When Hugo Chávez took power in Venezuela nearly 20 years ago, the leftist populism he championed was supposed to save democracy. Instead, it has led to democracy’s implosion in the country, marked this past week by an attack on the independence of its Legislature.
Venezuela’s fate stands as a warning: Populism is a path that, at its outset, can look and feel democratic. But, followed to its logical conclusion, it can lead to democratic backsliding or even outright authoritarianism.
Populism does not always end in authoritarianism. Venezuela’s collapse has been aided by other factors, including plummeting oil prices, and democratic institutions can check populism’s darker tendencies.
Was it populism that led to authoritarianism in Venezuela? Or was it the socialism that undermined democracy and rule of law?
You have to get deep into the article to see the term "Bolivarian socialism."
Speaking of socialism's darker tendencies:
Venezuelan security forces quelled masked protesters with tear gas, water cannons and pepper spray in Caracas on Tuesday after blocking an opposition rally against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
The clashes began after the authorities closed subway stations, set up checkpoints and cordoned off a square where opponents had planned their latest protest against autocratic government and a crippling economic crisis.
How long before the mass killings begin?
Unless Trump tries to pack the courts in response to setbacks by judges oddly uninterested in the text of his orders and the statutes that allow them, don't even talk to me about the lessons of Chavez and Maduro for today's America.
UPDATE: Hoo boy:
Venezuelans in poor areas blocked streets and lit fires during scattered protests across the country on Tuesday night, and two people were killed during the growing unrest in the midst of a crippling economic crisis.
In a worrying sign for leftist President Nicolas Maduro, groups in Caracas' traditionally pro-government hillside slums and low-income neighborhoods took to the streets, witnesses and opposition lawmakers reported.
That is a major change in support. Maduro may be down to just having the people with guns backing him. Which is enough in the short run if you are willing to kill enough opponents.