Smell the Sulfur

Chavez dead; Penn, Kennedy hardest hit


Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has died, Venezuelan vice president Nicolás Maduro announced Tuesday afternoon. The cause was complications from a longstanding struggle with cancer.

Chávez, a former soldier, dominated Venezuelan politics since he was elected president in 1999. An attempted coup in 2002 failed to remove him from power. His rule was authoritarian, using political means and large majorities in the parliament to crack down on opposition movements and consolidate his rule. His philosophy of Chávismo was populist and anti-American and he formed alliances with other dictators and authoritarians from Russia to Iran to China. He leaves behind a polarized and impoverished country that despite massive oil reserves has been isolated from the South American political and economic renaissance in countries such as Colombia, Chile, and Brazil.

The Cuban health care system failed to cure Chávez's cancer.