Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Dead Tyrants Day

Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, died today after a long battle with cancer.  Surprisingly March 5 is the anniversary of the death of Joseph Stalin, who died 60 years ago.  Like his predecessor ( in death) Chavez was a tyrant who helped to wreck his country's economy.  He also did His best to destroy civil liberties in the country.  The Bolivar (currency) was recently devalued and there a massive food shortages in the country.

Chavez started in the military.  He thought of himself as a natural successor to Simon Bolivar but his model of rise to power and governance was a lot more like Stalin.   At the end of his life Stalin obsessed about plots to poison him - as recently as a week ago Chavez's VP expelled two US diplomats and claimed that the US was trying to poison the President.  That was he same VP who claimed that Chavez had held a four hour cabinet meeting a couple of weeks before.

Stalin, you may remember, once said "It is enough that the people know there was an election.  The people who cast the votes decide nothing.  The people who count the votes decide everything."  Chavez tried at least two attempts a coups before he was elected.  But once elected he used the Stalin principle with vigor.  But as his reign continued he expanded his powers, fomented a couple of petty tyrants in other South American countries and generally tried to repress those who opposed him.

Venezuela was once a thriving country, but like his most admired regime (besides his own of course there was Cuba) he made quick work of turning the country into a basket case economically.  I heard a lot about Chavez in Mexico when he tried in the 2006 election to change the outcome.  Fortunately for Mexico, Chavez and his candidate failed.

Stalin had one other aphorism that might be appropriate.  Stalin said "Death is the solution to all problems.  No man - no problem."   Unfortunately, even with Chavez's passing the problems facing Venezuela will be hard to eliminate quickly.

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