Hugo Chavez the President of Venezuela has died of cancer after a two year illness. My Grandfather always said not to speak ill of the dead but that is not easy in Hugos’ case. He was a very real thorn in our side since he first came to power over a decade ago. He liked to blame the United States for every problem in his country from bad water to a shortage of toilet paper.
Hugo first tried to seize power when, as a Colonel in the army, he lead a coup that failed. He was sentenced to 30 years for the attempt (is it just me, or does it seem like an awful lot of dictators start as Colonel's). He was pardoned by the next elected President. After being released from prison he started organizing and gained support from many of the poor by promising wealth redistribution. He was elected to his first term as President in the last basically honest election held in Venezuela since then. After taking power he changed the term of office for President to 6 years and began closing down opposition newspapers and imprisoning opposition leaders.
Venezuela will now be thrown into a period of uncertainty. His hand picked successor and Vice President does not have nearly the popularity Hugo enjoyed among the people. It is unlikely that he could win an honest election to the Presidency, but honest elections are something that may not happen. You can expect the opposition to become far more aggressive and may even take to the streets. Violence and civil strife are very likely while the Venezuelans try to sort things out.
The United States should not expect any improvement in relations in the short term. The Vice President has already expelled an American diplomat and has accused the United States of having somehow given Hugo the cancer that killed him.
Whatever happens, whatever government emerges in Venezuela, it will be an improvement over the days of Hugo Chavez.
And as for Hugo…. Well, I suspect he is now finding out what sulfur really does smell like….
Live Long and Prosper...