University Press of America, Inc. 2013
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This book traces Venezuela’s communist transformation and its effects on the neighboring nations of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. This book also examines Chavez’s behavior in the international arena, strongly emphasizing his close association with Iran and narcotics terrorism.
Modern totalitarian regimes are no longer based on ideology. They are no more than a power structure based on populist propaganda directed to hide their real intentions by promising attractive and progressive goals.
Chavez's Legacy is an interesting analysis of this pseudodemocratic path and its consequences in this century's Venezuelan experience. Ari Chaplin manages to cover the tortuous path to reach absolute power through a corrupted electoral process unwary democracies may follow. He shows how absolute power, once achieved, is a breeding ground of corruption and he goes on to reveal that false ideological motives actually led to the creation of a mafia state. The power structure of such regimes and the generalized corruption at all levels of government, indeed model those structures on the well known vertical mafia criminal system.
A subtle neo-communist movement appears to be supporting this new path to power "to promote a new ideology that will take into account the errors committed by Soviet communism", according to Chaplin. On the other hand, he argues that "although Chávez claimed adherence to Marxist-Leninist principles, his policies have not always matched his stated ideology. Unlike Fidel Castro, who was versed in Marx’s writings, Chávez has never read important books" on marxism or leninism.
The author is quite thorough in presenting facts and a detailed analysis of them in the strategy for a gradual grab of absolute power, as Chavez devised it and ultimately bestowed it in Maduro, his heir. Chaplin finds in his book that this is a malady bred in Cuba originally and spreading this century through Venezuela to the rest of Latin America, with serious breakouts in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua so far.
This book makes clear how the inefficiencies of many governments, both in economic policy and institutional organizations, have produced a void that power thirsty "caudillos" have exploited to create present day "mafia states".
Chaplin is able to reveal in detail many of the hidden means and strategies to grab power, making this book a must read for democracy lovers wanting to learn about the ominous signs of democracies in peril.