What Is Hugo Chavez's Legacy?

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“El Comandante”, a man made immortal, a paratrooper who became larger than life, and a riveting orator are apt descriptions of the indomitable former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. This illustrious character, who was both renowned and notorious, led a remarkable political career spanning 20 years, only ever losing one election. He has left an undeniable legacy whose overarching influence in Venezuela can be plotted from his 1998 presidential election victory to the present day. Critics portend, however, that Chavez’s path is plagued with inaccuracies and inefficiencies that make it economically unsustainable. Equally pejoratively, Chavez’s legacy has been blamed for politicizing and polarizing civil society (Perez, 2013, para. 5). Alternatively, Chavez has been lauded as a messiah to the impoverished,…show more content…
11; Perez, 2013, para. 2). Given such sentiments, El Comandante’s legacy (Chavismo) has clearly had mixed consequences for Venezuela’s economy and society. Essentially, Chavismo has shaped the state of Venezuela’s economy by spawning marked improvements in the general standard of living yet polarizing civil society, and by reducing economic inequalities but failing to realize certain critical economic requirements. Firstly, Chavismo has resulted in significant advances in the standard of living of the general Venezuelan population, especially for the impoverished masses. These advances have been achieved largely through the implementation of several fundamental social programs such as the provision of communal lands and enterprises and free health care along with the expansion of access to education. Jones (2007) has acclaimed these social programs as unmatched worldwide (p. 452). During Chavez’s tenure, poverty was halved and unemployment decreased from 15% in 1999 to 7% in 2011 (Whitney, 2011, para. 20). With the provision of communal land

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