Chavez’s Victory: Blame the Socialist Public

Hugo Chavez’s socialist revolution continues on, as the tyrannical strongman claimed a third consecutive six-year presidential term on Sunday. The Chavez win was somewhat unexpected due to the great problems the country faces as a direct result of Chavez’s leadership — including endemic government corruption and inefficiency, a tanking economy, vast consumer shortages, severe inflation, electricity blackouts and growing violence. Yet considering Chavez’s radical redistributionist policies, and much of the Venezuelan public’s economic interest in overlooking his abuses, it is an unfortunate fact that his challenger’s failure should not be surprising.

Chavez claimed victory over 40-year-old Henrique Capriles, grandson of Jewish Holocaust survivors and a self-professed Catholic, who had campaigned on promises to rollback Venezuela’s decade-long slide into socialist tyranny and destitution. Capriles and his supporters had been confident that the Venezuelan public would finally be receptive to a campaign of promises to reform the bureaucracy, ease suffocating state economic controls, open up markets, and increase private investment.

Pre-election surveys found Capriles leading by as much as five points before election day, and his loss led many opposition activists to blame massive government-orchestrated voter fraud. The Chavez-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) was criticized for its refusal to allow an independent audit of the voter registry, and the CNE’s own website listed thousands of voters between the ages of 111 and 129.

Nevertheless, Capriles downplayed allegations of widespread voter fraud as the cause for his defeat, defusing the highly combustible situation by saying, “I am never going to mess around with our people, or subject them to instability. The other side obtained more votes and that’s democracy.”

In truth, Capriles may be right. The occurrence of voter fraud in Venezuela’s presidential election, to whatever extent it occurred, may be far less significant than the effect a comprehensive socialist program has had on degenerating the better judgment of voters with respect to what’s in the country’s long-term interests. Rather, habituation to radical redistributionist policies have kept a comfortable portion of voters reliably in Chavez’s pocket, despite his systematic dismantlement of Venezuelan democracy and egregious abuses of power.

The taste for “bread and circuses” governance among Venezuelans has seemingly caused much of the population to overlook Chavez’s totalitarian transformation of the political landscape. Chavez first assumed the presidency in 1999, after which he began a decade-long accumulation of near total control over Venezuela’s economy. His power was amassed through engineered government takeovers of the country’s oil, electrical and telecommunications industries.

Moreover, Chavez’s takeover of Venezuela’s economy was joined by a concurrent hijacking of the country’s governmental institutions. Aided by his control of the National Assembly, Chavez ruthlessly quell any opposition from Venezuela’s judiciary, press, and political opponents.

The Chavez government’s policies centered on a massive wealth redistribution scheme financed mostly by Venezuela’s estimated $1 trillion in oil revenues. This provided billions of dollars in social programs for poor Venezuelans, including free goods and services like medical care, public housing and education.

Chavez’s role as the Venezuelan Robin Hood has built him a strong base of support with the masses, a base which he was eager to exploit this election with a deeply divisive campaign of class warfare. Chavez not only pledged to expand Venezuela’s sprawling welfare state with a continuance of populist programs, but argued that his opposition — whom he labeled as “fascists,” “Yankees,” “neo-Nazis,” puppets of the “rich,” and “Zionists” — would take away those government benefits.

Chavez’s vote-buying efforts included highly publicized ceremonies, in which he doled out government-funded handouts to the Venezuelan public, including homes, pensions and cash benefits for single mothers. As one analyst said, “I think he just cranked up the patronage machine and unleashed a spending orgy.”

Chavez was assisted in his campaign by the mostly government-controlled Venezuelan media. What remains of the country’s independent press was likely too fearful of being shut down, or worse, arrested for criticizing him.

Despite these efforts, Chavez received only 54 percent of the vote, his closest margin of victory, but one that did not prevent him from claiming an electoral mandate to further push Venezuela “along the path of democratic and Bolivarian socialism of the 21st century.”

Of course, some are hopeful that Chavez himself may not have a prolonged stay in the 21st century, given his ongoing battle with cancer, a battle which has included surgery to remove tumors from his pelvic region as well as chemotherapy and radiation treatment. However, Chavez has claimed a clean bill of health, allowing him to continue on with his socialist revolution at home as well as deepening Venezuela’s friendship and support for America’s enemies throughout the world.

In that latter case, Chavez has spent enormous amounts of money, primarily through discounted Venezuelan oil, propping up the communist Castro dictatorship in Cuba and fellow socialist despots throughout Central and South America, while at the same time fostering a budding friendship with the fanatical Iran regime.

That Iranian friendship was on display recently in a joint press conference Chavez held with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas in which Chavez joked about the two having an atomic bomb at their disposal. As the two leaders laughed about the Iranian nuclear program aimed at wiping Israel off the map, Chavez said, “One of the targets that Yankee imperialism has in its sights is Iran, which is why we are showing our solidarity. When we meet, the devils go crazy.”

This is the man that has attracted such ardent followers among the Hollywood leftist elite, including Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, all of whom have a special fondness for demagogues. Stone found Chavez to be a “charismatic and dynamic figure, bent on helping his country emerge from the crushing weight of US political interests,” while Belafonte once told the strongman, “We’re here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution.”

Of course, while the American left may admire Chavez, many of those unlucky enough to live under his tyrannical rule have a differing opinion, best expressed by a Venezuelan auto mechanic who remarked before the presidential election that Chavez “wants to be like Fidel Castro — end up with everything, take control of the country.” Unfortunately, it is unlikely that slow and steady march will reverse any time soon.

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  • Chezwick

    My God! The implication of this article is that the election wasn't fraudulent. All the exit polls had the opposition candidate winning.

    • Roger

      They controlled the counting. That's all that matters.

    • goemon

      i don't think it was rigged. people love their oppressors. that's why Ob*m* is gonna be so closely tied with Romney in USA.

      • Omar

        goemon, I believe that the election was rigged. All international polls showed that Capriles was in the lead for the presidency in Venezuela. Capriles conceded the election because he is a good sport, unlike Chavez, who would have acted like a sore loser had the election been fair and not rigged. Chavez had threatened physical conflict had he played by the rules. The main losers of this rigged election are the Venezuelan people, who have been denied a free and fair election for over a decade. Hopefully, by 2018, the people of Venezuela will rise up and replace Chavez with a leader who respects the rule of law. But there is no doubt that this was a fraudulent election and Chavez stole/bought out votes. Capriles should have been the winner.

        • LindaRivera

          Omar, I am so very sorry that the good people of Venezuela lost. Capriles would have made a fantastic president!

  • Omar

    There was clear fraud in this election. How could the lunatic Chavez win by 10 points if all of the polls showed Capriles having a slight lead? That is pure exploitation. I don't care what the Communist-controlled CNE says. Capriles should have been the winner. That election should have brought out Chavez and brought in President Capriles.

  • Omar

    Also, it is very funny that Chavez calls his opponents "neo-Nazis" considering the fact that he is allied with the Nazi autocrat of Iran, Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust and repeatedly calls for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

  • Billiam Clement

    Omar, why is it surprising? The leftists in the US call the Tea Party violent nazi's and just love the occupy crowd. It's projection. They project what THEY really are onto their opponents. All you need is a willing group of lapdog sycophant propagandists. Enter the press…

    • Omar

      Billiam, you're right. The left ignores the fact that the American Nazi Party endorsed the so-called "Occupy" movement and that the OWS movement had quite a few instances of anti-Semitism. I didn't see any of that at Tea Party rallies, yet the left and the MSM derides the Tea Party while praises the bigoted OWS movement.

  • Deerknocker

    I used to be a good deal more critical of the people of Venezuela than I am today. How could they just sit by and watch their democracy and their economic freedoms be taken away by a demagogue? Today, I know how. Our own version of Chavez, our own dufus potus, is showing support from a slim majority of voters. Given Obama's dismal record of failure, who could possibly support him? But even so he has support. The takers in this country together with those who believe it to be fair and just to take from the wealth makers, are approaching a majority. We are at the tipping point, just as was Venezuela when Chavez came along. If we reelect Obama, how can we criticize the voters of Venezuela?

    • Mark Taylor

      Well said. This election is about who we are as a people. How lonely and frustrated the producers must feel in Venezuela and Argentina.

  • BS77

    Venezuela is another Animal Farm..

  • BLJ

    Who was Hugo's running mate? Ozzie Guillen?

  • Marvin Fox

    Of course Chavez won; and, Capriles could do very little to stop the process. Chavez had the national treasury, a nationalized Media, the national military, and a nation wide political machine in place. He already owned everything he might have needed to cheat for him to win the election. That is not my idea of a fair election. A recount of the votes would be a fiasco, just as the election was. But, still, Capriles came too close for Chavez's comfort.
    Capriles comment, "the other side got more votes and that's democracy." is accurate for every, so called, democracy. One can search in vain for any smell of majority rule in any present nation calling itself a democracy.
    Marvin Fox

    • Omar

      That election was a fraud. Everyone knows that this was theft on Chavez's part. All of the international polls (since Venezuela's national polls are obviously biased) said that Capriles was in the lead throughout the last days before the election. Capriles should have been the winner.

  • Ghostwriter

    I think Venezuela is a big warning about what sort of America may come from someone like Chavez. It's a neck-and-neck race between President Obama and Governor Romney. So anything can happen between now and election day. I disagree with Harry Belafonte. Most Americans DON'T support Chavez. I certainly don't. I think he's an arrogant blowhard with a touch of paranoia in him. I've got the feeling it's not going to end well for Hugo Chavez. Sooner or later,his people are going to get tired of him and then overthrow him. Hopefully,it'll be sooner rather then later.

    • Omar

      Don't worry, Ghostwriter. Though that election was clearly rigged by Chavez & Co., more and more people are disliking him and are tired of his annoying rule in Venezuela. Everyone knows that the election was rigged, considering the fact that all international polls said that Capriles was in the lead. Capriles should have won that election.

  • sablegsd

    Perhaps the country will get lucky and the ugly, evil snake will die from the cancer he has.

  • dougjmiller

    Are we forgetting voter fraud. Who monitored the election in Venezuela? Remember that Chavez runs a police state and he controls the guns.