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A Year After Hugo Chavez Death And His Revolution Is Crumbling

A year ago today Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez died after a long battle with cancer. The country was consumed by grief and a lot of people nearly canonized the guy in their minds. But things look very different only a year later. Riots and mass protests have rocked the country over the last few weeks as increasing numbers of Venezuelans have grown unhappy with the direction the country is going in. Chavez’s hand picked successor Nicolas Maduro’s government is being blamed for the country’s growing woes. Rising crime rates, mass unemployment, a plummeting economy, and increasingly draconian methods from Maduro’s government has led to widespread unrest. So, why has Chavez’s revolution fallen apart so quickly?

The reality is that these problems are nothing new. They have been steadily coming on for years now under Chavez’s watch. The reason that these demonstrations didn’t happen earlier was because of Chavez himself. He built a cult of personality around himself that led many in Venezuela to view him as a quasi-messiah. Chavez quite literally made himself out to be the successor of Simon Bolivar. He captivated the crowds with his undeniable charisma and his promises of a socialist utopia in South America. But his policies simply don’t work. Based largely on his friend and mentor Fidel Castro’s failed ideas that have ruined Cuba economically, these policies simply aren’t sustainable in a modern 21st century economy if they ever worked at all.

Is a cult of personality enough to keep a system of government afloat? There is no denying the power a charismatic leader can have over the masses. Especially one who promises a miraculous rebirth to the suffering millions stuck in the cycle of poverty and despair. Chavez was the glue that held his revolution together in the same way that his buddies the Castro brothers and the memory of their revolution largely keeps the Cuban system in place. But when that glue disappears people wake up and look around them and see that they’ve been had. You only need to look at the history of dictators in the 20th century to see this phenomenon played out all over the world. Chavez’s promises have not only not come true, they’ve made things worse. Maduro simply doesn’t have that illusive “it” factor that made Chavez such a dynamic leader. It will be interesting to see when all the dust settles from these demonstrations what the people of Venezuela will think of Hugo Chavez.

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