The Chavez Legacy: Ruin on a Grand Scale
Last week, Bolivia‚Äôs leading opposition figure took the unusual step of seeking political asylum in the Brazilian embassy in La Paz, accusing Evo Morales‚Äôs government of political persecution and death threats. Just as surprisingly, in a stinging rebuke to the Morales government, the Brazilians granted his request, saying his fears were well-founded.
Last month, a prominent Supreme Court judge in Venezuela fled his country into the custody of the Drug Enforcement Administration, fearing that what he knows of narco corruption at the upper levels of Hugo Ch√°vez‚Äôs government had placed his life in jeopardy. In Ecuador, judges who refuse to follow President Rafael Correa‚Äôs orders have been forced to resign and several now live in exile. A leading opposition figure is also being hounded by government lawsuits to silence him.
These recent incidents underscore the success of the most pernicious and effective legacy of the Ch√°vez-led Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America ‚ÄĒ tightening the grip on power of increasingly corrupt governments while gutting the judiciaries, silencing independent media, and criminalizing all political opposition.
Of course, the judiciaries in most of Latin America have long been hobbled by corruption, cronyism, and antiquated legal structures. But the courts are now completely politicized with the express purpose of furthering authoritarian political projects.
Fidel Castro counseled both Hugo Ch√°vez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, by their own accounts in interviews in 2006, to eschew armed revolution in favor of using the electoral process to gain power and then changing the constitutions and legal structures of their countries to ensure they could govern in perpetuity.