What Has Hugo Chávez Done for Venezuela Lately?

The Venezuelan strongman has been annoying for our country, and a lot worse for his own.

Hugo Chávez’ presidency has been a disaster for the Venezuelan people. Chávez’ "Socialism of the 21st Century" changed Venezuela from one of the most prosperous and politically free countries in Latin America to one of the least competitive and most repressive countries worldwide. Venezuelans who go to the polls today will ponder many of the President’s policy failures, including a long list of Chávez’nblunders in the last year alone.

Under Chávez’ rule, oil-rich Venezuela has become one of the least economically competitive countries in the world. In 2012, the country ranked 126 of 144 in a study by the World Economic Forum. According to the report, Venezuela now has some of the lowest scores worldwide in functioning of public institutions, trust in the justice system and domestic competition. It has some of the highest scores in terms of regulation, trade tariffs, and rules that deter foreign investment. The country has an inflation rate of 26 percent, and has also suffered several food shortages this year.

Venezuelan infrastructure has been falling apart under Chávez. On August 15th, the Cupira bridge near Caracas collapsed despite repeated warnings from engineers that it was in disrepair. Last month, poor drainage infrastructure led to nationwide flooding, resulting in over 400 families losing their homes and 1,500 people ending up in shelters. Chávez also mismanages Venezuela’s oil wealth. Since the government effectively took control of the national oil company in 2004, it has become much less efficient and production is 25 percent lower than when Chávez took office. Accidents are common—an offshore oil rig sank into the sea in 2010 and an oil refinery explosion in August killed at least 48 people. Despite sitting atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela now imports and rations gasoline.

According to USA Today, Venezuela has the fourth highest murder rate in the world and is now the most violent South American country. Between the time Chávez took power in 1998 and 2012, kidnappings have risen from a few hundred annually to a record of 16,000 in 2011. Homicide rates have nearly tripled and suspect arrests have fallen by 61 percent. Only eight in every 100 murder investigations lead to an arrest. Murder of police officers has risen by 45 percent  in the last year alone. Violence is much worse for Venezuela’s inmates despite Chávez’ campaign promises of prison reform. A prison riot on August 24 left 26 people dead and 43 injured after inmates took over the compound and held it for four hours. Venezuelans are 20 times more likely to be killed in penitentiaries than outside of them. More than three hundred people have died and 572 have been injured in Venezuelan prisons this year alone.

Venezuelans have also witnessed alarming revocations of political liberties during Chávez’ presidency. On September 10th, Chávez decided to withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He regularly targets media who expose his failures. He recently arrested two journalists for writing a satirical article about his leadership. In addition, he demanded the names of voters who participated in the opposition’s primary election last February, just as he did to those who unsuccessfully voted to remove him from office in 2004. Chávez has banned foreign funding for civil society watch dogs, which will make electoral transparency in upcoming elections difficult.

While Chávez may be a popular figure amongst many Venezuelans and even some Westerners, his policies speak for themselves. Hugo Chávez’ leadership has made his country less prosperous, more dangerous, and much more repressive. Venezuelans who care about liberty and human rights will hope to see Chávez defeated in today's presidential election.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    While Chávez may be a popular figure amongst many Venezuelans and even some Westerners, his policies speak for themselves.

    Why do so many voters make so many choices that are ultimately bad for them? We're told that here in the United States people don't make choices at the polls based primarily on personal benefit. I find that dubious and I really wonder if it's not the case in Venezuela. Chavez's socialism has apparently given the poor the appearance he is helping them, and with no one to report to the people the opposite is true, he may get another term today. Class envy could win again.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    To be sure Chavez also uses state controlled press, violence, suppression of dissent and such, too.

  • PapayaSF||

    I figured out long ago that there were bright and stupid and educated and uneducated people on all sides of any political question. I concluded that politics was more a matter of emotion rather than reason. The left's great advantage is that, in our more feminine modern age, their basic message of "being nice to people" sells. The fact that socialism doesn't really work is irrelevant, because good intentions trump all.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Yep.

    Politics is about self identification and emotion, not reason or results.

  • PapayaSF||

    And part of the irony is that leftists congratulate themselves on their superior grasp of "reason" and "logic" and "science," while gathering in a tribe in which they pat each other on the back.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    There's also the problem that socialism isn't actually nice to people.

  • PapayaSF||

    Well, it's nice for some at the top and bottom, but bad for everybody who's left.

  • Lisa||

    "being nice to people" wouldn't be so bad if they didn't claim to have a monopoly on it, despite the fact that they donate to charity far less than "evil" conservatives.

  • ||

    This is the puzzle for me. Despite this, and many many other examples of socialism being an abject failure, people still buy into it.

    On the single fact that obama buys into it I judged him to be a moran ( dude needs to get a brain!) right off the bat. I was told by many acquaintances and by the msm that no, he is in fact a genius. Oh, and that he is a good man (always said in a soft fawning voice with eyes glazed over ). Good man my ass. How many people have been murdered in the name of estblishing socialist utopias?

    Why is it so hard for people to accept that good is good and bad is bad? Success is good. Wealth is good. Happiness is good. Healthy is good. victory over disease and poverty is good. Liberty is good.Tolerance is good. I just dont understand the mentality of anyone who argues otherwise.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I can only think of two reasons - some people crave being told what to do, some people crave to tell others what to do - add them up and you get statists/socialists/totalitarians.

  • ||

    Liberty is good.

    Taken in moderation.

  • ||

    Taken in moderation.

    Says the socialism-attacking pirate.

  • ||

    Perhaps I should have posted as such:

    Liberty is good.

    Taken in moderation.

    /The Teams

  • ||

    The pirate was Ragner Danneskold. Francisco was the copper baron.

  • cryptarchy||

    Flame Darius for not making the proper Atlas Shrugged ref. lol

    Elitism FTW!

  • ||

    Dangit. You're right, I got them mixed up. I should've said the socialism-hating millionaire.

  • ||

    If it's any consolation, when choosing a moniker (on another site), I tried Ragner first but it was taken.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Human nature lends itself to statism, and democracy in particular lends itself to the socialist variant of statism. Liberty is counterintuitive and hard to trust; even to me it makes no sense that some things work better when no one is in charge. I mean, I know it works and I know the explanations, but it doesn't feel right and has never felt right.

  • ||

    Wierd. It feels right to me. On the few occasions where I have been in a situation where someone tried to inject "leadership" over a group project, it felt creepy and wrong.
    Of course, many people were perfectly comfortable and went along with it, but I always found it completely impossible not to resist. Which generally led to me not being involved in the group project anymore.

  • WWNGD?||

    What is important is the Chevez, his family, his cronies and Sean Penn have lived a good life with Chevez's socialism.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And the petty officals, goons, neighborhood Bolivarian committee types all get theirs too.

  • thom||

    It says something that Chavez is in real danger of losing an election that has likely been heavily rigged in his favor.

  • cw||

    Maybe the Venezuelan public finally tires of his populism.

  • ||

    It is true that Hugo Chavez has done very little for Venezuela, if we look at it from the perspective of rich Venezuelans. How about changing your perspective and look at it from the perspective of majority, poor and not wealthy Venezuelans. For example poverty and extreme poverty has been reduced noticeably, higher education has been made available for many more people and unemployment is lower.

  • cw||

    Corruption on all levels does not make poor Venezuelans richer. Insecurity in property and speech rights does not make them wealthier.

    Sorry, you should look from the perspective of reality.

  • ||

    It was not Chavez who tried to overthrow democratically elected president leading to some limitation of speech rights.

    Insecurity in property has no meaning to those, who do not have any property anyway. It has meaning only for those who managed to steal enough before Chavez and are now afraid that they will lose it.

    Corruption has been there before Chavez. I agree that he should do more to get rid of it.

  • cw||

    Of course corruption existed before Chavez. Venezuela, like virtually every country, has never been a bastion of freedom. Why would you believe Chavez would reduce corruption if he's only made it worse?

    Shutting down media critical of Chavez is all his doing. You can't say those before him did that.

    Insecurity in property absolutely has meaning. How does one sustainably acquire wealth without them? Without having to rely on the black market?

  • ||

    Worsening of corruption during Chavez does not mean it has been his goal.

    How many other countries would allow media that supports overthrowing democratically elected president? In most countries those would be shutdown and people responsible would be in prison.

    First solve problem of poverty and then turn on property. Most of people have to get out of poverty before they can think about acquiring wealth.

  • cw||

    Acquiring wealth is how one gets out of poverty.

    I can't believe you would defend Chavez shutting down media which critique his administration. And yes, worsening of corruption comes from an economy which increasingly relies on the central government - Chavez has made this worse.

  • ||

    I can't believe you do not condemn coup instigators. It is little bit more than just critique of administration.

    I agree that Chavez has relied too much on the central government. He should have moved more strongly towards workers ownership in economy and away from state ownership. This would have helped to solve corruption problems, but of course raised anger from his right-wing opponents.

  • Bedonkedonk||

    Holy crap, a real live Chavez defender.
    Didn't think they were real.
    I thought they were just made up people, like Sean Penn.

    "He should have moved more strongly towards workers ownership in economy and away from state ownership. This would have helped to solve corruption..."

    This made me almost spit out my coffee and lol.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Holy crap, a real live Chavez defender.

    Didn't think they were real."

    Listening to the defenders of Chavez' nationalization program really isn't that much different from listening to the defenders of Obama's nationalization of GM.

    It's pretty much the same thing, and it's not just me that thinks so. So does Hugo Chavez.

    "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right."

    ----Hugo Chavez, June 2, 2009

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....GX20090603

  • ||

    Someone had to be devil's advocate. How boring would have it been else with everyone just bashing Chavez.

  • ||

    For me the coffee spit moment was this one

    "Most of people have to get out of poverty before they can think about acquiring wealth."

    That one stands on its own, no comment necessary.

  • cw||

    I wonder who gets to decide who is a worker and who is not. All bets are on it being the state; anyone who claims to want workers "owning" the economy either hasn't reached that claim's logical conclusion, or really does prefer state control over market (societal) control.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I can't believe you do not condemn coup instigators. It is little bit more than just critique of administration.

    You mean like Hugo Chavez?

  • Sevo||

    jmaaninka| 10.7.12 @ 10:38AM |#
    "Worsening of corruption during Chavez does not mean it has been his goal."

    Right. 'He means well'.
    Same, tired, lefty crap.

  • Sam Grove||

    They just don't comprehend the sociopath problem. Maybe just a lack of self awareness.

  • ||

    "First solve problem of poverty and then turn on property. Most of people have to get out of poverty before they can think about acquiring wealth."

    Wow. I am not sure what to say about that. I am sitting here wondering if you are able to dress yourself.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Worsening of corruption during Chavez does not mean it has been his goal.

    Whether it was his "goal" or not is irrelevant--if it happened under his watch, in an environment where he has nearly autonomous control over several areas of the Venezuelan government, economy, and media, then the corruption is most assuredly his fault.

    Maybe you should drop your obsession with rich people's money and stop trying to make society pay for your daddy issues.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Worsening of corruption during Chavez does not mean it has been his goal.

    "I only meant to throw that brick. I didn't mean for it to hit you in the head."

    And yet, harm occurred. Interesting how that works. You can harm people without ever intending to do so. Almost as if reality functions independent of your wishes.

  • Ted S.||

    Foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

    Isn't there a law made out of molybdenum or something about this?

  • ant1sthenes||

    You can't solve poverty without property, because property gives people a personal reason to give a shit about use of resources.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    It was not Chavez who tried to overthrow democratically elected president leading to some limitation of speech rights.

    Speech rights are more important than democratic elections. Democracy without liberty is just another form of tyranny.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "It was not Chavez who tried to overthrow democratically elected president leading to some limitation of speech rights."

    . . . except for that time in 1992, where he tried and failed to do exactly fucking that.

  • hotsy totsy||

    WHAT??? Chavez led a coup in 1992 and when he got out of jail early, in 1996, ran for president. Do you know anything at all about Venezuela?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "For example poverty and extreme poverty has been reduced noticeably, higher education has been made available for many more people and unemployment is lower."

    There has been some inertia in certain measures over the course of Chavez's reign, but I'm not convinced those gains are all attributable to Chavez.

    Over the past 12 years, things have been getting better for the extreme poor in various places all over the world, and nowhere else in the world does that have anything to do with Chavez. I'm not convinced Chavez' program hasn't hurt as much or more than it helped.

    I also question the sustainability of Chavez' programs. There isn't anything new or innovative about nationalizing industries, and there isn't any reason to think that strategy won't end in tears under Chavez just like it did everywhere else. Nationalizing the oil industry might be sustainable enough--but what about all the other stuff he's nationalized?

    Sustainable growth requires innovation and investment. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor might make the poor better off for a little while, but there is no way that program can lead to sustainable growth over the long term.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's just like Cuba, really. Given technology gains; the people of Cuba's own ingenuity, hard work, etc., the extreme poor in Cuba may be better off now than they were back in the '50s before Castro took over. But is there anyone out there who really thinks the Cuban people wouldn't have been better off economically without Castro's programs?

    There's a reason why the poor of Cuba dream of fleeing. Venezuela having an oil industry may make things a little easier for them, but it won't be enough to stop the poor of Venezuela from meeting the same fate as the poor people of Cuba--if they continue down the road they're on.

    How can anyone champion a system like Cuba's for the poor when many among Cuba's poor have thrown themselves into the ocean rather than remain trapped in Cuba for one more day?

  • cw||

    Standard leftwing retort: Those Cuban exiles are just reactionaries bent on throwing Cuba back to the Batista days of inequality and unfree health care.

  • ||

    But is there anyone out there who really thinks the Cuban people wouldn't have been better off economically without Castro's programs?

    Unfortunately, yes. I've read people on Facebook pages (ones related to capitalism; they get arguments a lot) say that Cuba is one of the most prosperous nations on Earth with better health care and standard of living than the U.S.

    I've also heard the claim (from a different person) that the only Reason people immigrate to the U.S. is because we've made everywhere else worse off. Somehow.

    The ignorance is astounding.

  • PapayaSF||

    Before Castro, Cuba was the wealthiest country per capita in Central and South America. Now it's the poorest.

    One argument that astounds me is the "Cuba is poor because of the US embargo." If only the big meany capitalist next door would practice capitalism with them, socialism would succeed!

  • cw||

    The irony should slap Castro apologists in the face.

    They also neglect to mention that other countries trade with Cuba. And even with the embargo, some U.S. goods manage to make their way into Cuban homes.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I talked to somebody a week ago who said-I fuck you not-that her aunt or whatever travelled to Cuba and was so impressed by their healthcare system that she wanted to stay. What do you say to that? What internet links should I give her? Would it have been so wrong to punch her in the face, keeping in mind that when I asked 'what about the people leave Cuba on boats if given half a chance?', her retort was 'what about the ones who stay?' Again, I fuck you not.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Is she aware that the locals aren't allowed access to the hospital facilities she used?

    Those facilities are saved for people who have ties to the ruling class--and foreign tourists who pay in U.S. dollars.

    They're starved for currency over there.

    I'm sure they gave her the whole Potemkin tour--those facilities she went to are off limits to regular Cubans, and if she's become an apologist for a totalitarian regime that would keep those facilities off limits for everyone except the elite and foreign tourists, then she should be ashamed of herself.

  • Cytotoxic||

    This bitch thinks Russia Today is 'independent media'.

  • ||

    Well she's right. The questions is, "Independent from what?"

  • ||

    "Would it have been so wrong to punch her in the face....?"

    It is very very wrong that you did not.

  • ||

    "For example poverty and extreme poverty has been reduced noticeably,....."

    If by 'reduced noticeably' you mean increased, then I would have to agree.

    "....higher education has been made available for many more people and unemployment is lower."

    If by 'higher education' you mean propagandizing for the purposes of developing the cult of chavez, then again, I would agree. Also, if unemployment numbers are lower according to chavez, then sure, thats true too.

    ( somehow unemployment is lower here too, despite more people than ever not working. )

  • Ken Shultz||

    Extreme poverty under Chavez has gotten better by a number of measures under Chavez' term.

    http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=vev=69

    GDP per capita is up, too.

    http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=vev=67

    If I were to rob a bank safe tomorrow (and get away with it) my personal GDP would improve dramatically. Whether that's a sustainable economic model is another question entirely, and if you want to compare Venezuela to similar countries over the same period, I believe Venezuela has fared worse...

    Why not compare Venezuela to Brazil?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Hate it when the links don't work!

    From the first link, use the pull down menu to select "Economy: Population below poverty line" and match it up to Venezuela.

    From the second link, use the pull down men to select "Economy: GDP - per capita (PPP)" and match it up to Venezuela.

    Just like in the U.S., there may have been some economic growth in the U.S. over the last four years under Barack Obama, but I defy anyone to explain how Barack Obama's programs are in any way responsible for that growth.

    I say the same thing about Venezuela. Things have improved for the extreme poor in China and Brazil, too, over the past 12 years--and none of that is attributable to Chavez or his programs.

  • cw||

    I defy anyone to explain how Barack Obama's programs are in any way responsible for that growth.

    As Tulpa wrote above, human nature seems inclined to statism; how can an "unorganized" system of random strangers possibly coordinate anything as complex as an economy? That takes wise, powerful men and women to dictate. Therefore, Obama's programs must be responsible for GDP growth.

    How could uneducated, unwise people really know what's best for them? It only makes sense to force people to conform to what the philosopher-kings envision as unarguably the highest form of human civilization, whatever that may be.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    It is interesting that the same people who mock creationists or intelligent designers turn around and embrace central economic planning.

  • cw||

    They tend to mock faith in general, yet they won't acknowledge that their ideology, like any ideology, carries faith-filled assumptions about the world. I'd say they are truly the "faithful," as their ilk have tried central economic planning around the world with disastrous effect. So-called results-oriented progressives clearly aren't bound by the results of their experiments.

  • MWG||

    Oh sure, the poor may be moving from class E to D as they are in MOST of the world, but its not at the expense of the rich as they continue to do pretty well under Chavez (crony capitalism has always been good for the rich). It's at the expensive of the middle class who have seen their hard earned 'wealth' diminished by inflation to the tune of 20% since Chavez took power.

    Taking from some (mostly the middle class in this case) to give to others is definitely NOT a sustainable economic model as has been seen in countless examples.

  • hotsy totsy||

    That is, 20% per YEAR since Chavez took power. I've seen sickly looking tomatoes for the equivalent of $4.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "For example poverty and extreme poverty has been reduced noticeably"

    You're either lying, or parroting misinformation. Either way, ypu're not very good at it.

  • cw||

    In a nutshell, Chavez uses the tried-and-true tactic of making/keeping most Venezuelans poor while blaming their situation on "greedy capitalists," the worst of whom can be found in the U.S. Maybe, just maybe, a majority of Venezuelans will finally reject him and his corrupt administration.

    I feel that Chavez should be a wake-up call for anyone who believes the rule of man is supreme to the rule of law.

  • ||

    Chavez seems to be doing badly in trying to keep most Venezuelans poor, as poverty has been reducing during his presidency.

  • cw||

    He's relied on distributing oil rents to the public. I'm sure that's very popular, although it makes for a very unstable political economy.

    And when other negative statistics, like the murder rate, have risen exponentially under his leadership, it makes me wonder why there are so many people outside of Venezuela who support him. Why do you trust so much political power in a single man?

  • ||

    Maybe you should look more what his opponents are doing, and then you find out why murder rate is raising and why political power has been concentrating on Chavez. If you are ruling a country whose rich elite tries to get rid of you, it is not easy job.

    There still seem to be many people also in Venezuela who supports Chavez.

  • ||

    jmaaninka - How does it feel being an apologist for a murderous thug?

  • ||

    I still think he is better than his opponents. They have not been any less murderous thugs.

  • ||

    If by better you mean exponentially worse, then I suppose you are correct.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Oh, really? Who has Chavez's political opponent, Caprilles, murdered?

    You have no idea what the hell you're talking about.

  • ||

    "....look more what his opponents are doing..."

    Ooooh. Now it all makes sense. It is his opponents fault, just like everything obama does is bush's fault, or the republicans fault. I get it now.

    This is just you saying 'Look what you made me do!' on chavez's behalf.

    Fuck you.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Maybe you should look more what his opponents are doing, and then you find out why murder rate is raising and why political power has been concentrating on Chavez.

    So people opposed to Hugo Chavez are out committing murder? Interesting.

  • ||

    That's why he wants those voter names, you see. The people who vote against him are out murdering people, making him look bad. Chavez just wants justice.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    He's relied on distributing oil rents to the public.

    And even that wouldn't have worked without oil prices going through the roof since 2005.

    Chavez is the Tim Tebow of Latin American dictators.. his supporters can't point to any specific things he's done well, but instead point to results that are more likely resulting from other factors.

  • cw||

    Yep. That's what makes the Venezuelan economy fundamentally weak - it almost entirely relies on one source of production. Coupled with increasing statism and all its clientelistic glories, Venezuela is pretty much an economic basket case.

  • Oso Politico||

    Lest we forget, Venezuela was not all rum and coconut water before Chavez.

    The 'ruling elites' consistently plundered public monies - oil revenues - and maintained a strangle hold on political offices. Poverty was rampant.

    If anyone is to blame for the rise of a demagogue like Chavez, it is those very same people.

    I wish Capriles all of the very best, but even if he wins, he will probably lose - Venezuela is almost a basket case.

  • cw||

    This is all true. The Pacto de Punto Fijo institutionalized two-party rule, and the party bosses and the presidents they picked built up the rentier economy based on oil. Chavez replaced the two-party stranglehold with his own autocratic will but kept relying on oil to buy support. Venezuela's political economy has been completely fucked up by the patron-clientelism of oil rents from both sets of government.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I read an archived Cato article from 1996. It talked about how Venezuela had been left behind by the economic reform wave that had come to the other LA countries and helped them. That paper explicitly predicted a populist strongman would overturn the corrupt 2-party duopoly within 10 years. Eerily prescient.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It should also be said that...a couple of things seem very unlikely to me.

    1) That Chavez would allow someone to defeat him in an election.

    2) Even if Chavez did somehow allow himself to lose an election, that he would just leave office quietly.

    He just doesn't have it in him to leave quietly.

  • cw||

    We all know he would stay because he has to lead the country! And who better than someone who has had the reigns of power for a decade and a half? You can't leave big things like democracy and liberty to willy-nilly small timers. You need a powerful man to set things right!

  • PapayaSF||

    He could also die in office. He's not looking real healthy.

    Speaking of which, something OT: There are rumors circulating in the undernews that Obama's debate performance was due to health issues. The speculations are drug withdrawal, Parkinson's, and/or AIDS.

  • cw||

    The simplest explanation for Obama's poor debate performance: cockiness makes one careless.

  • PapayaSF||

    Well, heck, if you're going to go all Occam's Razor, then you'll never have fun reading conspiracy theories. What about his gaunt look, tight clutch on the pen, blinking, dilated pupils, looking away from the lights, and the fact that he's never released his medical records??1!?

    Actually I think there are many explanations. He knows that his economic policies have failed and has a hard time defending them. He was never that good without a teleprompter. He's been in a bubble of sycophants and friendly media and never had to deal with tough attacks. He likes the perks and glamour of being President, but doesn't like the work. Romney is the successful and traditional father he never had and always wanted.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    That's some pretty serious bullshit, Papaya. If you're going to spread made-up shit like that, Red State is around the corner.

  • PapayaSF||

    Lighten up, Tulpa. It's from hillbuzz.org, if you care.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    I've been assured Reptilians don't get sick

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Methinks you're right. Chavez has been making bullying statements that the rich and middle class should support him if they don't want a civil war on their hands.

    (Link in Spanish)

    http://www.entornointeligente......erra-civil

  • ||

    GMTA.

    On the other hand, he has been ill recently.

    That tells me there's maybe a 5% chance he might lose and go quietly.

  • Lyle||

    When is Chavez ineligible to run again?

  • cw||

    Never. A plebiscite voted to end presidential term limits back in 2004, I think. With Chavista cronies propagandizing, of course.

  • Lyle||

    So he needs to die before losing power probably. Great.

  • cw||

    What's worse than that is the institutional legacy he will leave behind as the result of his administration - a burgeoning state fueled by unreliable oil exports, along with petty corruption of individuals in Venezuelan society. This was the case before Chavez, but I believe he's made those institutional factors even worse.

    Autocratic government seems to last a while, before some other form of statism comes along to take its place. That's the real tragedy of Venezuela compared to, say, Chile.

  • PapayaSF||

    Plus, of course, the inertia of more and more people getting government handouts of one sort or another.

  • Lyle||

    Definitely.

  • hotsy totsy||

    First big problem is runaway crime. Ordinarily I'm not a law and order type person, but crime is REALLY out of hand.

    Not so fun fact: Over 500 murders in Venezuela prisons last year.

  • PapayaSF||

    And apparently only something like 12% of murders lead to an arrest.

  • Cytotoxic||

    If cancer doesn't do it, there are other ways...

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Why would anyone care about this election? From what I've been told by several libertarians, all candidates ever in a two-party system are exactly the same, after all.

  • ||

    Does anyone seriously think this guy, who has used every authoritarian gimmick in the book to stay in power, is above rigging an election?

    I'll be shocked if his opponent wins.

  • PapayaSF||

    Of course that's a worry.

  • Cytotoxic||

    If Chaves wins whether fairly or not, his opponents need to instigate an insurgency and keep in mind that Chavez is a big target for snipers.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Supposedly he has bullet proof clothing at all times.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Fine, but don't expect his successor to be any better.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Eddie Money looks horrible.

  • RengFin||

    So who comes up with all that crazy stuff. Wow.

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  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    His promise is simple: to use the money Venezuela gets from selling oil to fund more social programmes for the future.

    "This is the very first government that is using that resource to solve social troubles and empower poor people," says Rafael Antolinez, a pro-Chavez economist.

    You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

  • Oso Politico||

    It is almost 8pm here in Costa Rica. I haven't seen any results yet, but if Chavez wins, as I expect (and not because I believe in election results but rather I believe in the power of power) then then we won't see much difference tomorrow. I doubt that Capriles' followers who are middle and above class will raise a fuss. But if Henrique should win then we have a big problem as the Chavistas will create a violent reaction, and the good ol' US of A will attempt to intervene.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It won't be the first time there was fighting in the streets of Caracas over a Chavez election, and we didn't intervene last time...at least not militarily. I don' think we intervened during the riots after Peres was elected back in the '80s, either.

    I used to hear some crazy stuff about the U.S. when I was living in Central America, so, just for the record, I don't know what you're hearing in Costa Rica, but the U.S. intervening in Venezuela would probably be about the very last thing Barack Obama would want to do right now. He's having enough trouble getting reelected himself.

    Hell, if Iran would just stop with the nuclear program and North Korea would sit on its hands and breathe through its nose? The mood in the U.S. is more isolationist right now than I think it's ever been in my lifetime. I was just a tiny little kid in the post-Vietnam era, but I think the mood in the U.S. is more isolationist now than it was in the post-Vietnam era, back then...

    Seriously, if most American voters had it their way, the rest of the world would just lose our number for a few decades. I wouldn't worry to much about U.S. intervention.

  • BillsCatz||

    Well, he invested heavily in off-shore banks and hasn't started a roving death squad. Otherwise he appears to have screwed things up to a fare-the-well. Should count himself fortunate that Big Oil hasn't focused too hard on him yet, folks have ways of disappearing in the jungle down there.

  • bluesky||

    Too many wars

  • missjime||

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