Clown Prince

03.06.13

Hugo Chavez Wrecked Venezuela

LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images ()

In honor of the clown prince, a few reminders about his legacy. As I wrote at CNN last year:

Hugo Chavez has laid Venezuela's economy to waste. One of the world's great energy producers must turn its streetlamps off at night. One of the world's wealthiest exporters cannot afford to import enough food. One of the world's energy superpowers is seeing its production slowly dwindle away because of chronic under-investment in the oil fields and the loss of access to technology as foreign companies are harassed and expropriated.

Did Venezuela vote for more of the same? Chavez does have a militant populist constituency, and it's not impossible that the final result does reflect what the voters actually did. But then, Vladimir Putin wins elections, too, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won at least one. It is not elections alone that make a free society -- and a free society is what Venezuela long ago ceased to be.

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And from a January column at the National Post:

Hugo Chavez has laid Venezuela's economy to waste. One of the world's great energy producers must turn its streetlamps off at night. One of the world's wealthiest exporters cannot afford to import enough food. One of the world's energy superpowers is seeing its production slowly dwindle away because of chronic under-investment in the oil fields and the loss of access to technology as foreign companies are harassed and expropriated.

Did Venezuela vote for more of the same? Chavez does have a militant populist constituency, and it's not impossible that the final result does reflect what the voters actually did. But then, Vladimir Putin wins elections, too, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won at least one. It is not elections alone that make a free society -- and a free society is what Venezuela long ago ceased to be.