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Chavez, The 'Polite' Socialist

Venezuelan Leader Embraces Cooperation. But Will Kinder Approach Benefit Poor?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week began his third term in office promising to deepen his "Bolivarian revolution" and accelerate his country's march toward "21st-century socialism."

So far Chavez's socialism doesn't look all that different from the 20th-century variety. As he revealed last week, he plans to nationalize strategic industries, eliminate Central Bank autonomy and impose new limitations on private property and free enterprise. He also will move to absorb a television station that has been critical of his government and will bring under state control Venezuela's most important oil fields along the Orinoco River Basin in the northeast.

Not surprisingly, observers in the United States have been roundly critical. "Nationalization has a long and inglorious history of failure around the world," said White House spokesman Tony Snow last week. A New York Times editorial said that "state control is rarely an efficient way to run companies," while The Washington Post concluded that "if the history of socialism is any guide (Venezuelans will have) national impoverishment" to look forward to.

But Chavez didn't choose a socialist model because of its track record. If he means what he says -- and he seems serious enough, to the point of proposing to rename his country the "Socialist Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela"-- he chose it because he is convinced that the alternative capitalist model has made it "impossible to overcome the problems of poverty, misery and inequality."

Go to the full article here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the history of socialism is that of poverty, misery and inequality I'm thinking that fixing those issues isn't first on his agenda.

Lifeline dictatorial power, however, probably fits right in.

January 19, 2007 11:28 AM


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