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The greatest leader the world has ever known 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Eduardo is an elevator repairman from Venezuela. He once told me most elevator accidents happen when the doors open and the elevator isn’t there. Yikes.

Today, when I asked Eduardo why he’d left Venezuela, he told me about his country’s president, Hugo Chávez.

“Before Chávez,” Eduardo said, “the longest term a Venezuelan president could serve was five years. In his first term as president, Chávez changed the law and, so far, has been President for over a decade.”

“Also,” said Eduardo, “Chávez hates the United States, even though the U.S. buys $300 million worth of Venezuelan oil a day. With an estimated 30 million people living in Venezuela, $300 million could pay each citizen ten dollars a day for a total of $300 a month while the average Venezuelan salary is about $200 a month.”

I looked this up and on Wikipedia  found: “Chronic poverty and unemployment are widespread despite the country’s oil wealth.” In fact, Chávez hates the United States so much he officially moved Venezuela’s time a half hour ahead so that, for example, 6pm in New York is 6:30pm in Venezuela. I don’t know about you but as an American I can’t tell you how much that smarts.

Eduardo says President Chávez added a star to the Venezuelan flag. There were seven and now there are eight. He also changed the country’s name from Venezuela to the Republic of Venezuela and then to the Bolivariana Republic of Venezuela. Apparently, he’s obsessed with SimĂłn BolĂ­var. In July of this year, Chávez had BolĂ­var’s 200-year-old corpse exhumed to see if he had been poisoned (which would refute the popular account that he died of tuberculosis).

There’s more to the story, Shaw, further evidence to support what Baron Acton wrote in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

It’s the “almost always” that gets to me. When I mentioned this to Eduardo he said that people rally behind money. Money motivates people while ideas, well, you can’t buy $30 million worth of oil with ideas.

Despite all this, the Aborigines insist the world’s perfect and, who knows, maybe they’re right. After all, who am I to judge right from wrong? How do I know the world won’t look back on Chávez and regard him as the greatest leader the world has ever known? His reign could prove to be a pivotal turning point in the history of Venezuela as a world and benevolent power. Perhaps adding a star to the flag and pushing the time a half hour ahead will end up being more important than the invention of the printing press and the birth of Christ. After all, Chávez is only 56. He’s got a long time to live. Who knows what humanitarian and philanthropic deeds he may do? Only time will tell, Shaw, and we may or may not be around to see him shine.

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