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View Diary: Breaking News: Hugo Chavez Dead (368 comments)

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  •  RIP (6+ / 0-)
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    AoT, Loge, dougymi, TomP, Tonedevil, Mr Robert

    I can't say I was a fan of Chavez...but I can't say I'm happy to see him gone either.

    For the last 200 years, it has been possible to judge the political climate in Venezuela from the streets of Port-of-Spain. When I left home in 1994 there were few Venezuelans in Trinidad; when I came home in 2001 it seemed like they were everywhere. Chavez frightened the middle class in Venezuela enough for them to send their children to Trinidad (the wealthier ones send their children to Miami). His target may have been the wealthy, but when the middle class is small, it tends to bear the brunt of resentment aimed at the wealthy.

    Of course, Trinidad is always insecure when Venezuelan leaders feel expansive. There are disputes in the maritime borders, the 200-mile exclusive economic zone, and the cross-border petroleum reserves. Not to mention that we've never quite trusted Venezuela's 1940 renunciation of claims to Trinidadian territory.

    So yes, Chavez did a lot for the poor in Venezuela. Yes, he was immensely popular with the poor. But he also changed the constitution for his own benefit (which is a bit more serious than gerrymandering). I can't say I feel too sorry for the wealthy or for the church. But I can't feel comfortable when politicians systematically dismantle the opposition. So, all in all, my feelings are mixed.

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