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Venezuela: Hugo Chavez's Legacy

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After 14 years in power, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on March 5, 2013. His legacy is controversial. On the one hand, he championed social programs to help poor Venezuelans and South Americans, and he led efforts to unify Latin America and reduce U.S. influence in the region. In a deal with Cuba, Chavez traded low cost Venezuelan oil with Cuba in exchange for Cuban doctors and teachers to help Venezuela's poor. Chavez's government claimed they reduced poverty from over 50% of the population, down to 30% of the population.

On the other hand, Chavez left Venezuela with food shortages and high rates of violence, political corruption, and inflation. Chavez used strong arm tactics to weaken political opposition, all in the name of fighting against capitalists who would exploit the poor. Although well intentioned, some of his social programs were not sustainable and ultimately failed. For example, the poor masses supported him because he implemented job training programs. However, graduates of these job training programs could not find jobs because no one was hiring in Venezuela's bad economy.

Ultimately, what will be Hugo Chavez's legacy? Idealistic champion of the poor? Or, misguided, corrupt authoritarian?

Resources are below.

As always...

All views and political orientations are welcome.

We welcome beginners and policy wonks alike. Feel free to join the discussion or just to listen and learn.

If you sign up and change your mind, please change your reply so that someone else may attend.

Meetup to last 1.5 hours (until 5:30 PM) although, of course, people are welcome to continue beyond that point.

Resources:

Hugo Chavez: Passionate but Polarizing President (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hugo-chavez-passionate-but-polarizing-venezuelan-president-dead-at-58/2013/03/05/42525790-afdd-11e0-90e1-c12867691ae6_story.html)

Hugo Chavez: Economically Disastrous, Politically Effective (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2013/03/hugo_chavez_s_legacy_the_former_venezuelan_president_was_not_the_typical.html)

Chavez: Hero, Prophet, or Tyrant? (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=1638250n) (4 minute video)

Hugo Chavez Interview (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57572683-10391709/hugo-chavez-the-60-minutes-interview/) (15 minute video from '60 Minutes')

The Hugo Chavez Show (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hugochavez/view/) (90 minute video which profiles Chavez)

Analysis of Chavez Presidency (http://www.cfr.org/venezuela/analysis-hugo-chavez-saw-himself-transitional-figure-venezuelan-history/p30158)