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Letters: Two sides on Hugo Chavez

March 12, 2013

Re "Leaders join Chavez mourners," March 9

There is an egregious double standard practiced in the recounting of the death last week of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He is portrayed as a Latin American Robin Hood, while his subversion of human rights and a free press are minimized. His economic policies resulted in food shortages in his oil-rich nation and an astronomically high inflation rate.

Yet, incredibly, he is eulogized as the people's savior.

Among his closest allies were great subverters of human rights, including Fidel Castro of Cuba and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If Chavez were right-wing, I don't doubt the media would call him a dictator, as they did with Chile's Augusto Pinochet.

Richard Friedman

Los Angeles

Although Chavez is typically demonized in the U.S., his record commands respect. He was democratically elected president four times. He encouraged local participatory democracy by creating more than 30,000 communal councils in charge of their own neighborhoods.

Under Chavez, the poverty rate in Venezuela plunged from more than 60% to less than 30%. He undertook a massive attack on illiteracy. By 2008, he boosted the number of schoolchildren receiving free lunches to more than 4 million. He massively expanded access to free healthcare.

Unlike too many rulers, Chavez felt that the less fortunate and not just the wealthy deserved consideration — in deeds, not just in words. Despite his failings, Chavez deserves to be mourned.

Roger Carasso

Los Angeles

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