Having been married to a Venezuelan and a resident of Caracas for nearly 25 years, I was extremely disappointed in Justin Raimondo’s “A Revolutionary Who Wasn’t” (Between the Lines, May).  Hugo Chávez was indeed a revolutionary, from his initial attempt at a coup d’état in 1992 through his interminable hours-long speeches, his friendship with and support of leftist regimes, his obvious loathing of the upper classes, and his own glorification of his Bolivarian revolution.

Despite some positive aspects of his extended rule, such as healthcare and education for the poor, Mr. Chávez by his despotic stance has turned what was once a prosperous nation with a viable and growing middle class into a ruined state.  Hard to imagine why Mr. Raimondo has chosen to be an apologist for such a would-be dictator.

—E.G. Holzapfel
via e-mail

Mr. Raimondo Replies:

While Chávez’s hours-long speeches were no doubt a great burden to you, Mr. Holzapfel, I would suggest that perhaps the late caudillo’s loathing of the upper classes was quite justified, at least from a nationalist—or even a patriotic—point of view.  After all, any “opposition” that would take money and support from a foreign government, thus turning itself into a de facto fifth column, deserves to be loathed.  I would also question whether Venezuela was “once a prosperous nation,” unless one is talking about the days before the conquistadores came.  As I pointed out in my article, when Chávez came to power the country was in a severe economic downturn, crime was rampant (as it is today), and the upper classes were mainly concerned with plundering what was left of the national wealth and taking it to Miami.

Chávez’s economic policies were wrong­headed, but no more so than Barack Obama’s or those of any mildly social-democratic head of state.  His foreign policy was a knee-jerk response to American arrogance and meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.  If I were a citizen of Venezuela, I would certainly oppose his party and its policies, albeit never in league with the poor excuse for an “opposition.”  In short, I do not need to apologize for Chávez, and have never done so: I have merely sought to explain him.