Op-Ed: The monstrous legacy of Hugo Chavez should not be celebrated

Posted Mar 7, 2013 by Andrew Moran
It's that time again. The intellectuals of society, media pundits, Hollywood celebrities and politicians will celebrate and admire a leader who embraced socialism, confiscated private property, murdered his opposition and imposed failed economic policies.
Hugo Chavez has lost his battle with cancer
Hugo Chavez has lost his battle with cancer
Marcello Casal Jr./Abr
Whether it’s Sean Penn, Oliver Stone or Danny Glover, a number of individuals become jejune when they’re around violent and oppressive socialist leaders, like Fidel Castro and the late Hugo Chavez. For some reason, those who relish in an ideology of poverty, misery and death, turn into giggly schoolchildren.
This week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez passed away at the age of 58 from cancer. His death made headline news around the world and many now are looking at his past and the country that he governed for more than 14 years. Although a certain sector of society enjoys picturing a socialist utopia, such as Chavez lifting an impecunious population into affluence, the facts of his legacy suggest otherwise.
“Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion.” Penn told The Hollywood Reporter. “I lost a friend I was blessed to have.”
Food shortages
Price controls have never worked. They have been tested over and over again, even in the United States, a land that has supposedly fully embraced the ideals of capitalism and free markets, and not one time has the proposal succeeded in achieving its original aims.
In the beginning of 2009, Chavez imposed measures that were intended to aid the impoverished. His government instituted production quotas and price controls on cooking oil, white rice, sugar, coffee, flour, margarine, pasta, cheeses and tomato sauce. Rice, for instance, which is a staple for much of the country, was only permitted to be sold for 2.15 bolivars ($0.34USD), even though companies had insisted that production of the food item costs 4.41 bolivars ($0.70USD).
"If any industry wants to ride roughshod over the consumers, with a view to getting better dividends, we are going to act," said Carlos Osorio, the national superintendent of silos and storage. "For the government, access to food is a matter of national security."
What transpired? Food shortages. Grocery shopping for millions of Venezuelans turned into a difficult endeavor as it became an unremitting aspect of daily life. Meat, milk and toilet paper were some of the shortages that occurred. Indeed, the food products that were intended to be made available for the deeply impoverished became the hardest to locate.
Why did this happen? Surely the wisdom of socialist leaders would lead to vast inventories of food, beverages and common household products at a fraction of the price that it would rain down on the populace (sarcasm). No, it was simply the economics of the matter. Let’s look at the price controls of New York City following the aftermath of World War II.
The purpose of the price controls was to help the returning soldiers find residences. What happened? There was a shortage of rental housing and the monthly rates of existing apartments increased dramatically. This occurred because new owners didn’t enter the marketplace and existing landlords left the market or they didn’t maintain the property due to a paucity of incentives.
Americans must surely remember the price controls of Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. At first, they were deemed a success, but as months went by it became a dismal failure because there were shortages of ordinary products at the grocery store, while Americans protested because their wages didn’t keep up with the rate of inflation – the inflation rate started at four percent and more than doubled to nine percent a few years later.
Now, Argentina recently announced that it is implementing price controls in order to fight off inflation. Of course, business leaders and economists are already warning about the short- (shortages) and long-term (quality, supply) ramifications.
Chavez hurt the poor more than he helped.
Private property confiscation
Chavez adopted this policy from Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The Venezuelan leader nationalized private businesses, such as food companies, beer makers, steel mills, cement makers, farms, hotels and holiday homes. Of course, some of these actions were not done peacefully.
It was reported that the Venezuelan dictator had taken over a 370-acre ranch in Yaracuy state that farms oranges and coffee and raises cattle with 38 other shareholding farm workers. It was owned by former Venezuelan President of the United Nations Security Council Diego Arria, who was a staunch critic of Chavez.
Arria had told news outlets that he was pressured to give up the land for about two years and was the victim of vandalism, kidnapping and death threats. Finally, the government took over the land and opened it up to Chavista leaders from the National Institute of Lands, who immediately decimated the land by desecrating a chapel dedicated to the man’s daughter, rolled over his bed and searched through his wife’s clothing.
Chavez had to gloat, however. There was a photo-op of at least 300 children swimming in Arria’s swimming pool, riding the farm’s horses, touring the primary residence and even being encouraged to steal household items all in the name of “socializing happiness.”
I wonder how Penn would feel if someone took all of his private property away and his fans started to enter his home without his permission all in the name of “socializing happiness.” I doubt he’d be thrilled with the concept.
Oh, look. An authoritarian socialist leader and the lack of private property rights are leading to extensive violence. Who would have realized? Murder, which has been the basis of Chavez’s reign as leader, is quite ubiquitous in the country. Since he entered office in 1999, murder rates in the nation’s cities have quadrupled: there is one murder every 90 seconds.
Crime, akin to food shortages, is a chronic element in day-to-day living in the Latin American country. Roughly 96 percent of all murder victims are poor and lower-middle class, which are people that Chavez said he represented and cared about.
Instead of utilizing firing squads, a procedure demonstrated by other socialist and communist leaders throughout history, he used criminals to do his dirty work and tossed dissidents in prison, shut down newspapers that criticize him and ordered the killings of his political opponents by his government’s security agents.
No wonder why he was “popularly elected!” All of his opponents were afraid to speak out or if they did they were just thrown into jail or murdered by his armed thugs.
These three issues are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the torment that Venezuelans face every day of their lives. When will the elitists realize that socialism is an utter failure and has forced millions of people around the world in history into miserable conditions.
Sorry, Congressman Jose E. Serrano, former President Carter and Penn, Chavez will only be missed by those who do not understand the atrocious consequences of socialism. His legacy, however, will be misconstrued and modified to suit the motives of those who promote such a monstrous ideal. Much like Che Guevara, Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung have been heroically remembered.