The Times leaves out one of Hugo Chavez's greatest achievements. When the late Venezuelan president took office 14 years ago, he enthusiastically continued his country's costly El Sistema, which provides free musical instruments and instruction to all young students in Venezuela. No other country in the world does this.
Gustavo Dudamel, the young music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was trained in El Sistema, just like all Venezuelan children who choose to enter the program. Los Angeles likely would never have heard of Dudamel were it not for Chavez's continuation of El Sistema.
Last year, Dudamel conducted the L.A. Philharmonic in Venezuela in conjunction with the nation's Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.
Yes, Chavez acted like a dictator, but give him credit for giving Venezuela's children and thousands more around the world the gift of music.