–While I do not believe Hugo Chavez belongs in the same category as such mass killers as Lenin, Stalin and Mao, his successor Nicolas Maduro seems to think he is deserving of similarly creepy honors. (In Stalin’s case, it was only temporary.)
Venezuela’s acting president says Hugo Chavez’s embalmed body will be permanently displayed in a glass casket so that “his people will always have him.”
Vice President Nicolas Maduro says the remains will be put on permanent display at the Museum of the Revolution, close to the presidential palace where Chavez ruled for 14 years. Maduro says the president will lie in state first for at least another seven days.
–Speaking of mass killers, Syria’s President Assad was gracious enough to take some time out from overseeing the indiscriminate slaughter of his own people to pay tribute to his old friend. As Press TV reports:
“The demise of this unique leader is as much a great loss for me personally and the Syrian people as it is for the people of Venezuela,” Assad said in a statement broadcast on state television on Wednesday.
The Syrian president further offered his condolences to Chavez’s stand-in, Vice President Nicolas Maduro.
Earlier in the day, Syria’s state television also said Chavez had “stood up for legitimate Arab rights, including an honorable stand towards the conspiracy against Syria,” while reporting the incident.
“He repeatedly declared his solidarity with Syria’s leadership and its people in the face of the fierce imperialist attack it was exposed to, and condemned the American pressure (on Syria),” it said.
–In 2007 I posted sceptically about the oil-money-for-technical-expertise agreement between the Venezuelan government and then-London mayor Ken Livingtsone. As reported at the time:
After discussion between Petróleos de Venezuela Europa and the Mayor this benefit will be targeted on Londoners receiving income support who will be able to receive a 50 per cent discount on bus and tram travel – up to 250,000 Londoners will be eligible. London will provide specialist technical assistance to Venezuelan cities in areas such transport, protection of the environment, development of tourism, and town planning.
I’m not sure how this worked out for low-income Londoners (I hope it helped), but according to Dan Hodges in The Telegraph, the technical expertise part of the deal didn’t go so well.
–At The Ottawa Citizen, Terry Glavin (who correctly identifies Chavez as a pretend socialist) writes that the Venezuelan leader “leaves behind a broken and corrupted judiciary, the upper echelons of the country’s armed forces infested with drug lords, millions of Venezuelans living in fear of the knock on the door in the night, a currency worth only a fifth of what it was a decade ago, food shortages, crumbling roads, collapsing bridges, crippling inflation, ballooning deficits, a rigged currency, an epidemic of street crime, and rolling electricity blackouts.”
All of this is verifiable. Here is one example of the food shortages as experienced by a Venezuelan who was just trying to buy flour, sugar and butter so she could bake a damn cake– which I suppose some chavistas will tell us identifies her as a member of the bourgeois elite.
Update: Free and fair election watch:
Admiral Diego Molero Bellavia, the defence minister, fuelled the febrile mood by urging Venezuelans to vote for Chávez’s designated heir, Maduro, and to give opposition “fascists a good hiding” at the polls. He told state TV that the “mission” of the armed forces was to put Maduro in the presidency.