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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Chávez's Socialism Is Not the Answer

From John Hughes in the Christian Science Monitor:

Chávez's muddle-headed concept of socialism for Latin America is often confusing. He says it is "to transcend the capitalist model," and that it is not communism, at least not "at the moment," but is the alternative to communism, building a "social, humanist, egalitarian economy." Often his philosophy sounds less like a vision for the future than a rant against what he decries as American "imperialism." He has also paid a state visit to Iran, praising the leadership of its mullahs.

Two potential negatives loom for Chávez. One is his dependence on oil, and his current reckless spending of oil revenues based on the resource's current high prices. If the bubble should burst, he would be hard put to continue expanding social services at home and financing revolution throughout Latin America.

The other problem is the inevitable departure from the scene of his comrade-in-arms, Fidel Castro. Castro is 78 years old, and one or two recent lapses suggest that he is in failing health. The likelihood of Cuba's continuing along the path of communism after Castro seems slim. Communism in Cuba is already discredited with the masses and is held nominally in place by Castro's reign of oppression. Cuba's people are the prisoners of a regime that offers them neither political freedom nor a free market economy.

Neither communism, nor Chávez's woolly "not-communism-at-the-moment" kind of socialism seems likely to be a panacea for the challenges of today's Latin America.

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