For most people if the name Hugo Chavez registered at all, it was recognizing him as a brutally controlling Third World megalomaniac. He was a thorn in the side of leaders in freedom loving countries. He was famous for insulting world leaders to create headlines. Perhaps you remember this one:
September 2006: In perhaps his most infamous U.N. speech, Chavez uses the U.N. General Assembly stage to lambaste Bush. "The devil came here yesterday," Chavez says on stage. "And it smells of sulfur still." Chavez also holds up a Noam Chomsky book during that appearance as he continues to rail against America.Liberals in America seem to remember a different Hugo Chavez. They are aggressively working towards building a glowing legacy narrative for the man who ruled Venezuela for fourteen years by taking over private land, private industry, and the press. With a state controlled press and an electorate kept ignorant while on the public dole, it was possible for Chavez to hold on to power by mostly 'free' elections.
This is the statement released by former President Jimmy Carter, whose own legacy is that of the worst president in recent American history:
Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías. We met Hugo Chávez when he was campaigning for president in 1998 and The Carter Center was invited to observe elections for the first time in Venezuela. We returned often, for the 2000 elections, and then to facilitate dialogue during the political conflict of 2002-2004. We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized. Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez's commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.President Chávez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment. During his 14-year tenure, Chávez joined other leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to create new forms of integration. Venezuelan poverty rates were cut in half, and millions received identification documents for the first time allowing them to participate more effectively in their country's economic and political life.At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing. We hope that as Venezuelans mourn the passing of President Chávez and recall his positive legacies — especially the gains made for the poor and vulnerable — the political leaders will move the country forward by building a new consensus that ensures equal opportunities for all Venezuelans to participate in every aspect of national life.
I wonder what Chavez's "positive legacies" Carter wants Venezuelans to recall. High inflation? Loss of personal lands? Government controlled media? Government controlled oil and gas drilling industry? Escalating murder rates? Rampant poverty? Food shortages? A population kept poor and dependent on government for basic needs?
A socialist's Utopian dream, I suppose.
A sane evaluation of Chavez's reign would read more like THIS: