by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As Venezuela’s economy continues to crumble, based largely on policies adopted during the misguided reign of Hugo Chavez, JP Carroll of the Daily Caller draws attention to Chavez’s best friends in the United States.
Chavez, who ruled over Venezuela from February 1999 until his death from cancer in March 2013, won the presidential election in 1998. The socialist dictator quickly realized that befriending powerful Americans was among the best ways to establish his authoritarian regime’s legitimacy.
Despite ruthlessly ruling over Venezuela, Chavez ensured that he appeared sympathetic to Hollywood actor, activist, and amateur freelance journalist Sean Penn. At the time of Chavez’s death, Penn said, “Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela.” …
… Hyper-inflation that will reach 720 percent this year has ravaged Venezuela’s economy. A variety of different goods ranging from life-saving drugs, to basic luxuries, such as soda and beer, are all but impossible to find.
Acclaimed film director Oliver Stone also befriended Chavez and even made a documentary, released in 2010, South of the Border, which casts Chavez in a flattering light. The director’s documentary heaped praise upon various socialist South American leaders and their policies. …
… Even though he enjoyed high-profile friendships with many of Hollywood’s elite, Chavez sought to gain ever more legitimacy by befriending members of Congress and American royalty: the Kennedys. Chavez began a financial relationship with former Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Patrick Kennedy II (D-MA) by giving Venezuelan heating oil to Kennedy’s non-profit Citizens Energy Corporation in Massachusetts. Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1999.