The truth is that Chavez was a brutal despot who strutted the world stage basking in the international celebrity status he gained as a result of his anti-American rhetoric and relentless attacks on Britain.
He was a master of propaganda who deftly wooed the ‘useful idiots’ of the Left — to use the phrase Stalin applied to Britain’s Labour politicians and trade unionists — while clamping down on free speech in his own country, rigging the political system in his favour and presiding over a nation drowning in bloodshed and mired in poverty.
He befriended murderous tyrants such as Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, used his country’s vast oil wealth to support terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and helped terrorist drug-runners in Colombia whose products cause misery and death across the world.
He may not have been a genocidal maniac in the style of Kim Jong-Il or Stalin, but Chavez was one of a grotesque line of authoritarian strongmen who have been the curse of Latin America over the decades.
And yet, because of his defiant stance on the U.S. and his attacks on British ‘imperialism’, he was lionised in this country by the Left and its media mouthpieces, The Guardian and the BBC. (Perhaps that’s not so unexpected — we have to remember that a BBC reporter wept during the funeral of arch Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat.)