|Caricature from The Times, 7 Mar. 2013|
London - With the news of Hugo Chavez's passing inundating the world's media, his life and legacy will be the topic of many debates. Having been blogging about Venezuela since 2002, I thought I could venture my views. Hugo Chavez was not this, somewhat benign guy, who had his heart in the right place but couldn't overcome what I will call "Venezuelanness", read a people with a pretty anarchic outlook and general disregard for rule of law, order, and authority.
|Hugo Chavez with his friend Bashar al-Assad|
Our country was never a model of democracy, but among other Latin American nations ravaged by continuous military coups in the second half of the XX century, it was an example. Our country, let me remind you readers, was centre stage in suspending from OAS both Trujillo's hard right dictatorship and Fidel Castro's hard left one. Our country's diplomats were key in liberating political prisoners from Pinochet's Chile. Our country was a net recipient of immigrants, not only those who were running away from the Second World War but also those escaping brutal dictatorships in the region. Who emigrates to Venezuela nowadays? Who sets up businesses and risks it going now? I'll tell you who: thugs from Iran, Zimbabwe, Libya, Sudan, Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, communist Cuba, Russia, and China that's who. Our country, for instance, received a bunch of Basque terrorists after an agreement between Carlos Andres Perez and Spanish Premier Felipe Gonzalez, that, for years, were kept monitored and on check. Nowadays they work in the highest offices, are protected by the Chavez regime, and have even been naturalised. The US spends billions helping Colombia struggle with FARC's narco terrorism, while Chavez used to give them money, sanctuary, and support. That's what our country has become, a gangsters' paradise. In the words of former Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN, Diego Arria, Chavez put early on a big neon sign that read: Venezuela is open for business, all criminals welcome.