Hugo Chávez: Toxic Brand


How toxic has the Chávez brand gotten in Latin America? So toxic that even the candidates the guy has bought and paid for are forced to distance themselves repeatedly from him in public to preserve their electoral viability.

It’s gotten to the point where even if he won, Humala couldn’t afford the political capital it would take to cozy up to Caracas.

Chávez has spent years assiduously creating the conditions of his own international irrelevance. The reality is that he’s just not a threat to the region anymore. He’s only a threat to Venezuela.

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  1. A funny thing happened on the way to the Revolution…

    Indeed, Chavez has done more to discredit the extreme left in Latin America in the last 11 years, then Castro managed in 50. In fact, I think that when he is finally gone and the stories start to be told, and the full extent of the economic catastrophe in Venezuela is apparent, he may have succeeded in turning Latin America away from this ideology for decades to come. Imagine the stigma of another populist ideologue being labeled “another Chavez”… The name will be synonymous with failed leftist policies.

    • Roy,

      “he may have succeeded in turning Latin America away from this ideology for decades to come.”

      I wish you were right, but I doubt that will happen.The left is teamed up with too many other groups who are not about to go away.

      Besides the only dialogue we can have in Venezuela is about how much free money can be given away, so what option do we have but the left?

      Even in Costa Rica( my husband has close family there), the rich( his family) are, (while not pro Chavez) spouting the same anti- American rubbish and presenting pretty much the core message of Chavez to assuage their guilt.In the meantime, their consciences allow them to live in 5 houses at once, travel the world every 2 months, create a huge carbon footprint while diverting others attentions away from them with their lefty rhetoric 🙂

      My question to them is if they are so interested in helping the poor why aren’t they giving a good part of their fortune away?

      I think we all know the answer to this question in our hearts.

      Unfortunately LA is way to divided by class.

      • Firepigette,

        I was speaking of Latin America in general and I said “decades”, not forever. Humans beings, being what we are, will forget the lesson in a generation or two. Then, well-meaning idealists will start up the next cycle and the pendulum will swing back, once again.

        What arises out of the ashes here in Venezuela is very difficult to predict. Since we do not have strong institutions left in Venezuela, we will be subject to the good (or bad) intentions of the next strongman, whoever that turns out to be.

        • Dear Roy:
          I’m glad to hear someone else drawing attention to the inevitable Chávez afterlife. I still plead with Venzuelans to bust their butts to develop a practical non-ideological constitution to help the army (the only authority left) to expedite the resurrection of political life. Too often the constitution expresses the vague ideoological preferences of a caudillo author rather than a set of clear ground rules anyone decent would accept BEFORE the squabbling. It needs to describe in detail the minimum necessary duties of a government run by any party, and reserve every bit of the rest for the people. Do not demand that government provide immortality. I mourn in advance for a Venezuela that is unprepared to deal with the non-Chávez. You young people have to focus less on issues and ideology and what’s NOT fair and more on what you think IS fundamentally fair and just, because the rules of a SUCCESSFUL nation matter a great deal. And you never grow them “afterwards”. For example, if you do not include the principle of “innocence before proven guilty”, you will never get it from your lawyers and judges.

          I could go on, but I have to work now…



          • Deedle,

            “Do not demand that government provide immortality.” LOL

            On the other hand, why not? We are just as likely to get that as stable monetary policy or even a stable power supply… Sorry. My cynical side is showing.

            Seriously, though… I completely agree with you, even though I don’t yet see the leadership that can implement it.

            In a perfect world, the Opposition would be crafting the next Constitution over the next year before the election, along with contingency plans for the eventual transition.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I heard Peru wasn’t working out so well for Chavez but took real pleasure in reading Humala’s quote that “the government model of Venezuela will not work in Peru.” Hell it ain’t working in Venezuela! Chavez buddies are hiding in bomb bunkers these days. (got any photos of HCF with that Ivory Coast dude that refuses to give up his seat after losing an election last year and is hiding in a bunker, como Gaddafi?)

  3. Humala:
    Nosotros no vamos a aplicar la política de control del tipo de cambio, nosotros no creemos en la reelección indefinida, nosotros vamos a respetar la libertad de prensa y la libertad de expresión, tal es así que yo he firmado un compromiso”, explicó.



  4. I regret to dissent.

    The people around Ollanta Humala are the old communist. One of them, Javier Diez Canseco, said that Cuba has the best democracy in the world (??????).

    I think that if he wins, all his promises will go to the drain, to follow Chavez schema of perpetual presidency (remember Chávez).

    Bolivia has a lot of problems now. I hope that Peru reacts on time.

    • At the end, Humala may decide that he was actually “wrong” and the Chavez way is the way to go.

      Never trust the word of a politician. Especially during the campaign trail.

      • Yeah, Peru is still a part of Latin America and this is just one of those places where you can say/do anything and get away with it quite handily. There’s always that wonderful interview with Chavez in 1998 where he says he won’t embark on massive nationalizations or stay past his alloted term…yeah that was a load of rubbish. The point is, we don’t function like other regions when it comes to political systems. You can say and do whatever you want and the mass of voters are either too uneducated and uninvolved or simply don’t give a damn enough to hold their leaders accountable when they do the exact opposite of what they promised.

          • Well, I think that we saved ourselves from Zelaya thanks to a very few quick-witted people that really didn’t give a damn about what the rest of the world thought of their actions. (Roberto Micheletti, las FFAA, a few shady businessmen) I think the mass of Honduran voters would’ve been more than happy to let things run along regardless of who came out on top. I wish this weren’t the case but when I see the rest of Latin America there are a lot of very smart people living under some really crap leaders. I think we just happened to get lucky.

        • This would be a good study! Play a video of Chavez making promises, and let voters choose a response from a selection. Go through various promises and see the statistics.

        • Oh, let’s see:
          (1) I don’t give a damn
          (2) I’m too uneducated
          (3) Anyway, I expected him to do the opposite
          (4) I’m disappointed and won’t vote for him again (as though it matters, the elections are fixed!)

  5. Your comment that Chávez is no longer a threat to the region implies that he once was a threat to it. But, thank God, that is just your opinion.

    From my point of view he was never a “threat to the region”. Was he invading countries? No. Was he fomenting coups? No. Well, what was he doing? Oh, yes, we all remember, he was trying to unite the countries in South America and the Carribbean as a block against US hegemony and neocapitalist, neoimperial and neoconservative policies which all favor the transnational corporations.

    And I’ll guess you will say that he was supporting ther FARC and Fidel and exporting uranium to Iran and building nuclear bombs in the bicycle and tractor factory jointly run by VenIran in Bolivar state?

    So, what you mean, Francisco, is that Chavez was a threat to the US influence in the region. Well, I’m sorry to inform you that Unasur exists. ALBA exists. (But I guess that these are “irrelevant” for you and you prefer the OAS, the Paris and Madrid clubs, the Bilderberg Group and the UN).

    South America is not ruled any more by US puppets with one or two exception. And above all, China is now Latin America biggest trading partner and FDI investor. Why do you think that Dilma’s first trip outside of Brazil is to meet Hu Jintao and not Obama?

    So, your post just betrays what YOU support. It is the exploitation of Latin America in its worst possible form and anyone who questions that, such as Chávez, is a threat, as far as you are concerned.

    Your intelligence level has sunk to an all time low with this Freudian slip of your semantics. Because Chávez was only a threat to vested interests and does not pose any such threat to any country in the region.

    Do you disagree or are you now going to disprove these facts by quoting media lies from El Nacional, El Universal, Rafael Poleo and Jackson Diehl, for example?

    • Only closing commercial relationships with Colombia because of pettiness. No big deal. Or sending thugs with dollars for political campaigns oin other countries…

    • It’s ok to lash out, Arturo. I understand it stings to see the dream vanish. You can take it out on me all you want. But I’m not the one who’s made the Chávez model so toxic even a guy like Humala has to run furiously in the opposite direction to keep a chance of winning an election. The failure is too deep, too all encompassing to hide at this point. The game is up. You know it. Humala knows it. Everyone knows it.

      Boatloads of good will and a trillion dollars in oil revenues sacrificed at the altar of one guy’s monstrously hypertrophied ego. I’m sure it sucks to see it happening right in front of your eyes. It’s only natural to lash out.

      • It’s unfortunate that you cannot admit to your own beliefs when the system YOu support and the benefits it gave to your social class “vanished before your eyes”.

        This harping on about Humala distancing himself from Chavez is also pretty irrelevant. The fact thqt Chavez has been an element is many elections up and down the continent for years and used as the “bogey man” in campaigns and by the media (all controlled by the right) simply illustrates his importance and his threat to vested interests.

        Whatever. But I guess you’ll be closing down CC in December 2012 after Chavez is reelected…..and it won’t be the firt time that you will have done it.

        • Hugo Chavez (and XXI Century Socialism) could as well have an alternative motto:

          “Everyone in life has a purpose, even if its to serve as a BAD EXAMPLE”

          Being a bogey-man and a threat might be a mark of honor for rogues and other people make violence their trade. Even secret-police officials in tyrannies.

          But you need industrial-strength (revolutionary-level) idiocy to make it a mark of pride for anyone associated with a government. That is, unless the stated purpose IS tyranny. Maybe Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Mao, whose stated purpose was tyranny, could be happy to be bogeymen.

    • I can hear the melody Arturo:
      “Tooooooooooooooodoooooooooooo se derrumbooooooooooooooooo”

      That sinking feeling sucks doesn´t it, we´ve had it for 10 years… Your turn!

    • It has be documented how the Chavez Robolucion is commiting resoerces (money) to support communist candidates around Latin America. Yes he is /was a threat

  6. Take the most extreme a public figure has ever said on record to approximate their true beliefs. Unless they do a public recantation, with a good dose of public self-lashing and other penitence, that is. You would have to have a wild imagination to attribute a hateful or lunatic opinion to Ollanta Humala, that he has not expressed before. Enough said.

    The people who would vote Toledo, Kuczynsky and even Fujimori have something NOT to tolerate and NOT to live under; a Humala government. There will simply be no place for them in Peru with Humala. Thus whoever goes into second round with Humala wins.

    Quico is right: Chavez is a threat to Venezuela. He amplifies the worst of our vices and fantasies. Roy is also right: Chavez is set to make free market liberals out of Venezuelans in the end, just as Castro will end making all Cubans rabid anticommunists. His brand of “Socialismo” has been so bad that it seems that the “o Muerte” alternative was not that, an alternative.

  7. Funny how Humala in the picture is wearing the typical light-blue shirt worn by politicians when they wish to look like “corderitos”. Remember “Good Chávez” during that electoral campaign when he said his famous “Todo lo he hecho por amor”? He was wearing the exact same shirt.

  8. One thing about Perú comes to mind when I read your post Q. When I was there a few years ago, the magazine Caretas published a picture of Chávez bold and photoshopped as Mini Me on its cover. I found it very sharp as a critique of our Narcissus-in-chief, but paid no deed to it because I thought it was a high- to middle-brow discourse that would not reach the “cerros”. At this point, to my surprise, driving south I saw the very same image of Chávez/Mini-Me covering the wall that borders one of Lima’s largest slums. I cannot say that such was the case for every entrance to a barrio in the city; but it let me wonder.
    It also made me think about the fight against the foes of liberal democracies the mix of militarism and nationalism represent. Were the Peruvians smarter that us in their opposition to Chávez fascistic madness? after all, they had experienced someone like Velasco Alvarado; or else, have they been they so lucky that the clown happens to be ours (and his sidekick rules south of them) that any effort to oppose their “project” comes ready-made and turn-key?
    Perú is after all a country of extremes, the first country in the region to have a coherent proto-Marxist thought, as well as a right-wing one. Both started in the XIXth century and developed throughout. Strange as it may sound, we will be able to see if they may have actually learnt something from their history!

  9. Funny how demagoguery and populism works.
    people like arturo see only the empire,and the minions and the multinationals and FTAs.

    They don’t see bad management,increased poverty,crime, lack of housing,lack of opportunities and unhappiness. They don’t even see that Venezuela lost its president in ’98. We’ve had nothing in the executive power. But sure, mientras esten peleando el imperio no me importa comer mierda.

    • People locked out of the mainstream and living in poverty don’t know or care what the middle class is losing. If nothing else, maybe it gives them a feeling of justified “pay-back!” Furthermore, they believe, because it gives them hope, that Hugo Chavez feels their pain.

  10. In fact Chavez keep being a menace in South America, but not through his political allies, but his supporting of left-wing guerrillas. The support to the FARC is out of doubt, and it is suspected that he is supporting left-wing activist and the remaining of Sendero Luminoso.

      • 1995 called, it wants its old meme back.

        Sendero Luminoso has killed at least 48 people since 2002. You may dismiss that as “anti-commie” hysterics, but that doesn’t change the facts.

        Seriously, are you just intentionally trying to be a dick in your recent posts, or does that just come naturally?

        Yeah, yeah, no one’s holding a gun to my head and forcing me to read anything. And you do it for free. And it’s your blog, not mine. Did I cover the usual replies already?

        • Si vale dickishness flakes off of me like it only could…from a dick!

          Mira, I don’t doubt that *some* jews profiteered during the 1920s’ German hyperinflation. With what came after it, it’s in extremely poor taste to make a big deal out of it.

          The kind of anti-Sendero discourse Eduardo’s into was used throughout the 90s in Peru to PIONEER the kind of neo-authoritarianism Chavez went on to dress up in leftist garb and ram down our collective throats. In the Peruvian context, everyone knows what the score is: strident anti-Senderismo = tolerate autocracy. Sorry, but I’m not getting on that bus…

          • Sendero Luminoso in Google News gets a fair amount of hits.

            From El Comercial of April 2:
            “Militares peruanos capturaron a cuatro miembros de Sendero Luminoso, dos de ellos identificados como líderes del grupo armado, durante una operación comando en el valle de los ríos Apurímac y Ene.”

            Current operations of Sendero Luminoso are not simply figments of the imaginations of those allegedly advocating the neo-authoritarianism Quico is talking about.

          • Just because a group uses the name Sendero Luminoso doesn’t make it in any real sense the continuation of the historical Sendero Luminoso. Latin America may be stuck with a lunatic fringe of far-left violent types, but anti-senderista rhetoric is way, way more of a threat to peruvian democracy than these retread nutters.

  11. Those “retarded nutters” are actively killing people. To equate calls to stop them to some sort of fascist shibolet is to take your usual comeflorismo from naivette and into idiocy.

    Whoever they are, and whatever they’re calling themselves, they’re responsible for dozens of actual deaths. That is a fact.

    “Sendero Luminoso”, or any other name by which they care to go, must be stopped. That is also a fact.

    If you believe that those two facts are more of a threat than actual, verified, quantified murders, then I don’t know what to tell you. Enjoy the detached theorizing, I guess.

  12. Francisco:

    Toledo liberated around 500 guerrilleros of Sendero Luminoso. Many of these people left their home again, to the “armed fight”. In 2003 Sendero kidnapped a bunch of managers of TGP in 2003, and it was commented that they were liberated after a payment. I WAS IN AYACUCHO AROUND THAT TIME.

    Sendero keeps on indoctrinating, cooperating with narcotraffic, issuing menaces against the population (yesterday in Cangallo, a town 3 hours south of Ayacucho city).

    You should not believe that Sendero’s menace can be taken slightly!

  13. “Humala tiene un 31,9 por ciento de intención de voto y Fujimori un 22,3 por ciento, contra un 17,3 del liberal Pedro Pablo Kuczynski y un 15,3 del expresidente centrista Alejandro Toledo”.

    Go, go Chavmala, go, and then you can become another Lucio Gutierrez…..or another Rafael Correa….who knows?

  14. Now the Peruvian opposition is playing the Chavez card against Chavmala.

    If this is true – which I doubt based on the refusal by Roman to name names, then this is money well spent by Chavez in his quest to emulate Simon Bolivar. Peru was the center of the Spanish Empire and is key to isolate Piñera and Santos if necessary.

  15. Arturo:

    If Peru were spending money in supporting the opposition, Chavez could be throwing people into jail, calling his ambassador back to Caracas, speaking on interference in internal politics, and so on. This is an interference, and a shame.

    On the other way, his wife has been receiving a substantial amount of money each month, that comes from a Venezuelan company, supposedly for “consulting services”.

    So you should abstain of playing innocent….

    Anyway, it’s doubtful that Ollanta Humala reach the presidence in Peru. Maybe Chavez will end like the idiotic regime of Mao Tse Tung, throwing money to anyone who said was a follower of Mao’s doctrine.

  16. Eduardo – have you absolutely no sense of humor or irony? Until there is concrete proof that Chavez is funding Humala, then it’s just rumors. In any case, just look at the make up of Chavmala’s umbrella party Gana Perú:

    Alianza Gana Perú
    Peruvian Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista Peruano)
    Socialist Party (Partido Socialista)
    Peruvian Communist Party (Partido Comunista del Perú)
    Revolutionary Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Revolucionario)
    Political Movement Socialist Voice (Movimiento Político Voz Socialista)

    This sez it all. Ity doesn’t matter if Chavez is behind it or not. Looks like Humala will be in round 2 with Keiko….unless he wins outright in Round 1.

    Is this party a threat to continental stability as Francisco would say??????

    • Hey wait a minute…. but I thought the Chavez brand was so “toxic” that Peruvians would never vote for someone so closely aligned to Chavez!!!

      Oh well, Toro wrong once again.

  17. Arturo:

    Here are the reference of money from Venezuela:

    Does en bussinessman in Venezuela need counselling from Peru? Nadine Heredia is not known as international consultant. US$ 8000 each month? A fortune in Peru.

    One should not deny the obvious. At least, don’t pretend that WE are stupid.

    On the other side, ONPE, in Peru, is reporting the following:
    -Ollanta 28.1%.
    -Keiko 22.5%.
    -Kuczynski: 22.3%.

    It seems that Keiko will be competing against Ollanta. I feel Ollanta has no chance against her. And she is the most feared candidate by peruvians left winged parties.

    • No, sorry Setty but the money trail between Chavez moneymen and Humala’s household finances is pretty direct – even acknowledged by the guy. This is from Simón Romero’s thing in The New York Times, the other day:

      Mr. Humala’s family has also aroused doubts among some voters, especially over whether his recent distancing from Venezuela is merely cosmetic. He acknowledged that his wife, Nadine Heredia, had received a monthly stipend from a Venezuelan company. News media here reported that she got $4,000 a month from The Daily Journal, a now defunct Caracas newspaper.

      “That’s all in the past, and the amount was no great thing,” Mr. Humala said.

      And that back in 2006, during the brief-but-munificent reign of Chávez’s Peruvian crony-in-chief Julio Augusto López.

      Whether you think $4,000 a month is “gran cosa” or not, the link is direct.


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