This watery orb we humans inhabit is a funny place. Natural wonder abounds. Monuments to human ingenuity dot every continent, and are somehow all the more majestic the farther they descend into ruin. There exists, among our own species, exemplars of great leadership, kindness, intellectual brilliance, and courage. And sharing the orb with all of it also exist degraded environments, derelict cities, and the very worst that the human brain is capable of producing – rapists, thieves, charlatans, and murderers.
Humanity being what it is, those who possess the former qualities are usually the ones who ascend to positions in society where they can use their ability to make it better. Those who possess the latter qualities, though they sometimes end up in high office, usually end up marginalized, jailed, or executed. Global society is far from perfect of course, but on the whole, the world is made up of decent, hard-working, family-oriented people who want to raise their standard of living, and they want to be led by good people. And sometimes, the whole thing goes to shit, and Hugo Chávez gets to be in charge of a whole goddamned country.
A panoply of words springs to mind when one thinks of Hugo Chávez, the current and perhaps eternal president of Venezuela. Megalomaniacal. Faux-populist. Asshat. Hypocrite. Chubby. But though he is a loathsome figure, the possibility always existed, was in fact likely, that he would be one day removed from power. After all, he is a democratically elected politician (well, not quite, and only because the international community is staffed, almost without exception, by cowardly oil whores), and they all get shown the door sooner or later. Apparently Hew-go just realized that himself, and has decided it just won’t do.
So he’s done what any enemy of democracy would do: he’s announced a plan to alter Venezuela’s constitution that would allow him to be re-elected indefinitely (looks like Chávez gets not only guns but ideas from Vladimir Putin). And given that Hew-go has proven that he has no compunction about committing outright fraud to get his electoral way, he probably will be. And what a sight an election 10 years from now will be – millions of Venezuelans marching on the presidential palace, exasperated by the failure of Chávez’s backward nationalization strategies and impoverished by an economy largely dependent on oil prices, which will have dropped due to the continuing emergence of alternative fuels and more energy-efficient technologies, while Hew-go raises his fat fist for the cameras in a totally manufactured and artificial “victory.”
It cannot be repeated loudly or often enough what a truly despicable hog is Chávez. Taking craven advantage of a populace buffeted by generations of corrupt and negligent leadership, he has piggybacked on some sure-winner populist ideas in order to consolidate power. In the meantime, he is making a fundamental economic mistake – mortgaging his country’s financial future on the strength of a single commodity, oil. Record oil prices are bankrolling his social programs now, but like any commodity, those prices will one day drop. And when they do, Chávez will have a country full of nationalized industries which will be plagued by the same problems all nationalized industries are – inefficiency and corruption. Take this quote from a paper by George R.G. Clarke and Lixin Colin Xu in the Journal of Public Economics: “Bribe takers (utility employees) are more likely to take bribes in countries with greater constraints on utility capacity, lower levels of competition in the utility sector, and where utilities are state-owned.” Sounds like nationalization to me. And economies rotted with corruption cause chaos and heartbreaking destitution for the people trying to make a living in them.
This is to say nothing of Hew-go’s unsettling international behavior, specifically this adorable little budding romance:
Venezuela and Iran have already signed a number of energy deals, and Hew-go jointly announced with his lil’ buddy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the creation of a multi-billion dollar “anti-U.S. fund” in January of this year, though they didn’t really go into what the hell that means (likely because they have no idea themselves, other than the chance to hold a press conference just like real heads of state and pander to their citizens with some anti-American rhetoric). Also of concern is his connection to Colombian terrorist organization FARC; he may be running Russian guns to them and providing safe training havens.
And let’s not forget, despite Hew-go’s touted “Misión Arbol,” Venezuela has South America’s 3rd-highest deforestation rate and is beset by problems associated with illegal mining, sewage pollution, soil degredation, and toxic lakes.
All this, and Venezuelan communications minister Willian Lara describes Chávez’s term-limits ploy as an attempt to “guarantee the people the largest amount of happiness possible.” God help them.