The only things Hugo Chavez has delivered in abundance to Venezuelans are shortages, inflation, and murder. Literally.
The country is experiencing rampant power and water shortages, has one of the worst inflation problems in the world, and its murder rate has sky-rocketed under Chavez’s watch.
Having run out of capitalists to scapegoat and loot, he’s now trying to distract people from the country’s major economic problems by instigating a war with Colombia.
What’s the opposite of rolling over in one’s grave? That’s what Ayn Rand must be doing. This is going exactly as expected:
Washington Post: “Let’s not waste a day on our main aim: to prepare for war and to help the people prepare for war,” the strongman told his military leaders.
We’ll accept that this is just another instance of Mr. Chávez’s buffoonery. Still, it’s worth noting: This is the second time in less than 18 months that Mr. Chávez has ordered troops to the Colombian border and suggested that hostilities were imminent. In the past few years he has spent more than $4 billion on arms purchases from Russia alone. He claims to be worried that a recent U.S. agreement with Colombia, under which U.S. Air Force and Navy units will have expanded access to military bases, is meant to facilitate a U.S. invasion of Venezuela. In fact, he has something to worry about: The bases will be used for U.S. drug surveillance flights, and Mr. Chávez is known to be cooperating with terrorist organisations that are trafficking drugs from Colombia through Venezuela.
Few believe that Mr. Chávez will start a war with Colombia. But then, as a couple of seasoned Latin American observers have pointed out, no one believed Argentina’s similarly beleaguered strongman, Leopoldo Galtieri, when he began threatening to take Argentina to war with Britain in 1982. In the annals of the region’s authoritarian populism, stranger things have happened.