Assessing the legacy of Chávez


A chara, – It was interesting to read your Editorial on Hugo Chávez (March 7th). I applaud you for recognising his achievement in cutting poverty in half and improving access to education and health.

On the down side you noted that he had centralised power,left the economy in a shambles and that the country was left with sluggish growth and a ballooning debt.

Does this resonate at all? – Yours, etc,


Victoria Gardens,


Sir, – The late President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has not yet been laid in his grave, but already a dismal chorus of commentators on the right is lining up to denounce him as a sinister anti-democrat, or even as a “dictator” (World News, March 7th).

I derive a cynical amusement from the meek silence of these same doughty defenders of democracy when it comes to some polities that are far more authoritarian and dysfunctional than Venezuela’s, but which are hospitable to “western interests”.

Even in your Editorial (March 7th), it seems impossible to mention Chavez’s unprecedented gains for his people – once he got control of the oil industry, his government reduced poverty by half and extreme poverty by 70 per cent – without joining in with the obligatory labelling of him as somehow anti-democratic.

This, although he won 14 elections which even his enemies had to admit were free and fair.

As Bertrand Russell once wrote about the American revolutionary Thomas Paine, “He had faults, like other men; but it was for his virtues that he was hated and successfully calumniated.” – Yours, etc,


St Brigid’s Park,


Dublin 15.