What the Death of Hugo Chavez Means
On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, the Venezuelan Vice President, now the Interim President, declared the death of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. He died from his long fight with cancer at the age of 58. In all honesty, I know he was a sinful human living in a sinful and fallen world, but I have zero sadness for the now dead anti-American Marxist. Chavez was the personified image of pure evil that this world has seen in the 21st century, with the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad right there with him. America and the world are better with him gone.
According to the Wall Street Journal, since 1998 when Chavez was elected President, Venezuela “endured nearly two decades of political and economic turmoil.” Chavez’s Cuban-inspired 21st century socialism, authoritarianism, and anti-Americanism have only made conditions worse for the Venezuelan people. Even when other countries in Latin America seemed to be embracing free market and democratic reforms, Chavez pushed his socialism and anti-Americanism on Venezuelans at a time when global oil prices were on the rise in 2006, which allowed him to buy his influence.
He had his detractors in Venezuela who opposed his socialist policies and government takeover of media and oil companies, but because of his populism and government handouts, he was still liked by the Venezuelan people. The US government should initially tread lightly on how they oppose the Chevaz-built government. They should demand and encourage that they hold free and fair elections without coming on too strong in the beginning so as not to alienate the Venezuelan people and push them further towards anti-American Marxism. However, over the course of a few months, America should take the necessary indirect steps to support liberal democracy and liberal democracy activists in Venezuela.
America’s Latin American foreign policy should have two driving factors: American interests and the promotion of Liberty. Moreover, the best vehicle for promoting liberty in a Latin American country like Venezuela is the promotion of liberal democracy. We should encourage the Venezuelans to liberalize their economy and political institutions.
The challenge to liberty and liberal democracy in Venezuela lies primarily with the Interim President Nicolas Maduro, the leader that Hugo Chavez recently appointed as his successor before he died. He has made some recent comments claiming that Chavez’s enemies, namely the United States, poisoned the Venezuelan President with his cancer, and other incendiary anti-American rants. The question is whether he will hold elections within the required 30 days, and if so, will the elections be free and fair. I’m not holding my breath.
Since Hugo Chavez took to the helm of the presidency in Venezuela, although there were a number of Latin American countries embracing free-market and democratic reforms, his incendiary rhetoric, socialist policies, and fascist alliances actually succeeded in seeing other Marxist imitators rise to power in Ecuador and Bolivia.
The death of Hugo Chavez can either have far-reaching opportunities for liberty, or far-reaching consequences. If the Venezuelan people can say no to the Chavez-style Marxism and anti-Americanism, then the forces of liberty and liberal democracy could have an ally centrally located in Latin America. This would allow us to spread the hope and opportunity that freedom provides with free nations eventually out numbering dictatorial nations. However, the consequences could cause the current dictators to entrench themselves in their power and make stronger alliances with other evil empires. This would make them be an even bigger thorn in our side not only in Latin America, but also worldwide because of their evil alliances.
American foreign policy should always put American national interests first above anything global. We are a sovereign country. We should put our sovereignty, security, freedom, and safety above other nations. That is why at times in America’s history our leaders would always find ways to support liberal democracy, but sometimes they would support authoritarians because they saw that at that moment in time if they supported liberal democracy, the totalitarians would win (if it was in America’s interest to be involved). I believe this is a moment where our American leaders should look for liberal democratic activists in Venezuela in hopes of getting a liberal democratic ally in that region.
American foreign policy in Latin America and Venezuela should quickly, forcefully, and specifically criticize any anti-Americanism coming out of the current regime, seek international support, protect Americans and their property, and protect the innocent people of Venezuela. I would argue that American leaders should find ways to cut off the ties between the current Marxist regime in Venezuela with Hezbollah and Iran. America cannot afford to allow a potentially nuclear Iran to have potential access to the United States through the Latin American door of Venezuela.
Hugo Chavez may have died, but the havoc that his populist, authoritarian, anti-American, socialist policies have caused is still alive and kicking in the current government. It will be a long and hard fought battle for the forces of liberty and liberal democracy to succeed in reversing the damage that Chavez succeeded in implementing in his country. Anti-American Marxists are steadfast in their resolve to dismantle liberal economies and liberal democracies, so we too should be steadfast in our resolve to promote liberty and freedom worldwide.
Trey Mays is a Conservative political commentator. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TreyMays and Like him on Facebook @TreyMaysUSA.