Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Outside View: The man who would be king
by James Zumwalt
Herndon, Va. (UPI) Mar 12, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A deadly bacteria superbug has been plaguing U.S. health facilities. The seriousness of this "nightmare bacteria" has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue an alarm. America's best medical minds will determine how to deal with the problem.

A devastating superbug also has been plaguing Venezuela. But the reality of its effects will only be fully understood by its people in the aftermath of Hugo Chavez's death as a new president faces the massive economic and social ills the populist president leaves behind.

The socialism Chavez championed during 14 years of rule has proven to be a superbug of devastation. Unfortunately, many of the best Venezuelan minds needed to deal with these problems have left the country.

When he took office in 1999, Chavez promised change. He promised to redistribute Venezuela's oil-generated wealth. He promised to fix corruption. He promised to give power to the people. He promised to destroy a government foundation built on capitalism, cutting economic and political ties to the United States.

Today, Venezuela suffers one of the world's highest murder rates, double-digit inflation, water and food shortages, a serious downturn in foreign investment, rampant corruption, etc.

Ironically, the only recent economic upturn experienced was in April 2012 after a journalist claimed Chavez was dead. Stock values skyrocketed, only to fall when the claim was found to be untrue.

As a young army officer, Chavez wanted to abolish the country's two-party political system. In 1992, he tried stealing power by leading a failed coup. Imprisoned for two years, he came to realize to steal power, he had to do it legally, working within the country's democratic framework.

Elected in a 1999 landslide, "the man who would be king" immediately sought to become one, chipping away at the country's constitution, vesting himself with monarchial powers.

Appealing to the uneducated poor, using state assets to buy their votes, curtailing criticism by limiting free speech and taking control of the air waves, either arresting opposition members or running them out of the country, Chavez was able to get a number of resolutions passed that effectively put him and his cronies in control of all three government branches.

To gain control over the country's economy, Chavez began nationalizing foreign-owned industries. While gaining popularity with Venezuela's poor, it discouraged foreign investment, further contributing to a downward spiraling economy. Adding to it was the subsequent exodus of Venezuelan businessmen to more favorable economic environments.

Chavez's foreign policy was based on Venezuela's oil, using it to bind together a group of anti-U.S. dictators or dictator wannabes. To his hero Cuba's Fidel Castro, he provided 100,000 barrels a day at subsidized rates. The irony of Cuba's own failed socialist program was lost on Venezuelans who continued to support Chavez's socialist policies. Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador also benefitted from Chavez's oil largess -- all at his people's expense.

To his credit, Chavez contributed to one oil company's economic boom. In 2002, after Venezuelan state oil workers protested against him, Chavez fired 20,000 executives, engineers, geologists and workers. Those 20,000 were eventually replaced by 100,000 inexperienced Chavez supporters. With a fivefold increase on the payroll and oil industry knowledge in short supply, production in Venezuela plunged. Only increased oil prices helped deaden the full financial sting that resulted.

Meanwhile, fired Venezuelan oil workers found an open job market next door in Colombia, triggering that state oil company's subsequent boom.

Much like Egyptian President Abdel Nasser envisioned himself leading an alliance of unified Arab states during the mid-20th century, Chavez envisioned himself atop a Latin American alliance. While both failed (although Chavez made headway), they succeeded in promoting anti-U.S. sentiment. Chavez repeatedly claimed all of Latin America's problems were due to the United States.

Chavez also embraced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, providing his terrorist group Hezbollah, now operating a base there, access. Embracing Iran meant criticizing Israel, so Chavez suddenly became a Palestinian supporter. He claimed their treatment by Israel was evidence of a "new Holocaust." (Since Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust occurred, apparently Chavez's "new" reference escaped Ahmadinejad's scrutiny.)

Chavez was a demagogue who sought to establish himself as the highest authority. While healthy, he criticized the Catholic Church, calling officials "devils in vestments."

Yet later, fighting a losing battle against cancer, he tearfully pleaded for life at a pre-Easter church service.

Reportedly, Chavez's last words were: "I don't want to die. Please don't let me die." Supporters claimed it was out of love for country. The truth is, it was out of love for power.

(Continuing its anti-American policy, the interim government suggested Chavez's cancer was the result of U.S. foul play.)

Socialism is a "nightmare bacteria" that has taken a heavy economic and social toll in both Cuba and Venezuela. The Cubans understand this; soon, so too will the Venezuelans.

Like the cancer that ravaged Chavez, socialism has ravaged Venezuela. Hopefully, the prognosis for Venezuela will prove more optimistic than it did for Chavez. But major surgery by a new leader vested with the best interests of the Venezuelan people in mind will be required to heal the patient.

The man who would be king has left the kingdom in ruins.

(James G. Zumwalt, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and infantry officer, served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Persian Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)


Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Defector's brother given top China post
Beijing (AFP) March 11, 2013
A senior Chinese politician whose brother defected to the US in a major spy scandal was on Monday elected as chairman of the country's highest-profile advisory organisation, state media reported. Yu Zhengsheng, who ranks as number four in the Communist Party's ruling seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, was made head of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), th ... read more

Lunar impacts created seas of molten rock

China to use modified rocket for moon landing mission

Water On The Moon: It's Been There All Along

Building a lunar base with 3D printing

Maryland explores adaptations strategies for survival on Mars

NASA rover finds conditions once suited to life on Mars

Curiosity Rover's Recovery Moving Forward

NASA Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars

Technology to detect Alzheimer's takes SXSW prize

Basketball legend Shaq talks tech at SXSW

UK and Kazakhstan agree collaboration in space

Wyle To Provide NASA Ongoing Support For Human Space Flight

China's fourth space launch center to be in use in two years

China to launch new manned spacecraft

Woman expected again to join next China crew roster

China's space station will be energy-efficient

'Goody Bag' Filled With Sample Processing Supplies Arrives on Station

ESA's Columbus Biolab Facility

SpaceX set for third mission to space station

Record Number of Students Control ISS Camera

Grasshopper Successfully Completes 80M Hover Slam

Musk: 'I'd like to die on Mars'

Ariane 5 vehicle for next ATV resupply mission in Kourou

Vega launcher integration continues for its April mission

Astronomers Conduct First Remote Reconnaissance of Another Solar System

The Birth of a Giant Planet?

Scientists spot birth of giant planet

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Tiny Planet System

Aspirin may lower melanoma risk

NIST quantum refrigerator offers extreme cooling and convenience

Researchers Solve Riddle of What Has Been Holding Two Unlikely Materials Together

Star-shaped waves spotted in shaken fluid

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement