Bush baiting aside what kind of leader is Venezuela's Chavez?

Productive and honest? Corrupt? Fair? Authoritarian?

Objectively, how is he doing in terms of leading his country and providing good governance?

I don’t know much about him, but there aren’t many who claim he was not elected fairly.

Hard to complain when the opposition predicted a while ago that oil production was going to be mishandled by him. They were wrong. The oposition also did not convince me Chavez was dishonest when I caught them attempting to twist the Exit Polls to yet again attempt to overtrow the government (it was so pathetic even Carter lost patience with them).

With more time and power it is always possible in Latin America.

I can report that even after the coup the big private newspapers and TV channels that supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president are still publishing and broadcasting. (Of course, they are screaming that new laws directed at what they did during the coup are unfair)

After what the opposition (the well-to-do really) attempted to do I would understand Chavez if he goes hard on the opposition, but I would not approve, as always my democratic leanings tell me that would be the end of him, so far I have seen reports that local police is harassing and threatening specific members of the opposition and there are suspicious killings from authorities that are not being investigated properly according to Human Rights Watch.
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/venezu12258.htm

Hard to be objective on this, the sad reality is that the coup and elections discredited the mainstream (conservative) media in Venezuela and the mainstream in the USA continues to rely on them AFAIK. Although in favor of Chavez, I have found Venezuelan Analysis to be more reliable so far:

The truth IMO is between the Human rights report and the Venezuelan Analysis.

As to the title question, from here (pretty close) it looks like the answer is “populist nationalist” – he whips up the masses telling them what they want to hear and making a big show of socking it to The Man. There is no sign (yet, as GIGObuster points out) of major personal corruption.

He’s not a “dictator”, he’s more like a rework of the old-style Political Boss – he, or if you will, the “movement” created around him, is lawfully elected and operating, but is unchecked. The opposition, as it was, sat out the last elections so every branch of government is clean-sweep Chavista. That is not healthy, long term, because it makes it easy to feel entitled to make your will the law. Something’s illegal/unconstitutional? Just pass an amendment overnight! Something’s unfair to someone? So what, if it’s in the name of the People, go ahead and do it! There are already signs of this happening at various levels as per the various reports.

A credible opposition in needed, but the establishment political parties and the social elites over the prior 30 years did a splendid job of thoroughly disgracing themselves and anything that sounds like “moderate” or “conservative” social/political/economic policy, through corruption, mismanagement and the classic strategy of talking about “democracy” and “free enterprise”… but meaning it for themselves, not for the people at large.

One must of course mention that Venezuela is awash with extra cash from the high petroleum prices… and that helped Chavez a lot. Any vaunted prosperity might in fact just be petro dollars helping kick up the economy.

Earlier threads discussing Chavez:

NPR’s “Morning Edition” had a story today about how Chavez is now using the boogeyman of a U.S. invasion to militarize Venezuelan society, boost public support for himself, and divert attention from other, more pressing social problems (crime, corruption, unemployment, etc.).

In other words, he’s stealing a page from the Bush playbook?

The most recent National Geographic had a full story on Chavez. It was a very interesting read. As far as “corrupt,” how’s this: one of his main initiatives is aimed at relieving the traditional landholders of their ranches and farms. This is not shocking; redistribution of land is pretty standard Marxist procedure. However, here’s a glimpse of his sneakiness: he says repeatedly that if the landowners can come up with a copy of their original 1821 deed (1821 being the time when Venezuela as well as most of NW South America became independent), they can fight the reposession in court.

Only problem? The then-new Venezuelan government didn’t get around to issuing paper property deeds until the 1850s. Nobody will be able to produce those documents because they don’t exist, and Chavez knows this.

I’m not the first one to make this comparison but, to me, Chavez is very much like a Latin American version of Huey Long. Like Long, he’s a colorful (some would say clownish) personality whose leadership style is a mix of leftwing populism, rich-baiting, and–disturbingly–authoritarianism. Unfortunately for him, I also think there’s a good chance Chavez will have the same fate as “the Kingfish.”

Well, the U.S. has done a lot to play into his hands. At worst, he’s a minor irritant. However, for political reasons (i.e., appeal to the anti-Castro vote in Florida) the Bush Administration apparently sees fit to keep scratching and picking at it so it gets worse. If they keep it up, it will turn into a gaping wound that Bush’s successor will likely have to deal with.

Actually, that’s more characteristic of “distributism.” See this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=344179 Most self-identified Marxist governments* want to “socialize,” i.e., nationalize, the land, rather than parcel it out in smallholdings.

Isn’t it possible some landowners might come up with title deeds predating independence, e.g., land grants from the Spanish crown?

*Not including Chavez’ – he calls himself a “Bolivarian,” whatever that might be.

CMC fnord!

An interesting read from FAIR, this article was first published in the USA and now appears in Venezuelan Analisys:

The separation of powers bit is really interesting:

In that case, it seems like Bolivarianism is finally winning, and not just in Venezuela. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_American_Community_of_Nations

Yes, but he’s specifically excluding those by demanding 1821 deeds; he’s basically saying that anything pre-independence (i.e. given by Spain) is void.

Yeah, that Chavez is a real saint:

Venezuela: Court Orders Trial of Civil Society Leaders

Venezuela: Rights Lawyer Faces Judicial Persecution

Venezuela: Curbs on Free Expression Tightened

Venezuela: Chávez Allies Pack Supreme Court

[http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/11/30/venezu9754.htm]Venezuela: Media Law Undercuts Freedom of Expression](http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/11/30/venezu9754.htm)

Venezuela: Investigate Charges of Abuses Against Protestors

Investigate Killings of Opposition Supporters in Venezuela

etc…

See, Geoge Bush is a monster because of the Patriot Act, but Chavez is a hero, because he’s working for ‘the people’. And after all, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

Yeah, Huey Long is the first comparison I’d thought of.

As for getting out of it next time I think that’ll be pretty straightforward. A simple statement from the next POTUS along the lines of ‘We’re not fond of him but he was freely elected and only the people of Venezuela can remove him.’ will begin to patch things up fairly quickly, I’d think.

But that tactic sure wouldn’t work for Bush.

No, Chavez is no saint and no hero. But from what I can see he’s the best thing that could happen to Venezuela right now . . . if you measure him against the available alternatives. As the Venezuelan people have, repeatedly.

Sam Stone says “Yeah, that Chavez is a real saint”
Well, no, he isn’t. Tell me Sam, since you are so outraged about “breaking a few eggs”
could you please refer us to where you expressed your equal dismay about, say, General Rios-Montt and the SIXTY THOUSAND Guatemalans, mostly Mayan Indians, his American armed and trained soldiers slaughtered, or maybe the series of Salvadoran thugs like Roberto DAubuisson, equally American trained, financed and armed, who murdered ONE HUNDRED TWENTY THOUSAND peasants (and several hundred nuns and priests), usually by torture, or the Contras in Nicaragua or “the Most Catholic General” (Videla) in Argentina- he only killed maybe thirty thousand-or Somoza or Pinochet or … Jeeze, I could go on for the whole page. Reagan loved them all, so did Bush Sr. How do you feel about them, Sam?
Nobody in Latin America (except for the rich elites, who make up a tiny micropercentage of the population) has any reason at all to expect anything but destruction to come from any relationship with the United States. Chavez is just the first of what is either going to become a string of justifiably anti-American political leaders, or else anything-but-the-first
popular leader to be murdered to preserve what the USA feels is its rightful rule over the dusky savages to the South.

Chavez, OTOH, for all his heavy-handed behavior and criminal prosecution of opponents, has not yet had anyone shot, and seems to be proving, pace Lenin, that you can have a revolution without firing squads! :slight_smile:

Remember also that by Latin American standards – hell, by U.S. standards – he would have been perfectly within his rights to have all the plotters and participants of the 2002 coup shot for treason. And for reasons unclear to me, he didn’t. (Which he may yet live to regret . . .)