's legacy in Venezuela
(at The Guardian on 1/9/13)
Despite 14 years of catastrophist predictions for Venezuela, oil wealth has been successfully turned to social purposes

(More at the The Guardian.)

Hugo Chávez Dead: Transformed Venezuela & Survived U.S.-Backed Coup, Now Leaves Uncertainty Behind
(video on Democracy Now! today)

Venezuela's Real Division Over Who Benefits from Oil Wealth
(video at The Real News posted today)

Chavez Democratized Venezuela Making it the Most Equal Country in Latin America
(video at The Real News posted today)

And more at http://www.michaelmoore.com/.

(Yes, yes, I know I said earlier "I will not return to this thread". I misspoke then -- I should have said "I will not reply to the troll again". The above links are relevant to the topic of the thread itself.)
Posted by Ipso Facto http://therealnews.com on March 6, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
86
@84 Uh, yeah, 'cause Danny Kaufman is clearly a free market fundamentalist and/or a "neoliberal." Oh, wait. You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, and saw "world bank" and then your three brain cells rubbed together and voila! you had something you thought was smart/clever/an idea.

You realize he's at Brookings now? That none of the data was collected by the Bank? That the Bank isn't the IMF, and never was?

Nevermind. That would require engaging ideas and not ideology.

Sigh. Arguing on the internet.
Posted by Madasshatter on March 6, 2013 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 87
@56 bleated: "@54: You challenged me, and you lost. Dismally."

This is the funniest and most untrue thing I've read in this thread. That includes the Oliver Stone citation.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on March 6, 2013 at 3:35 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 88
@80 - Cool story bro.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on March 6, 2013 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Lose-Lose 89
I'd like to see a comparison between people's opinions of Chavez, their country of residence and primary sources of information. It's no secret the US hated Chavez (and vice-versa) but one thing I've noted how much:
1) US media follows the US narrative that Chavez was a "horrible despot", etc etc.
2) the US population (including non-citizen residents) believe the US media and think Chavez was a horrible despot, etc etc.

(Obviously the pattern can be seen with Castro, too: the US gov hates him + the US media follows in line = the opinion of the US population that Castro is a horrible dictator, etc etc).

Conversely, the opinion of the rest of the world? Europeans? Latin America?

I mean, I'm not going toe-to-toe with Fnarf; I recognize that Chavez was polarizing, but to say that Venezuela's poor are worse off now and that Chavez did NOTHING good, well, that's just a non-starter. Go have fun with that. And yeah, New Yorker, great news source. Nothing biased there.
Posted by Lose-Lose on March 6, 2013 at 5:37 PM · Report this
90
@89 nothing contradictory between someone being a horrible despot and not doing NOTHING good. The Soviets brought electricity to the whole country, raised standards of living, and built up a good education system. Which is probably why fellow travelers existed. It doesn't then follow that they made things better off.

What the Chavez defenders (and Soviet apologists) don't understand is the basic counterfactual. When looking at what Chavez "did" you can't just compare things in 1998 and 2013. You need a plausible alternative 15 years. So the counterfactual is what would have occurred during 15 years of Chavez rule. Guess what? The functioning Latin American democratic states integrated into the world market in that time period--Chile, Brazil, Argentina--all had more growth over that fifteen year period. Hell, even Columbia did better. And Brazil is an exemplary case of poverty reduction!

Russia did well under Putin as well. Much like Venezuela, they have lots of energy to export. But the counterfactual is important. It's very likely an alternative would have done as/almost as good as Chavez on the things he did well, without dismantling democratic institutions and the rule of law.
Posted by Madasshatter on March 7, 2013 at 2:12 AM · Report this
91
@86

Aww, so naive! Of course there's no way that could leak into the data! I notice how "good" Peru is compared to Venezuela! Boy, if I hadn't, you know, ever been down there I'd buy this bullshit! Bring in companies with no-tax incentives to blow up the sides of mountains and dispossess native Andeans, get in good with the study! Nationalize oil? Screw you!
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on March 7, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this
92
@86

Aww, so naive! Of course there's no way that could leak into the data! I notice how "good" Peru is compared to Venezuela! Boy, if I hadn't, you know, ever been down there I'd buy this bullshit! Bring in companies with no-tax incentives, get in good with the study! Nationalize oil? Screw you!
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on March 7, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
93
@90

>Lose-Lose points out US characterizes as a despot
>Mad compares him to despot
False equivalencies!

"You need a plausible alternative 15 years. So the counterfactual is what would have occurred during 15 years of Chavez rule. Guess what? The functioning Latin American democratic states integrated into the world market in that time period--Chile, Brazil, Argentina--all had more growth over that fifteen year period."

Some would say that the growth in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina wouldn't have occurred had not been for the general unifying movement that Chavez created!

Also, would like data on economic growth not created by the World Bank (because, pay off debt = BAD MAN).
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on March 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM · Report this
94
@93 Who would say that? Given that the countries listed for long periods of time (or ever) in no way followed Chavez's policies, that would be curious. As would the fact that we've seen significant global poverty reduction in the last fifteen years that has no reference to Latin America. Again: give me a plausible counterfactual.

As for data: don't like the Bank data? Get off your ass and look at the data created by Maddison for the Penn World Tables, by the UN, or by someone else. It really only takes a few minutes on google. I provided you with reference to data that is widely used in both the policy and academic realms. You suggest it might be flawed and that you'd like some other data. No one's stopping you from doing some googling. But until you do so, don't pretend "I'd like to see some other data" is anything resembling an argument.
Posted by Madasshatter on March 7, 2013 at 1:03 PM · Report this
95
I don't have much to add here ... but Brazilian ex-prez LULA da SILVA offers a thought-provoking piece from his own perspective in today's NYT.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on March 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM · Report this
96
@91 Right. "Data might be leaked" is your argument. By whom, exactly? Of what sort? I ask because the data you questioned is just a principal components analysis (fancy version of aggregation) of between 60-120 different data points, all of which influence the final score a country gets.

But I guess the scholars who created the metrics before Chavez took power could have foreseen this and created it in a way to bias results against Venezuela!
Posted by Madasshatter on March 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 97
@ 85 - LOL. I knew you couldn't keep away without getting in the last word.

Congrats on including one credible source in your post. That's a great improvement.

Anyway, you do need help with a couple of things.

Troll.

Flaming.

Learn the difference.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 7, 2013 at 2:30 PM · Report this
98
@96

You... You do realized I didn't mean that the, "Data might be leaked". That wouldn't make much sense, now would it? I mean their biases are leaked into the paper. On a basis of neoliberal approved attributes, that everything is privatized, Venezuela might be one of the worst nations on Earth! But, using other attributes, that might change. Cuba leads the US in healthcare but doesn't lead the US on other issues. All of this information is based on presentation. I merely pointed out some obvious bias in your source (bias, I might add, that some would consider the scourge of the world).

"No one's stopping you from doing some googling"
You do realize that its YOUR job to provide evidence for YOUR point, right? Here, I'll give you an equitable argument: The world is flat! Go look it up, idiot!

There, that's the level of your presentation thus far.

"give me a plausible counterfactual."
I would say the article by Lula is an adequate "counterfactual". But, I'd also like to point out that I don't have to put out a "counterfactual". I'm simply saying your "fact" is a slave to your worldview and its your job to defend it, not for me to come up with another!
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on March 7, 2013 at 2:59 PM · Report this
DeaconBlues 99
this thread is a perfect synechdoche for every argument ever had on the internet
Posted by DeaconBlues http://radzillas.blogspot.com/ on March 7, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
102
Hugo Chavez was more than "a bit of an authoritarian." He was a dictator. He took over the Supreme Court, he curtailed the press, and he oppressed his opposition.

No matter what he stood for, or tried to stand for, anyone who does this is a dictator and is far from admirable.

And I'm a lefty, like he was, but I cringe when I see people on my side of the aisle defend thugs like Hugo Chavez.
Posted by Jack Gates on March 8, 2013 at 10:33 AM · Report this
sheepsclothing 103
The Corpo-Fascist Force is strong in these comments... You all should be ashamed to call yourselves 'Democrats', no less 'Progressives'. Shame.
Posted by sheepsclothing on March 8, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this

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