Stratfor carries an analysis on Chavez today that I find way off the mark. They say:
"Chavez has fundamentally changed the nature of Venezuelan politics. His election was a response to the growing ineffectiveness of the two-party system that dominated Venezuela during the 20th century. His prioritization of Venezuela's poor population gave him an unrivaled power base but also empowered Venezuelan communities and redistributed oil wealth. In many ways, Chavez has become the father figure of Venezuela. The majority of Venezuelans will mourn his passing".I take exception to this statement. Chavez is the return to a style of Venezuelan politics that we felt was gone forever, that of the “caudillo”, messianic leader who promises the quick fix to the poor for tomorrow, knowing that he cannot deliver, that tomorrow never comes. It is true that his ascent o power was triggered by dissappointment with an ineffective democracy but remedies can be worse than the illness, as all thinking Venezuelans realize. His policy of handouts, contrary to what the report affirms, has only given the poor an illusion of well-being, money in their pockets but not better living conditions an certainly a very dangerous environment where almost 20,000 Venezuelans are being murdered every year. Handouts are not the manner to redistribute oil wealth since structural social investment is simply replaced by non- reproductive social expenditure.
Chavez is not a true father figure. If anything he is a Godfather figure, a la Corleone, distributing cash but not empowering the poor to become creators of wealth. Venezuelans who will mourn his passing are those who cannot fend for themselves and have to rely on the Godfather, in exchange for their total subservience.