Chavez: Yes, there\’s a reason for this

When Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo was treated in Brazil for lymphatic cancer, the world barely noticed. When Dilma Rousseff suffered a lymphoma in 2009, it did not prevent her from winning Brazil\’s presidential election the next year. But Hugo Chávez\’s recent illness has caused turmoil both within Venezuela and abroad.

Because the other two were simply democratic politicians who won elections. If they didn\’t win, someone else would.

Chavez is much more in the Caudillo mould.

No, I don\’t mean that he\’s not won elections, but that the whole project depends upon Chavez. Thus the illness of Chavez causes more turmoil than the illness of someone not so identified with a project or country.

That\’s the problem with charismatic rule: even those with charisma die in the end whereas insititutions and methods can survive any one individual.

4 thoughts on “Chavez: Yes, there\’s a reason for this”

  1. Indeed. Yugoslavia under Tito’s a good example – the only Eastern Bloc country that got away with telling Stalin to shove it, the best economic performer out of the Eastern Bloc states, and far less tyrannical and corrupt than its neighbours – but on his death, the whole thing collapsed into the horrors of the 1990s.

    Ideally, you need someone like Rawlings in Ghana, who uses their strongman reputation to bring in an institutional democracy – but understanding one’s own fallibility and mortality isn’t really condusive to the Caudillo mentality.

  2. Also whatever the assets or liabilities of normal politicians we rarely wish them the worse when we hear they have a nasty illness. In the case of a an asshole like Chavez, many of us quietly rejoice at the thought that his misrule might be brought abruptly to an end.

  3. Just thought I’d take the opportunity to repeat Tim’s joke to the effect that ‘Chavez has surgery to remove cancerous tumor. Surprisingly, there appears to be some of him left’.

  4. even those with charisma die in the end

    Except for Fidel Castro who seems destined to live forever. How many US Presidents has he outlived now?

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