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Death of Hugo Chavez

After a long, two-year struggle with cancer, Hugo Chavez died in a military hospital in Caracas, Venezuela1. The proximate cause may have been a massive heart attack. He had returned in February from medical care in Cuba where it is believed his case was declared terminal. Vice President Nicolas Maduro gave a tearful speech regarding the incident. Then he moved quickly to consolidate his new position as President of the Venezuelan state.

Prior to the death of Chavez there had been considerable speculation on whether there would be civil unrest upon his death. There were relatively few outbreaks of violence. The violence that did occur was carried out by elements within the established Chavista government2. The election, held about 30 days after his death went in favor of Maduro. Subsequently, his legitimacy has been questioned3.

The legacy of Chavez is mainly negative. He initially won the presidency in a legitimate election, but like many strong men, his tendency to authoritarianism led him to rig later elections when opposition parties would have surely defeated him. His policies were repressive, in that he shut down opposition television stations and newspapers. His administration was rife with cronyism and ineptitude. His nationalization of industries created inefficiencies that degraded the economy, caused excessive inflation and created artificial scarcity of goods and services. Essentially, his rule created violence, repression and suffering.

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  1. Fox News Article on Day of Death
  2. Violence and intimidation in Venezuela after Chavez death announcement

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