RIP Chavez

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Many of you might have heard about Hugo Chavez’s death almost a week ago. He was the first socialist president of Venezuela and elections will be held to see if there will be a second socialist leader. During his time in power (1999 – 2013) he had brought many changes to his country. He nationalized many key industries, including the oil industry. He also increased government funding towards health care, education and social welfare programs.

He was also a key figure in development of the Americas. Many of the South and Latin American countries relied on Venezuela’s aid.

“During his time in power, Venezuela earned almost $1 trillion, according the Hoover Institute. And many countries in the region have depended on Chavez’s generous economic aid, which was funded by Venezuela’s oil reserves.”

“On the day Hugo Chavez took office in February 1999, oil was around $30 a barrel and by the day he died, it was $111, after a peak of around $140 a barrel during the 2008 financial crisis.” (A small clip on Aljazeera about Hugo Chavez’s death)

Although he was elected as president of Venezuela, almost every country in that region had benefited from him. But many criticize his input in Venezuela. There are some who believe that he did not do enough for Venezuela. They believe that he should have invested moreĀ  in Venezuela first, before helping their neighbors. He had given economic aid or preferential trade deals to neighboring countries to counter. His death leaves uncertainty in the region.

Is Hugo Chavez is a good leader? What does his death mean for Venezuela and its neighbors? Is Venezuela better off continuing its socialist regime?

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6 thoughts on “RIP Chavez

  1. Michelle says:

    Awesome post! I just watched a documentary about Chavez to try and form a better opinion about him, but my feelings are still mixed. He seems to have done a lot for his country, especially in terms of oil as you discussed. I know the US relies heavily on Venezuela for oil, which is why a lot of people didn’t like him. He was supposed to be a “friend of the poor”, but of course many disagreed with that and called him a social dictator and said he was only a friend to Fidel Castro. I think that he did some good in the end, and did win 2 elections fairly. I just think some of the decisions he made could have been better.

    • mludin says:

      True, I agree with Michelle. Although he was considered as “friend of the poor”, but he could not solely survive on providing oil just to the poor nations. United States, being the largest economy in the world, is a great source of income for Venezuela’s oil, as US has a huge market for oil. This just shows that he was not totally independent when dealing with oil. If Venezuela had another potential market (as great as US), I am assuming they would prefer to supply them.

  2. lorenemv says:

    From a Latin American perspective or at least an Nicaraguan one, the loss of Hugo Chavez is devastating. He was a key player in Nicaragua’s growing development and I’m honestly afraid for it’s future because his death most likely means a change for the worse. I’m drafting a blog post now based on a letter he wrote to a Spanish singer who wanted to perform in Venezuela that has always inspired me. Every socialist government in Latin America has gotten a lot of the same criticisms but Chavez has received the brunt force because he was powerful, he had oil of course, and represented a system and a philosophy about Venezuela that a lot of North Americans seem to misunderstand. I don’t agree with every thing or decision he made but it doesn’t change how he was an inspiration to me as a Latin American, and as a person. The day Chavez died my father sent me a message that included these words that I think represents how a lot of Latin Americans feel:
    “Hugo Chavez was one of the greatest men I know about. Latin America has lost a giant. That is why I am so sad tonight “

  3. As a socialist, Chavez had a great impact on his country and surrounding region. He definitely made some very good choices and some questionable one.
    However, in my opinion, Chavez was not a great man that was a friend of *ALL* the poor and the weak. When the revolution in Syria began, Chavez publicly sided with the president of Syria, Bashar Al Assad, and continued to do so till the day he passed away. He claimed that Al Assad is the legitimate leader even though he inherited his presidency from his father, Hafez Al Assad. He continued supporting him even though Al Assad has single handedly internally displaced close to half of the Syrian population, produced 1 million refugees, and killed close over 80 000 innocent civilians to silence the uprising.

    • mludin says:

      I would assume that this would be a political strategy on Chavez’s part. There are few countries which have allied themselves against US, and Bashar Al Assad is one of them, although, it comes at a very high price. Another instance where he sided with his ally was in Libyan revolution, where he sided with Muammar Gaddafi.

  4. I didn’t know that Rasha, but I’ve also heard some shady things about him, mostly in Doug Saunders’ book ‘arrival city’. Everyone has their opinion, one of the large-scale reforms Chavez wanted was in education, particularly in the slums of Curacao. The problem is that for the most part the education was party-propaganda. Without doing any research at all it’s difficult to form an opinion, but I definitely won’t say he was a good man because he dropped oil prices alone.

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