After helping to destroy the once relatively prosperous economy of Venezuela, socialist strongman Hugo Chávez (pictured) died of cancer on Tuesday at 58, with some of his allies and subordinates insisting that the tyrannical leader was actually murdered by some sort of secret U.S. “cancer” weapon. With the passing of Chávez, more than a few analysts are already heralding the death of socialism in Latin America. Despite the loss of one of its most outspoken and visible leaders, however, the statist forces quietly seizing control of the region will continue to march onward.
The autocratic Venezuelan socialist was perhaps best known for his wild screeds against “capitalism,” imperialism, and the United States, which he regularly blasted as the “Yankee Empire.” His more than 14-year reign was marked by expropriation of private property, silencing of critics, imprisoning of opposition forces, price controls, brutality, failed central planning, stoking of class warfare and unrest, United Nations-backed citizen disarmament, centralization of power, and much more. Abroad, the self-styled “Comandante” promoted his so-called “Bolivarian revolution,” climate-change hysteria, as well as what he described as “21st century socialism” for a “New World Order.”
Despite earning praise from dictators and statists worldwide, and even from some well-intentioned opponents of lawless U.S. government foreign policy, the fruits of the Chávez regime’s policies were as predictable as they were obvious — at least to anyone who cared to honestly examine the record. Among the hallmarks of his rule: soaring violence and murder rates, price controls and shortages of basic goods, wild inflation, electricity blackouts even in the capital city of Caracas, waves of exiles fleeing the country, wanton human-rights violations, and the implosion of what was once a relatively prosperous economy awash in oil wealth.
With Chávez dead, for now, at least, “Vice President” Nicolas Maduro is at the helm of the bloated regime erected over the last decade and a half. The new leader wasted no time in picking up where his former boss left off, expelling some U.S. diplomatic staff and blaming Chávez’ cancer on a sinister conspiracy. “There's no doubt that Comandante Chavez' health came under attack by the enemy," Maduro claimed in an address to Venezuela from the presidential palace, raising serious concerns among U.S. analysts who worry about the potential ramifications of such rhetoric. “The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health.”
The interim leader — a new election should take place within the next 30 days — also noted that a “special commission” would be investigating how Chávez ended up with cancer that could not be cured even through the “wonders” of the Communist Cuban regime’s infamous healthcare system. Like Chávez, who purported to uncover conspiracies against his rule all over the place — some of which may have been real, others almost certainly imagined or invented — Maduro and his allies have essentially claimed that the U.S. government was somehow responsible for the autocrat’s illness.
In Russia, meanwhile, Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov echoed those concerns, saying an “international investigation” was needed to determine whether the U.S. government has been secretly afflicting its enemies with cancer. The Russian Communist Party boss claimed during an interview with state-run television that it was “far from a coincidence” that six prominent Latin American socialist and communist leaders had suffered from similar illnesses in such a short time frame. U.S. authorities, of course, dismissed the claims as “absurd.”
In the United States, however, several Democrats and statists offered kind words for Chávez following his death. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), for example, wasted no time before praising the deceased tyrant. "Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless,” Rep. Serrano said in a Twitter post shortly after the announcement. “R.I.P. Mr. President."
President Obama, meanwhile — Chavez famously said he would vote for Obama if he could, and that Obama would vote for Chávez if he were from Venezuela — also released a statement after the news broke. While the president did not offer any words of praise for the deceased autocrat, more than a few analysts have noted that the Obama administration appears to be pursuing similar policies, albeit more slowly and quietly than Chávez did.
“At this challenging time of President Hugo Chávez' passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government,” Obama said in the statement. “As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”
It was not immediately clear how extrajudicial assassinations and indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens, introduced under Obama for the first time in American history, were compatible with the president’s supposed concern for the rule of law and human rights. Even Chávez never openly claimed the authority to start a war without consulting lawmakers, assassinate citizens without charges or trial, or use the military to indefinitely detain somebody suspected of posing a threat to the “homeland” under the NDAA with no access to due process.
The Venezuelan tyrant first soared to fame after a failed 1992 military coup that landed him in prison for two years. In a televised address, he admitted failure for the time being and began plotting his eventual rise to power through the ballot box. Venezuelan elections — especially during Chávez’ rule — have been marred by irregularities and accusations of fraud, including the most recent vote last year. Still, though his actions may have contradicted his words, the strongman always insisted he believed in “democracy.”
While Chávez is often portrayed as the “leader” of the Latin American Left, the reality is that his rise to ultimate power in Venezuela hardly happened in a vacuum. Indeed, the groundwork for the socialist takeover of Venezuela and the broader region had been carefully laid over a period of many decades; Chávez was simply a highly visible manifestation of a much larger phenomenon that has been quietly orchestrated and empowered since long before the alleged “collapse” of communism.
At the center of the socialist takeover in Latin America is a shadowy network known as the Foro de São Paulo (FSP, or São Paulo Forum) founded by Communist Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro, the Sandinistas, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, and other totalitarian-minded forces. The alliance of socialist and communist political parties with Marxist narco-terror groups such as the FARC in Colombia now dominates regional politics.
FSP members, financed in part by Chávez’ so-called “petro-dollars,” today control around two thirds of the national governments in Central and South America — not to mention the myriad transnational institutions such as the South American Union (UNASUR or UNASUL), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) where Raúl Castro recently assumed the presidency, Mercosur, and others. Among the most prominent FSP-affiliated regime leaders in the region: Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, dictator Raúl Castro in Cuba, Brazilian President and former communist terrorist Dilma Rousseff with the Workers’ Party (PT), and many more.
Of course, aside from drug profits and oil money, the FSP has also received significant support from abroad. The Communist dictatorship ruling mainland China, Russian authorities, and even Western European statist forces have all helped bolster the network and its machinations. Chávez, meanwhile, who called for a “New World Order” with a neutered United States during a trip to Beijing, played a key role in advancing the so-called “Pink Tide” as well, using Venezuela’s vast oil wealth to help spread revolution throughout the Western hemisphere.
In a 2006 speech to the UN General Assembly heard around the world, Chávez famously suggested that former President George W. Bush was a demon, claiming the podium smelled like sulfur after the U.S. Republican leader had finished his talk. Despite the chaos, destruction, and death left in the Venezuelan strongman’s wake, however, his critics and supporters alike are praying for Chávez’ soul — hoping that the fiery tyrant found peace and forgiveness with God before taking his final breath.
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, grew up in Latin America and is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at
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