The Venezuelan despot, Hugo Chávez, spent much of his time stoking class hatred and abusing his control of the judiciary to persecute and jail his political opponents. He seized millions of hectares of farmland and hundreds of businesses, with little or no compensation. The result was that Venezuela became an even more oil-dependent economy, which instead of the “endogenous development” promised by the so-called Bolivarian Revolution, increasingly relied on imports of the most basic foodstuffs that were once produced domestically. Meanwhile, Chávez, his clan and his corrupt cronies, the Boligarchs, amassed huge fortunes. Without a hint of irony in his tribute, President Michael D Higgins of Ireland said: “President Chavez achieved a great deal during his term in office, particularly in the area of social development and poverty reduction.” Oliver Stone and Sean Penn were said to be equally grief stricken.
Hugo Chávez lavished praise and aid on ideological allies such as Bashar al-Assad, Robert Mugabe and Muammar Gaddafi. The dead despot’s generosity was worth billions each year to the Castro tyranny in Cuba and was vital in helping its economy recover from the depression that followed the collapse of its last patron, the Soviet Union. Subsidies to the autocratic government of Daniel Ortega are estimated to be worth around eight percent of Nicaragua’s GDP. The best obituary for the man’s wretched misrule is provided by Bloomberg: “Chavez the Popular Autocrat Leaves a Legacy of Ruin.”