The Cost of Chavez


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It seems to have escaped the notice of the government that if there’s a morgue full of crime victims, that itself is the problem, rather than the willingness of journalists to report on the facts. But for leaders such as Chavez, facts come a distant second behind ideology, and his ideology is simple: He is doing what is right for Venezuela, and if the country is in fact getting worse under his leadership, then it’s far preferable to shoot the media messengers than admit the truth. On the rare occasions when a government official is even willing to admit that there is a problem with a rising crime rate, they attribute it to regional factors, pointing out that other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, are also drowning in blood.

It is therefore interesting to compare Venezuela to its neighbor, Colombia. Colombia is of course far from perfect. It continues to grapple with an entrenched left-wing narco-insurgency, the very same FARC terrorists that Chavez supports. And violent crime remains a serious issue in many of Colombia’s major cities, in large part due to the same drug cartels and smuggling rings that beset Venezuela.

But unlike its socialist neighbor, Colombia shows no interest in denying that the problem exists and is more focused on finding solutions, including closer co-operation with America in modernizing its police. Such mutual assistance has paid dividends before; American military and technical aid was essential in allowing Colombia to deal several harsh military defeats to FARC, bringing large swathes of the country under government control for the first time in decades. FARC has even put out peace feelers.

Colombia’s efforts have paid off. Increasing security, economic development and a strengthening and maturing central government have seen the crime rate, while still problematic, drop by half during the same period than Venezuela’s has skyrocketed. With a newly inaugurated president, Colombia is well positioned to ride a wave of increasing prosperity in the wake of improving security conditions and continue to develop and modernize. None of this is to deny or minimize the challenges that lie ahead for a country that still must address economic disparity and remaining guerilla holdouts. But certainly, it is today better to live in democratic, capitalist, stabilizing Colombia than corrupt, violent Venezuela.

Hugo Chavez cannot be blind to the successes of his neighbor compared to the continued setbacks in his own nation. Whether or not he’s prepared to stop blaming the media for his own failures of leadership and take the steps necessary to improve the lives of his own people is an open question. But given his history of preferring the sound of a rattling saber over that of constructive criticism, there seems little reason for optimism.

Matt Gurney is an editor at the National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, and writes and speaks on military and geopolitical issues. He can be reached at matt@mattgurney.ca.

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  • Chezwick_Mac

    Colombia is America's best friend in Latin America…Chavez, our worst enemy. While Hollywood embraces Chavez, our unions and the Democratic Party demonize Colombia and refuse to grant her MFN trade status. Just one more strand in a mountain of evidence that the Liberal/Left is a fifth column, doing everything in its power to undermine our great country.

  • welldoneson

    As a sign of stupidity, refusal to make closer ties with Columbia ranks right up there with supporting the Chavez partner-in-crime Zelaya in Honduras. Zelaya was thrown out of office on the authority of the Congress, the Supreme Court, and by all indications the popular support of Honduras. To pretend it was a military coup simply because the Court ordered the military to escort the subversive bastard out of the country was just too far beyond sensible. It became obvious the Obama admin., and much of the world, is either controlled by blinkered lefties or are just simply, complete fools.

  • AlaskanInfidel

    Obama dreams of being Chavez…

    • Baer

      Total nonsens

  • http://netzero.com Steve Chavez

    If the Dems still control Congress after November, look for them to end term limits for the Great One! Then with the help of groups like ACORN, registering 12 yr. olds like MY son, bribing everyone, including Republicans, with stimulus jobs and $250 checks that addict you to them so you have to vote for them to continue to get your fix, and bribe the poor and illegals, Obama will become President for Life! God willing!

    Obama will then be seen on TV LIVE everyday. He will travel everyday to see the masses and to among the people who will faint at his very presence. The media will get chills up their legs and will be in awe of his words, sometimes screamed like his heroes: Chavez, Fidel, and Hillary! God willing!

    Being unafraid of any criticism, he will buy knee pads that will be carried everywhere by the man who used to carry the football! He will bring all troops home from foreign lands to deal with the growing threat from the enemy within: The Tea Party!

    "Long live Obama! Long live Obama! Long live Obama!" (Just practicing.)

  • Cuban Refugee

    Chavez took a beautiful, prosperous country and turned it into the slum of South America by following the Castro blueprint for disaster, and silencing anyone who dared to dissent, e.g., the television networks that he summarily closed for their words of opposition to his inflicting chaos on Venezuela. The tried and failed cookie cutter communist path threatens to destroy the United States as Obama follows and implements to the letter the Castro/Chavez misguided rules for a Marxist Utopia. It is the people who suffer and die as a result of narcissists at the helm of dark dystopias that are designed in hell. This article's description of chaos, and its eerie similarity to our current jumbled state of affairs, makes one wonder: how many days of freedom to express our opinion on this and other forums are left before we are crushed by the repressive, thuggish boot on the throat?

  • bubba4

    It's hard to believe you actually live in fear of such things. You can't top FPM with over-the-top paranoia and ridiculous conclusions not based on reality….don't try.

    • ajnn

      These postings are having a bit of fun ridiculing Obama by associating him with Chavez. No one actually believes Obama is likely to be made president-for-life.

      This is another example of someone on the Left stereotyping and projecting his prejudices against people who do not share his/her opinions.

      • bubba4

        "This is another example of someone on the Left stereotyping and projecting his prejudices against people who do not share his/her opinions."

        What is?

        With Steve Chavez it is always a bit hard to tell if he is being serious or if he is pretending to be serious to make a point, or if he actual is serious and believes what he;s saying. I see the story of his 12 year old has found it's way into his mythology even though he refused to prove it in any way. So he believes that much. Maybe the jokes on you and you've find yourself looking at your contemporaries and realizing that they are bat-sh*t crazy.

    • Samurai Hit Woman

      Just because you are blind as a bat doesn't mean Frontpage and its readers have the same affliction.

  • Mikeymojo

    I hate to admit it, but there is one area I agree with Chavez. Latin American publications often do have excessively graphic photos. Unlike him though, I would never support censorship of the printed word.

  • daniel

    Over here in Holland we had gushing reviews by state journalists on Hugo Chavez. As soon as some guy claims to help the poor they are promoted as saints.

    Lately there are no more reports on Hugo Chavez.

    It's time the anti-left coalition starts informing the people that leftist promises are just a trick to get more power. The problem is that many people don't care though. If they can get goodies they vote left.