Hugo Chavez, who had been the President of Venezuela since 1999 and a world leader who is an actual socialist because of his actions and not just because those who oppose him call him one, died on Tuesday due to cancer.
The deceased Venezuelan leader had been battling cancer since sometime last year. It is unknown what type of cancer Chavez was diagnosed with since the leader was known to be quite secretive, in true socialist fashion. This is in stark contrast to the leaders of non-socialist countries, such as the United States, where everyone becomes aware of a leader smoking a cigarette.
Chavez’s record of actual socialism was well known, as he came to power on promises to help redistribute the wealth by directing the nation’s oil profits towards massive social programs, such as providing state funded universities. He also acted independently to put more aspects of the government under executive branch control, such as Venezuela’s judiciary, electoral authorities, and the military. This is drastically different than the non-socialist United States, where a President can’t just act on his own, but must rather get approval through Congress because of the constitutionally protected separation of powers.
In 2005 Chavez even said that “the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism. The path is socialism.” Relatively strong pro-socialist remarks, compared to the remarks of someone often incorrectly labeled a socialist, like Barack Obama, who once said “Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation.”
Chavez’s government also made a point to ruthlessly go after and shut down every media outlet that would dare to challenge his regime. This would of course never happen in an obviously non-socialist country, like the United States, where the First Amendment protects the right of, say, Fox News, to constantly mock and criticize the President with no fear of retribution.
There was also the comfort for Chavez to implement any policy he wanted, as he recently rewrote the Venezuelan constitution so that he would never have to face another election for the rest of his life. This is very different than in the United States, a country where the leader is often called a socialist, but yet recently faced an election in which the American people could have changed the country’s direction if they so chose. Even with Obama’s reelection, due to term limits, his time as President will end on January 20, 2017. You know, compared to the actual socialist Chavez, who could have been the leader of Venezuela beyond 2050 if he lived that long.
With Chavez’s passing there is a very uncertain political future ahead for Venezuela. One can only hope that their country will gain the same freedoms enjoyed by Americans, such as calling their non-socialist leader a socialist with no fear of repercussions by the government.