If Only There Were a Way to Perform Surgery on Venezuela

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 20, 2011

Perhaps such a procedure could excise Hugo Chavez from the Venezuelan body politic. His policies, after all, are bad for his country’s health:

While President Hugo Chavez has been recovering from pelvic surgery in Cuba, his troubles at home in Venezuela have been accumulating.

On top of 23 percent inflation and growing government debt, worsening blackouts have emerged as a serious dilemma, forcing Chavez’s government to announce rationing measures including rolling power outages in some parts of the country.

Chavez is increasingly focused on shoring up support ahead of his 2012 re-election bid, and some analysts say his domestic woes seem to be limiting his international reach in Latin America.

“President Chavez is going through a very difficult time,” said Maria Teresa Romero, a professor of international studies at the Central University of Venezuela. “He’s not the same Hugo Chavez he was four, five years ago.”

She said Chavez no longer has the financial ability to promote oil-funded diplomacy the way he did several years ago, and is increasingly consumed with confronting issues such as the blackouts, deadly prison riots and deficiencies in the health care system.

“If he can’t handle such serious problems that are slipping out of his hands such as electricity … how can it be explained that he’s going to help other countries?” Romero said. She said elsewhere in Latin America, “They see he’s weak.”

Of course, there were plenty of people who warned Chavez that his socialist policies–policies that he lauded as being enlightened, and the only way for Venezuela and other countries to prosper–would lead Venezuela to ruin. They warned him that imposing an authoritarian government was no way to run a railroad. He didn’t listen, believed that high oil prices would rescue him from any bad decisions that he made, isolated Venezuela by picking fights with the United States, and with fellow Latin American governments, and now finds himself alone and isolated as his country struggles to figure out how to pick up the pieces of its collective life, and recover from Chavez’s policies.

If all of these problems only affected Chavez, the civilized portions of the planet could indulge in a spot of schadenfreude. There is, after all, no reason to feel sorry for Chavez; when he is not being tyrannical, he is being pathetic and misguided. He personally deserves whatever trouble he gets. But unfortunately, the Venezuelan people suffer as well. They deserved better than what Chavez has given them.

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