Contrary to the conventional wisdom in the international media that Chavez was the political heir of
Like Peron, Chavez was a military officer and coup plotter who first flirted with fascism, later turned to the left, and once in power gave millions to the poor thanks to a boom in world commodity prices, which set him apart from previous Venezuelan presidents who had only paid lip service to the country's poverty-stricken masses. And like Peron, Chavez was a narcissist - he once used the word "I" 489 times in just one speech (on
Chavez's influence in
When he took office in 1999, oil prices hovered around
By 2006, Chavez was giving away up to
Many of his grandiose money pledges never materialized - like a pipeline that was supposed to go from
But Chavez's influence abroad began after oil prices reached a record
And regardless of who will run
According to most forecasts,
But at home in
From now on, much like happened in
And much like happened in
"Chavez will become a cultural icon: we will see T-shirts with Chavez's face, much like we see T-shirts with
"Chavez is no longer alive to keep the Chavista movement united, like Peron was after he was thrown out of office," Lousteau said. "Without a charismatic leader, and with a deteriorating economy, Chavismo will implode."
Much like we had military dictatorships in the 1970s, social democracies in the 1980s, pro-free market governments in the 1990s, and "Chavismo" in the 2000s, we may be entering a new decade of something different - hopefully democratic pragmatism.
But Chavez's undeserved image as the region's biggest champion of the poor - in fact, countries such as
- Latin America's Fastest-Growing Economies
- A Post-Castro Era Looms for Cuba
- It's Time to Delist Cuba
- Evolving United States - Mexico Relations
- Mexico's Drug War: Balkanization Leads to Regional Challenges
- Venezuela's Maduro Off to a Bad Start
- Venezuelan Opposition Leader Gains New Political Clout
- Venezuela's Maduro Hurts his Own Case
- Venezuela Lags Behind in Social Gains
- Argentine President May Be Hurt by 'Francismania'
- A Guatemalan Tyrant Faces Justice at Last
- The Free Market Experiment in Latin America
- Surprise! Mexico Backs Human Rights Cause!
- The Deal That America and Russia Must Make Following Chavez's Death
- Venezuela Election: David vs Goliath Contest
- Venezuelan Elections: Rehabilitated Neoliberalism vs 21st Century Socialism
- Chavez: American Nemesis, Latin American Hero
- Open Letter to The Economist - RE: 'Hugo Chavez's Rotten Legacy'
- Argentine Pope Could Impact Politics in Latin America
- Argentina Shoots Itself in the Foot Over Falkland/Malvinas Islands
- Brazil Should Stop Being Self-Absorbed Giant
- Mexico's Education Reform May Prove Historic
- Everybody is Upbeat on Mexico — Except Mexicans
- NAFTA at 20: The New Spin
- Venezuela Vice President Maduro Will Raise Anti-American Rhetoric - For Now
- Chavez's Populism will Remain Popular for Decades
- Ecuador, The Dictatorship of the 21st Century?
- With Chavez Absent, Venezuela is in Limbo
- United States - Europe Deal Will Impact Latin America
- Latin America's Corruption Starts at Top
- Argentina-Iran Deal Makes a Mockery of Justice
- Haiti's Man-Made Hell
- Salvadoran Gang Leaders Achieve a Measure of Redemption
- Latin America Should Not Be an Asterisk
- Militarizing Latin America: Four More Years
- Latin America's New Leader: Raul Castro
- The Falklands Referendum: A Hemispheric Balancing Act
- Argentina's Leader Populist, But No Longer Popular
- Mexico's Cartels and the Economics of Cocaine
- Super-Rich Pay Lower Taxes in Latin America
(c) 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.