On March 5, 2013, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez bought nationalized the farm. And not a moment too soon. (Seriously: Why the hell are there still communist leaders in 2013?)
Of course, his buddies were quick to get all emotional and repeat claims that the United States had killed him with some kind of cancer ray.
“We have no doubt that Commander Chavez was attacked with this illness,” charged Vice President Nicolás Maduro, after kicking two American military attachés out of the country. “The old enemies of our fatherland” — he’s talking about u.s. — “looked for a way to harm his health.”
The United States, of course, denied the charges.
“We completely reject the Venezuelan government’s claim that the United States is involved in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said. “We reject the specific allegations against members of our embassy.”
All this is part of the script: U.S.A. kills commie strongman, commie strongman’s hapless henchmen throw hissy fit, U.S.A. denies the charges, life goes on. The only problem here is that we definitely didn’t kill Mr. Chavez. And Mr. Maduro probably knows that, too. Because as any follower of current events knows, the U.S. gave up on things like commie-killing-cancer-rays years ago.
Back in the day, the CIA came up with all kinds of awesome gear to kill foreign dictators. Things like diseased wetsuits, poisoned cigars and brightly painted underwater conch shells — that explode. But in recent years, as socialists backed by Mr. Chavez spread throughout Latin America, the United States stood by and simply watched. No poison syringes, no ex-lover assassins, no sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads.
But in a day and age when the president says that running a little cool water over a mass murderer’s head is torture, what more can we expect?
And sharks and laser beams aside, the long-pending death of Mr. Chavez poses a question that begs an answer: What next, U.S.?
For years in a post-Soviet world, Mr. Chavez’s nationalized oil wells have allowed allies from the Castro brothers to the Sandinistas (to Joe Kennedy) to outrun the pain their socialist policies guarantee. But now that Mr. Chavez is dead, the survival of his regime — and, with that, the continued flow of oil money to allies — is in question.
As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said,”The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” On Wednesday morning, these men will be staring at their advisers wondering, “What now, comrades?”
Indeed, over an impressive decade in power, Mr. Chavez not only radicalized his country, he inspired others across South and Central America to follow suit. And in a region still wounded by decades of Cold War civil wars, many of these devotees were able to gain real traction, winning elections and forming a bloc of countries staunchly opposed to the Yanks, with their cancer rays and all.
Weakened by the death of their leader — and the slow, but very likely, collapse of his regime — the only thing guaranteed to stave off the side effects of cheap-oil-withdrawal will be economic reform. And though many of Mr. Chavez’s acolytes will likely disregard this inevitability until their countries lay in true ruin, it is, still, an inevitability. And the United States should be there to lend a helping hand.
Mr. Chavez spent his life legislating against human nature, railing against reality. In the end, he succumbed to nature, and cold reality is what lays in store for his friends and countrymen. The strongman’s demise could end up just another footnote in Latin America’s tortured history, or, with U.S. involvement, it could usher in a time of peace and prosperity for a people long denied those things by thugs like Mr. Chavez.
President Barack Obama’s State Department will almost certainly fail in this endeavor. But hey — there’s always next time.