The WaPo's Jackson Diehl analyzes the collapse of Hugo Chavez's socialist dream for Venezuela:
While the world has been preoccupied with the crisis in Haiti, Latin America has quietly passed through a tipping point in the ideological conflict that has polarized the region -- and paralyzed U.S. diplomacy -- for most of the past decade.
The result boils down to this: Hugo Ch�vez's "socialism for the 21st century" has been defeated and is on its way to collapse.
During the past two weeks, just before and after the earthquake outside Port-au-Prince, the following happened: Ch�vez was forced to devalue the Venezuelan currency, and impose and then revoke massive power cuts in the Venezuelan capital as the country reeled from recession, double-digit inflation and the possible collapse of the national power grid. In Honduras, a seven-month crisis triggered by the attempt of a Ch�vez client to rupture the constitutional order quietly ended with a deal that will send him into exile even as a democratically elected moderate is sworn in as president.
Last but not least, a presidential election in Chile, the region's most successful economy, produced the first victory by a right-wing candidate since dictator Augusto Pinochet was forced from office two decades ago. Sebasti�n Pi�era, the industrialist and champion of free markets who won, has already done something that no leader from Chile or most other Latin American nations has been willing to do in recent years: stand up to Ch�vez.
The list of socialist success stories is not noted for its length. Indeed, it's hard to think of a nation which has tried socialist nostrums and subsequently enjoyed economic prosperity. Most of those which have experimented with socialism have wound up abandoning it in favor of free markets. Given that fact, one wonders why our political leadership seems so determined to impose socialist-style reforms, or at least reasonable facsimiles thereof, on us. Where and when has it ever worked?
There's a lot more to this story at the link.RLC