Between the Lines

A Revolutionary Who Wasn't

The death of Hugo Raphael Chávez Frías provoked cries of “Hallelujah!” from pundits on the right.  Michael Moynihan, writing in the Daily Beast (the internet incarnation of Newsweek), jeered “Good riddance!” while he danced on the Venezuelan strongman’s grave.  All the usual suspects—the War Street Journal, the “conservatives” over at National Review, and the Israel Firsters of Commentary—took the opportunity to revile the deceased.  Their collective view of Chávez’s Venezuela was summed up by Rory Carroll’s recent book Comandante: “a land of power cuts, broken escalators, shortages, queues, insecurity, bureaucracy, unreturned calls, unfilled holes, uncollected garbage.”  That this could easily describe any number of American cities—say, Detroit—is apparently lost on Chávez’s detractors.

Chávez was regularly denounced as a “dictator”—a curious charge in view of the fact that he won no less than nine national elections hands down.  In spite of the millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars poured into the coffers of the anti-Chávez opposition—and a U.S.-supported military coup in 2002—Chavismo won the hearts and minds of Venezuelans.

Venezuela pre-Chávez...

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