Will Hugo Chavez Meet the Same Fate as Mubarak?

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

After weeks of tumultuous protests, embattled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is widely expected to step down as soon as tonight. Will other "democratically elected" presidents-for-life across the globe soon face similar fates? Now that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has announced plans to run for re-election and could see his power extended until the end of this decade, Newsweek's Mac Margolis wonders if Chavez is next. Update: As soon as we published we learned that Mubarak has refused to step down.

"There are striking parallels between the Middle Eastern despots and the self-styled heir of Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar, who has ruled virtually unchallenged since 1999," writes Margolis. "Like Egypt's House of Sharm El Sheik and the Ben Ali dynasty, Chavez's 'boligarchy' has purloined the wealth it hasn't squandered."

Interestingly, Chavez hasn't had much to say either in support of Mubarak or the protesters, but in true Chavez style only took the opportunity to characterize the United States as the devil.

"See how the United States, after using such-and-such a president for years, as soon as he hits a crisis, they abandon him. That's how the devil pays," he told a newswire.

Late last month protesters briefly took a hold of the Egyptian embassy in Venezuela in a show of solidarity with protesters in Cairo. Though, Chavez quickly had Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro diffuse the situation.

So, will these protesters ever start similar protesters against their own authoritarian leader?

Caught in a deep recession, Venezuela is also facing steep inflation and out-of-control crime. The country seems ripe for some sort of popular uproar.

Though Margolis writes that Chavez doesn't have anything to worry about ...yet.

He believes Chavez exercises his power in such a way as to deflect any sort of uprising.

"Chávez jails and hounds critics, but keeps no gulag of political prisoners. Independent media are silenced (Radio Caracas) or harassed (Globovision), although ordinary Venezuelans may freely assemble and say just about what they want. The government does rig elections, but slants the outcome through gerrymandering as it did in September when the opposition won a majority of the popular vote but failed to gain control of the legislature."

Coupled with his occasional self-deprecation, "man of the people" image and Venezuela's lax political culture, the substance of the Chavez and Mubarak regimes may be similar, but the style is completely opposite.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.