Once news of the death of Hugo Chavez broke, we knew we’d be hearing from former President Jimmy Carter before long. The only question was just how effusive Carter would be in his praise of the Venezuelan dictator, and the answer is: pretty effusive.
Carter did have some reserved criticism for the more, um, dictatorial side of Chavez.
At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing. We hope that as Venezuelans mourn the passing of President Chávez and recall his positive legacies — especially the gains made for the poor and vulnerable — the political leaders will move the country forward by building a new consensus that ensures equal opportunities for all Venezuelans to participate in every aspect of national life.
As we solemnly remember the positive legacies of Chavez — wow, that didn’t take long —we can enjoy another good laugh as well. Progressives like English singer/songwriter Billy Bragg would like remind us that Carter’s observation of elections in Venezuela proves that Chavez wasn’t a dictator, so stop calling him that.