- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Several political and celebrity figures have spoken out in support of the deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; Rep. Jose E. Serrano, New York Democrat; liberal director Michael Moore; and actor and activist Sean Penn.

But even the very liberal blog of the Center for American Progress, ThinkProgress, is warning Democrats not to idealize Mr. Chavez.

In a Tuesday post, blogger Zack Beauchamp says the president’s policies harmed Venezuela’s poorest civilians.


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“The value of the Venezuelan currency dropped while prices soared, making it harder for people to buy basic necessities, and crime skyrocketed,” he wrote.

He also suggested that Mr. Chavez harmed Venezuela’s beleaguered Jewish population.

“He himself once said ‘Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by those wandering Jews,’” Mr. Beauchamp wrote. “A study released by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University found that Chavez’s rule ‘witnessed a rise in antisemitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.’”

Roughly half of the Jewish population fled Venezuela for fear that they were being specifically targeted by the regime.

Mr. Beauchamp suggests that the Chavez government made a consistent effort “to intimidate, censor, and prosecute critics and perceived opponents in a wide range of cases involving the judiciary, the media, and civil society.”

The ThinkProgress blogger blasts Mr. Serrano’s statement released Tuesday, which elaborated on a previous tweet: “Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.”

The blogger says that even though Mr. Chavez attempted to address the plight of Venezuela’s poorest, “the decline in economic inequality in Venezuela reflected a broader egalitarian trend in Latin America, and can’t be fully credited to Chavez’s policies.”