As we’ve written before, Via Meadia wishes ill on nobody, even demagogic thugs who have undermined democracy and done their best to drag their part of this world into a nightmare of corruption and poverty, whatever their intentions. So when we hear the news that Hugo Chavez is once again in Cuba for medical reasons, we hope that he has an actual recovery from whatever ails him, unlike the fake recoveries with which he deceived the Venezuelan people into voting for him in the last election.
But President Chavez could still do some good. It’s clear that his Bolivarian revolution isn’t going to work. Mismanagement and political interference have turned Venezuela’s national oil company into a major underperformer. Suppliers from Canada will soon begin competing with Venezuelan crude in the handful of refineries capable of handling the country’s heavy crude. And his destruction of the institutions, feeble as they were, of Venezuela’s old democratic system will exert a heavier and heavier toll in the future as the networks of clients and patrons he inserted into the Venezuelan state become more corrupt, less competent and more thuggish and violent with the passage of time.
President Chavez’s greatest possible service to the country at this time would be to acknowledge and take responsibility for the failures of his revolution, and to give his successors a free hand for reform and change. He can legitimize the choices that sooner or later Venezuela must make and bless the path those behind him must sooner or later follow. This would mean a lot in Venezuela and could well make the difference between national recovery and decades of instability and polarization.
He probably won’t make this choice, alas, but we live in hope. Many people start to reflect much more deeply and seriously when the end of life approaches, and President Chavez at this point must be well aware of the danger he is in.