Chavez Dead & Buried.
Hugo Chavez, 58, died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer. In total he was leader of Venezuela for 14 years, he was involved in two attempted military coups (once as the instigator, once as the target), his premiership coincided with a massive decline in his country’s Human Rights record and his most enduring image is that one clip of him sniffing around the podium at the UN General Assembly like a police dog looking for crack. Oh, and apparently he didn’t believe in Al Qaeda or the moon landings.
This is what you should be thinking right now
His government rammed the Supreme Court with political supporters who then openly disregarded the notion of separation of powers, In 2009 he called for the arrest and 30 year imprisonment of a judge who returned a verdict he didn’t like (she remains under house arrest), the government passed legislation to make it harder for the press to criticize or offend them (while vowing to deport any foreigner who did the same) and the government consistently voted against UN Resolutions condemning Human Rights abuses in Burma, Syria and North Korea (among others).
His funeral was attended by such dedicated and well known defenders of human happiness as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President “elect” of Iran), Alexander Lukashenko (Europe’s last dictator) and Sean Penn (Spicoli). Following his funeral his body will be put on display “eternally“, following in the footsteps of previous heralds of revolutionary socialism as Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung and Ho Chi Minh. Because he spent his elected premiership constantly trying to show up the US whenever he could and chose to buy his weapons from Russia rather than the West he’ll be forever remembered as a dedicated anti-imperialist, because, of course Russia could never, ever, ever be described as an aggressive nation.
Of course it could easily be argued that so far I’ve been a slightly one sided about his death. The truth is that in life Chavez suffered from what I’ve just decided to call “Richard Nixon Syndrome.” Few people can doubt that Nixon was an asshole and yet he was the asshole who helped negotiate the first arms limitation treaty with the Soviet Union, created the Environmental Protection Agency, passed the 1970 Clean Air Act, fought hard (and partly succeeded) to reform US healthcare, oversaw the desegregation of public schools and helped lay the groundwork for the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
And Chavez falls into exactly the same trap. You have to be a completely myopic anti-US cyclops to be blind to all the mans faults, but you cant deny that his time as Venezuela’s leader lead to some huge improvements for the country. He passed progressive trade union laws, reduced poverty and increased health and education standards, all of which makes him more difficult to classify, but does it undo all that bad and make him a saint? Of course not. And yet his supporters continue to ignore the abuses and excesses as if they either didn’t happen or don’t matter as they chant his successes as if they’re revealing a never heard secret. It’s almost like the kitchen scene in Fight Club where the Space Monkeys start to chant “His name is Robert Paulson“. We all knew Chavez wasn’t Satan, that doesn’t undo the bad the he and his government was responsible for.