Chavez Dead: Venezuela Must Choose Between Socialism and Freedom

The authoritarian president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is dead at 58 years old after battling cancer for the last two years. Chavez will be remembered for his incessant attacks on private property rights, free enterprise, and freedom of the press. Although Chavez claimed to care for the poor, his policies directly caused a flight of capital from Venezuela, skyrocketing inflation, crumbling currency, and shortage of goods. The fear created by his failure to respect the rights of private enterprise through arbitrary expropriation will impact economic growth into the future. In addition to devastating economic policies, Chavez chose to forge relationships with dictatorial regimes in Cuba and Iran.

Like other failed socialist leaders of the past, Chavez's strong personality and mastery of rhetoric allowed him to capture the hearts and minds of citizens. With Chavez gone, Venezuela is a crossroads between socialism and freedom. Before his death, Chavez selected Vice President Nicolas Maduro to succeed him. Although a skilled bureaucrat, Maduro lacks the "charm" exuded by Chavez.

Although Maduro is the frontrunner to earn the nomination of Chavez’s United Socialist Party, Henrique Capriles will likely mount a strong challenge as the nominee of the Unified Democratic Panel. As governor of Miranda, Capriles has proven to be a capable leader. In 2012, Capriles captured an impressive 45% of the vote against Chavez. If elected, Capriles’ pro-business inclinations and aversion to Iran would offer Venezuela a reprieve from the isolation and economic chaos of the Chavez years. 

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Joel Griffith

Joel Griffith is a licensed attorney, admitted to the California State Bar. He graduated from the Chapman University School of Law with a dual emphasis in alternative dispute resolution and tax law. At Chapman, Joel was a charter board member and Treasurer of the Investment Law Society, served on the board of the Chapman chapter of the California Republican Lawyers Association, competed on both the mock trial and mediation teams. Joel has experience in public policy research, legislative analysis, and campaign leadership. Most recently, he worked with a Republican presidential campaign as MI state field director, OH state operations director, and parliamentarian/assistant delegate strategist in WA. As a journalist, numerous outlets have featured Joel's work, including redalertpolitics.com, breitbart.com, biggovernment.com, policymic.com, and safehaven.com. In addition to law and politics, Joel continues to manage an equities portfolio, focusing primarily on the banking sector. Joel's seeks to advocate for economic freedom and individual liberty.

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