Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chavez Dies

Yes, you've heard the news.  Yes, the world is now a better place.

I happened to go to Venezuela in 1999 or 2000, give or take.  I was down there teaching some engineers, mostly from PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.), the state-owned oil company in Venezuela.  The engineers back then were already talking about how Chavez was running things into the ground by appointing incompetent political cronies to high positions within the company.  Morale was already low.  Very sad to see then, and sad to see how things developed.

I think that the Patriot Post captured it well, with this headline:
"Venezuelan Thug Dies, Socialists Mourn"

You can see exactly how bad a person Chavez was by who mourns him in this article, from CBS News:
"Sean Penn mourns Hugo Chavez's death: "I lost a friend"" by Jessica Derschowitz

More, from the Wall Street Journal:
"Venezuela Leader Chávez Dies at 58" by Jose de Cordoba and David Luhnow

This is the more accurate description of Chavez, in my opinion.
"I celebrate his death, because he did a lot of harm to Venezuela, he handed the country to Cubans, he left behind crime, the hospitals are collapsed," said housewife Lisbeth Aulasr. "But I don't doubt chaos is coming."
Classic dictator behavior, claim the mantle of democracy but don't allow fiar elections:
After failing to reach power through a military coup in 1992, Mr. Chávez proclaimed himself a democrat. But once in power, he proved difficult to remove. He changed the constitution twice to allow continuous re-election. He also used rhetoric to sharpen class divisions, pitting millions of poor Venezuelans against a prosperous middle and upper class, which he scornfully called "the squalid ones."
Mr. Chávez expropriated thousands of farms and businesses, and transformed the state oil company into a behemoth that built houses and distributed food. He saddled Venezuela with high inflation, some $80 billion in foreign debt and made it even more oil dependent.
"He leaves the country in a shambles," said Moisés Naím, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. "Never has a Latin American leader wasted so much money, misspent so many resources and misused such power. Chávez could have transformed the country, but instead used those resources to build a personality cult, push a failed ideology and decimate the country's economy."
It is said that a man can be judged by the company he keeps:
Venezuela's oil billions gave Mr. Chávez a chance to strut on the world's stage. He delighted in tweaking the U.S., inviting Libya's late Moammar Gadhafi and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Caracas. He supplied Bashar al-Assad with fuel oil as the Syrian leader killed thousands of his own countrymen.
This happened after I went to Venezuela, but is entirely consistent with what the PDVSA employees were telling me back in 2000:
Back in power, Mr. Chávez purged the military and set out to tame Venezuela's other important power center, state oil company PDVSA.
In December, after Mr. Chávez tried to replace the company's board, employees went on strike, shutting down oil production. Other businesses joined in the strike. But by January 2003, Mr. Chávez had broken the strike.
Mr. Chávez fired some 19,000 PDVSA employees. The company never recovered. Neither did Venezuela's oil production, which was 2.6 million barrels a day in 2011, down from 3.2 million in 1998.