Marc Cooper on Hugo Chavez
Posted on Oct 11, 2007
By Marc Cooper
On the foreign plane, Chavez has also consolidated his position, lubricating a number of regional trade agreements with billions of dollars. And not just regional. He’s built an ever-closer relationship with oil-rich Iran, whose leader he has praised as a “great anti-imperialist.” Coming from a socialist, it is a rather discomforting characterization of an Iranian regime committed to the suppression of all socialists, leftists, and secularists.
By Bart Jones
Steerforth, 568 pages
By Gregory Wilpert
Verso, 352 pages
By Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka
Random House, 352 pages
No one can predict how the Chavez story will end. But some basic lessons can already be drawn from his first near-decade in power. The Washington Consensus of free-market capitalism, at least as implemented by paper-thin democracies in Latin America, has utterly failed to provide a decent way of life for a majority of the population. As grotesque as he sometimes looms, Hugo Chavez is but a Frankenstein monster cooked up in the lab of failed economic and political orthodoxy. But just as certain, Chavez’s alternatives are still a long way from the “better world” prophesized by Wilpert. With each passing day, it seems, “21st Century Socialism” as served up by Hugo Chavez is more redolent of the same authoritarian and demagogic stench that permeated the failed revolutions of yore.
Marc Cooper is a contributing editor to The Nation and a special correspondent for The Huffington Post. He teaches journalism at the USC Annenberg School, where he also is associate director for its Institute for Justice and Journalism. A former translator to Chilean President Salvador Allende, his memoir “Pinochet and Me” was a Los Angeles Times bestseller.
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