David Frum

03.08.13

Hugo Chavez's Enduring Legacy

FREDY AMARILES/Getty Images ()

Citing Russian experiences, Anne Applebaum reminds us that the evil done by authoritarian rulers like Hugo Chavez lives on long after their demise:

One Venezuelan, now in his 30s, has written at ForeignPolicy.com that Chavez first came to power when the writer was 16: “Through all that time I can think of no political opinion, no vote, no broad social view that has not been affected — even defined — by this singular man and his unstoppable vision.”

In that writer’s case, the experience of life under Chavez meant “the dispersal of my family to faraway continents . . . the persecution and imprisonment of friends and colleagues,” as well as expropriations and violence. Chavez’s impact on him, on his dispersed family, on his children, on his neighbors, on their relations with the state or with public officials, on their attitudes to other countries and to one another, will not end with his death. Both individually and collectively, Venezuelans will spend years trying to understand how he shaped their country’s political culture. The sooner they begin that process, the better.