So Who Will Trump Pick For Veep?
NYT's Hannah Jones Got Fact-Checked Over Her Publication's Chick-fil-A Controversy
The Blood on Biden’s Hands
Dock Their Pay
The Pipe Dream Presidential Candidacy of Gavin Newsom or Michelle Obama
When Radicals Cheer Self-Immolation
Biden Is Destroying the Firearm's Industry
The Left's Latest Attack on Christianity
Nostalgia Versus Numbers: Challenging America's Economic Pessimism
What It Means to Be a Political Conservative in America
Do Manners Matter Anymore?
A New Leader Elected to Office in a Consequential Election
How BLM Is Destroying Public Education
80 Percent of Americans Want Age Limits for the President
The Critical Testimony of Robert Hur

Sic Semper Tyrannis

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

What? Do even Latin American caudillos die? Apparently, according to the latest and last medical bulletin on the health (or lack thereof) of Hugo Chavez, perpetually re-electable president of Venezuela.


No doubt many Venezuelans are grieving at the news that he has proven mortal.

It ought to be quite a wake or celebration, depending on which Venezuelans are observing the occasion. No doubt those of both persuasions will be sincere, as many Russians mourned the death of their generalissimo when Stalin left this vale of tears he had done so much to make even tearier. While others breathed a (very) quiet sigh of relief, mindful that the secret police were still watching. Two news items may exemplify the gulf that Hugo Chavez, always a polarizing figure, leaves behind:

-- "I feel a sorrow so big I can't speak," said Yamilina Barrios, a 39-year-old clerk who works in the Ministry of Industry, her face covered in tears. "He was the best this country had," she said, disconsolately weeping. "I adore him.''

Wherever there are despots on the rise, there will be those swept away by their admiration for El Jefe and the New Order he promises. They may not notice the shuttered newspapers, the mobs ready to do his bidding. Anybody who protests just doesn't understand that, to make an omelet, you have to break eggs. Maybe a lot of them.

-- Near the Supreme Court building in Caracas, a group of student protesters had been demonstrating for a week, demanding that the government be more open about the state of the president's health. As the news of his death spread, a group of masked, helmeted men drove by. Brandishing pistols, they stopped long enough to attack the students and break up their encampment. Then they went roaring off without identifying themselves. Wherever there are dictatorships in the making, there are storm troopers.


That mob scene was all too typical of the intimidation with which Hugo Chavez and brutal company ruled his fiefdom. His idea of democracy was typified by his third and, of course, successful re-election campaign: The opposition got three minutes of television time a day, while El Comandante commandeered all the air time he wanted, any day any hour, 24/7.

. .

No petrodictator was ever so careful to observe the electoral rules and regulations after he had thoroughly jimmied them in his favor. Literally. Since a former American president, the ever-gullible and ever-incompetent Jimmy Carter himself, certified the colonel's election to a fourth term as just fine and dandy and fair all around. If old Dante Alighieri were updating his "Inferno," surely he would reserve a special place for those idealistic who do not do evil themselves but lend their enthusiastic support to those who do.

Comrade Lenin was said to have had a term for such Western types: useful idiots. Hugo Chavez attracted many of them, too, especially in Hollywood and other cultural capitals of groupthink. Fellow travelers did not disappear with the Cold War; they just got a new hero and a new ideology: Chavismo.

. .

Now is not the time, nor is this the place for instant evaluations, or even a comprehensive one, of Comandante Chavez's tumultuous rise and reign. There will be plenty of opportunity for political post-mortems. Let us wait and let Clio, muse of history, lend her perspective. Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the show. For nothing can be livelier than a long-awaited state funeral.


. .

To quote an observation from "Evita," a musical that remains as up-to-date as the latest dictatorship:

Oh what a circus! Oh what a show!

Argentina has gone to town

Over the death of an actress called Eva Peron

We've all gone crazy

Mourning all day and mourning all night

Falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right

Oh what an exit! That's how to go!

Join the conversation as a VIP Member


Trending on Townhall Videos