After helping to destroy the once relatively prosperous economy of Venezuela, socialist strongman Hugo Chávez (pictured) died of cancer on Tuesday at 58, with some of his allies and subordinates insisting that the tyrannical leader was actually murdered by some sort of secret U.S. “cancer” weapon. With the passing of Chávez, more than a few analysts are already heralding the death of socialism in Latin America. Despite the loss of one of its most outspoken and visible leaders, however, the statist forces quietly seizing control of the region will continue to march onward.
The autocratic Venezuelan socialist was perhaps best known for his wild screeds against “capitalism,” imperialism, and the United States, which he regularly blasted as the “Yankee Empire.” His more than 14-year reign was marked by expropriation of private property, silencing of critics, imprisoning of opposition forces, price controls, brutality, failed central planning, stoking of class warfare and unrest, United Nations-backed citizen disarmament, centralization of power, and much more. Abroad, the self-styled “Comandante” promoted his so-called “Bolivarian revolution,” climate-change hysteria, as well as what he described as “21st century socialism” for a “New World Order.”
Despite earning praise from dictators and statists worldwide, and even from some well-intentioned opponents of lawless U.S. government foreign policy, the fruits of the Chávez regime’s policies were as predictable as they were obvious — at least to anyone who cared to honestly examine the record. Among the hallmarks of his rule: soaring violence and murder rates, price controls and shortages of basic goods, wild inflation, electricity blackouts even in the capital city of Caracas, waves of exiles fleeing the country, wanton human-rights violations, and the implosion of what was once a relatively prosperous economy awash in oil wealth.
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