‘Siege mentality’ is Chávez’s legacy

It is undoubtedly true that Hugo Chávez changed for the better the lives of millions of the most deprived people in Venezuela — his mass support being testament to that.

However, any balanced appraisal of his legacy must look at the other, less positive aspects that he presided over. From personal experience, it appears that the country lives in a constant ‘siege mentality’ mode.

There is what seems to be an over-the-top military presence which doesn’t do much to assuage feelings of insecurity. Many of the people seem quite suspicious of, not just outsiders, but each other. This would have to be attributed to Chávez’s ‘them versus us’ rhetoric and the large grip he has had on the state’s media.

The same criticism could be levelled at George W Bush with his ‘war on terror’ stance. In comparison, similar socialist governments in Bolivia and Ecuador — again this is just from personal experience — are much more welcoming. What’s wrong with ‘socialism with a smile’?

Brendan Corrigan

Bogotá

Colombia

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