Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A bad steward of a good country

We can all mark cancer's victory over Hugo Chavez as at least one good thing the disease has done. A holdover of the Stalinist mindset from the Soviet Union, Chavez enriched himself personally while preaching wealth redistribution to gullible voters among the poor in Venezuela, making a mockery of democracy and sending a fragile nation down the road to perdition.

I had the good fortune to attend a trade show in Caracas in the early eighties. There was plenty of poverty to be seen around Caracas. Ramshackle dwellings covered the hillsides for as far as you could see in some areas. And there was plenty of corruption and crime. I had my credit card and passport stolen in the wink of an eye soon after arrival. And I was lucky to get out of the country for want of the "exit tax" levied - twice! - at the airport.

But there was a vitality to the country, an optimism and a fire in the belly of the people in those days that was unmistakable. Venezuela was going places, and it had the richest oil reserves in the world with which to go there. It produced at one time (maybe the record still stands) more Miss Universes than any other country in the world. It is made up of  beautiful, ambitious, capable people.

And at that time, I could walk safely the mile or so from the horse track where the trade show was to my hotel without a problem. It was probably as safe as Mexico City was fifteen years ago when I worked there. You could get around, you just had to be prudent. Now both Mexico and Venezuela are largely no-man's-lands. One because of the drug cartels, the other because of the evil tyrant Hugo Chavez's squelching of private property rights and individual freedom.

We can all thank God today that the world, and especially Venezuela, is better off without the despicable Hugo Chavez. And wonder... why did Barack Obama like him so well?

That's food for thought, for the thinking...

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