David Frum exposes How Hugo Chavez brought Afghanistan to South America. Frum, who’s been to Afghanistan and Iraq, traveled to the world’s most dangerous city: Caracas, and found that
The violence in Venezuela isn’t political, exactly. It is more a reflection of the general breakdown of law in a society where every institution of state has been corrupted and degraded.
The police had long since given up patrolling the poor neighborhoods on the hills surrounding central Caracas. Now they had ceased patrolling the high-rent districts, too — that is, when they were not actively in cahoots with the criminals who committed “express kidnappings”: jumping out at a motorist as he punched the keypad to the locked garage beneath his apartment building, putting a gun to his head, and abducting him for two hours. The ransoms were typically relatively small, a few thousand dollars. The kidnappers made their money on volume.
For all the talk about Chavez’s “socialist revolution,” his regime rests, caudillo-style, on the backing of corrupt, drug-dealing generals. Henry Silva Rangel, appointed minister of defense in January 2012, was one of four senior Chavez associates named by the U.S. government in 2008 as Foreign Narcotics Kingpins (yes, that’s the actual title). In a 2010 interview, Rangel warned that the army would not allow the Chavez “revolution” to be voted out of office. Rangel maintains a tight working relationship with another Chavez brother, Adnan, who succeeded Chavez’s father as governor of the family’s home state of Barinas.
Despite vast oil wealth, the Venezuelan economy has tumbled into terrible straits. Inflation roars at 25%, unemployment exceeds 8%, the non-oil economy stagnates, electricity flickers on and off irregularly, and basic commodities such as rice and beans have become scarce in the marketplaces and must be obtained as rations from government-controlled stores.
Yet there remains enough cash on hand for the government to open the spending spigots in election years such as 2012, building showcase housing developments amid the slums, and distributing keys to its most proven supporters.
That would be the boliburguesía, the ” enriched inner circle that will attempt to sustain Chavez-style rule after Chavez’s demise.”
Cuba will not only be the ultimate enforcer of the Pacto de la Habana, but will also try to ensure Latin American diplomatic support for Venezuela’s government when Raúl Castro takes over the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) regional bloc at a ceremony in Chile late this month.
Here’s the situation: As Andres Oppenheimer points out,
Chávez has followed Castro’s model of creating a permanent “state of war” — creating confrontations with the church, the media, the business community or “imperial” powers — to justify his grab of absolute powers.
But Chávez didn’t limit himself to Venezuela; instead, he’s actively fomented a “state of war” by sending money to like-minded heads of state in Latin America – think of Cristina Fernandez’s Falklands saber-rattling – and cozying up to Iran and drug lords (Venezuela’s the #1 shipping point for drugs).
He calls it The War of All the People.
Hugo’s getting away with it because, as Carlos Eire eloquently points out,
covetousness is one key to understanding the pirate empires of Latrine America. The other key is impunity.
Who in the USA is paying attention?
Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.