Francisco Toro: What Fidel Taught Hugo

tags: The New Republic, Hugo Chavez, Francisco Toro, Fidel Castro



Francisco Toro is a Venezuelan journalist, political scientist and blogger. Born and raised in Caracas, he attended High School and College in the United States.

Hugo Chávez died today in Venezuela at the age of 58, but his battle with a never-specified form of cancer was waged largely in a Cuban hospital—a telling detail, as Cuba loomed just as large in his political imagination as his native country.

It's a point that my gringo friends up north always struggle with. The Cuban Revolution's immense influence on the region has been constantly underestimated and misunderstood from day one. It's only a slight exaggeration to suggest that everything of note that's happened south of the Rio Grande since 1959 has been an attempt either to emulate, prevent, or transcend the Cuban experience. Chávez will be remembered as the most successful of Fidel Castro's emulators, the man who breathed new life into the old revolutionary dream. 

Starting in the 1960s, guerrilla movements throughout the hemisphere tried to replicate the Sierra Maestra rebels' road to power, to no avail. In the '70s, Chile's Salvador Allende tried the electoral route, but he didn't have a clear majority. In the '80s, Nicaragua's Sandinistas had the majority and rode it to power, but took over a state too bankrupt to implement the social reforms they'd always championed....



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