Chavez: The Story of a Bully Boy

News Abroad
tags: Hugo Chavez

Mr. Rowan, a political strategist who has worked in 14 nations since 1970, including two presidential campaigns in Venezuela, where he lived from 1993 to 2006, is co-author with Douglas Schoen of Chavez: The Threat Closer to Home (Free Press, January 6, 2009).

Hugo Chavez has made a career of being rejected by authorities who then underestimated his ability to take sweet revenge. Chavez was rejected by his family, the military, the political elites of Venezuela and finally U.S. President George W. Bush, but survived to punish every one of them. Here is the sad story of the making of a bully boy.

Chavez experienced the bitterness of rejection early in life. Born in a dirt-poor village to a large family, his childish wild behavior was handled by locking him in a dark closet for days on end. His parents gave him to his grandmother to bring up -- he calls her Mama to this day. As a teenager he would cross the street to avoid even eye contact with his real mother.

While both his parents were teachers, at school Hugo was a dismal failure. He failed science in high school; he failed the test for university entrance; he faked his way into the military academy as a baseball player; and he finished last in his military class, blaming it on his teachers.

But Chavez was far from stupid. He was street smart, an endless talker and a show-off who harbored unbridled ambitions for power and fame. Seeing enemies everywhere, he trusted no one while ostensibly loving everyone.

In the mind of Chavez, everything bad about him was caused by someone else. After his presidency, when his psychiatrist published that Chavez was a narcissist with paranoid anti-social tendencies, he made writing about his mental life a federal crime. For Chavez, he is the only one who's allowed to be a rebel.

As a teenager he began planning a military coup and for twenty years he lived a double life of daily deception and betrayal, pretending to be a loyal soldier during the day and conspiring with communists, rebels and terrorists to take power by force at night. But as he got power, he turned against virtually everyone who helped him get there, including his longtime mistress.

In 1992, he launched a coup attempt where all his co-conspirators succeeded militarily, while Chavez failed absurdly at his task in Caracas when his cell phone battery went dead. When he surrendered, he made himself famous by going on TV, selfishly abandoning his co-conspirators who had militarily succeeded.

In jail for his coup, he divorced his wife and successfully secured aid from Fidel Castro and Colombia's narco-terrorist guerillas. Upon release from jail, he lived in the home of his aging communist political mentor, took his second wife for the 1998 presidential campaign, but soon after his election, abandoned both, calling them traitors.

Unprepared to manage a small shop no less one of the richest petro-states in the world, Chavez ignored governance in favor of the everyday pursuit of absolute power, which has continued for ten years now. He rewrote the Constitution, centralized legislative and judicial powers in his hands, put ignorant loyalists in charge of the national oil company, demolished the private sector and independent institutions, created a personal army outfitted with $4 billion of Russian arms, and silenced dissent with threats, prosecution, confiscation or payoffs.

A brain-dead opposition in Venezuela always assumed that Chavez would disappear in days or weeks because he was not one of them: white, educated, suave and moneyed. Ten years later, some in the opposition still believe Chavez can't last a day more, even as they take his money and orders just like the occupied Europeans did under Hitler's rule in World War II.

A megalomaniacal believer in his own charms, which are considerable if crude, Chavez has become the first all-TV-all-the-time ruler in the world, spending forty hours per week (imagine it: three times as much as Wolf Blitzer) for a decade exhorting Venezuelans to do as he says. And what Chavez was saying as he pocketed a trillion dollars from oil sales since 1999 is: the ultimate enemy is the “evil empire” of the United States and its “devil” George W. Bush.

While Chavez's opportunistic anti-Americanism is an expression of his childish rage against authority, the U.S. was particularly vulnerable to his attack because its relationship with Latin America is an historic atrocity. Starting with the Monroe Doctrine, the region has been treated as America's "back yard" -- a place to play or put junk.

That back yard was where the US launched military invasions and assassinations, cozying up to dictators and corporations that exploited the region's resources and people. When the United Fruit Company, which created the "banana republic" brand for the region, said jump, the US government said, how high?

The brief Camelot moments calling for an Alliance of the Americas by President John Kennedy were followed by the "Washington Consensus" -- rules for austerity and privatization that had to be followed or no money from the IMF, World Bank or USAID was paid. These rules, which were promoted mostly by Reagan zealots ideologically committed to minimalist government, backfired in Latin America, where the 200 million people living on $2 a day need an active government to survive.

Busy with Russia, China, and the Middle East, the US has long ignored its back yard under the assumption that it was simply not important. This is received in Latin American capitals as the height of humiliation and subordination and is resented everywhere.

Into this vacuum plopped Hugo Chavez, who easily turned half of Latin America against the US and invited or permitted Russia, Belarus, China, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda and the FARC narco-terrorists to put their weapons, drug trade, money-laundering and terrorist training camps in Venezuela and in Chavez's dependencies -- Cuba, Bolivia, Dominica, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Argentina.

Meanwhile, recognizing the limited attention span of Americans in the age of globalization, Chavez used his money to make friends with politicians like Jimmy Carter and Jack Kemp, and entertainment figures such as Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Sean Penn, Naomi Campbell and Oliver Stone, who would tout him as a liberal democrat fighting against war, poverty and corruption, when in fact Chavez was precisely the opposite.

With Bush gone, Chavez loses his major prop to maintain his charade, but he should never be underestimated. Soon enough, Barack Obama may find that he is a symbol of white racism, war, slavery, genocide, global warming and corporate greed. For someone as skilled at deception as Chavez, anything is possible.

©2008 Michael Rowan

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More Comments:

Arnold Shcherban - 2/17/2009

You're so pathetic Mr. Garcia and helpless in understanding the enormous complexity of socio-economic,
ideological, and political issues faced by the mankind. For you there are just two colors there: black and white, bad guys and good guys, nothing more.
How pathetic and narrow-minded one should be to take someone's remark about the cheap prostitutes in his native country, as belittling the latter?! So, if that guy would tell you he found some cheap prostitutes here, in the US, he would be belittling this country?...
In regard to your advice to removing
myself from the US, I may remind you that many folks live in the countries they might not have been living in other circumstances, but alas...
Anyway, the issue was prostitution in Cuba and whether its existence is the essential characteristic of bad regime or country. My point of view that it isn't, since in this country it has been flourishing for many decades and actually boomed with the development of the Internet. And, as far as I'm concerned this fact does not belittle the US great achivements in economic and social sphere.
My second point about the "whoredom" in the US economic and political life can shock only such gullible and blind (or the ones who has no access to any mass media outlet) folks as you are, since the rest in this country and abroad are well aware about it.
As far as "statism and stalinism" are concerned who is defending them here?
Certainly, not me.
However, again, as far from everything
was/is good under monopolistic capitalism, far from everything was/is bad under Soviet, Cuban, or Venezulian socialism.

Raul A Garcia - 2/14/2009

So you should remove yourself from this whoredom sir. I almost decked a Canadian visitor to Cuba who grinned as he boasted how cheap he procured services in Cuba. This is/was my country and he was belittling it. I guess you know much about prostitution, I would not. You don't want to know the truth because it would disrupt your procrustean philosophy and lukewarm acceptance of failed systems while going back to the all-purpose "blame the empire" argument. An absurd reductionist argument. All I want is freedom for my country's people and to prevent the loss of freedom for others who are being led in the direction of statism. stalinism, and dismal failure, and as I said before, the inability to think. Damn you and your fetid conscience.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/12/2009

There only too ways Cuban prostitutes are different than American prostitutes: there are much less of the former ones and they're cheaper.
Not mentioning already that practically all US politicians and businessmen are whores of the worst kind.

DWIGHT BAKER - 2/9/2009


The use of the Internet is not going to save our nation. Just because we can air our wishes and desires to bring coalitions together to discuss between ourselves the needs of others and us is far from a FIX for our GOVERNMENT.

The Internet is not the fix it is just one step along the way to bring saneness back as a core of thought between us.

But WAKE UP WE HAVE NO POWER for our thoughts and desires to be pushed along inside of our corrupt affairs of our GOVERNMENT.

Petitions and Pleas and all our blogging trying to tell each of our stories best as we can will never bring the kind of POWER to bring about the needed changes.

The bill being discussed has had the LOBBYIST in Washington DC in a feeding frenzy adding the things that their clients WANT ADDED to the bill and some call that PORK.

I call it GREED. The give and take and chit chat and back slaps and ballyhoo are just a repulsion to me how about you?

We have the number of folks to start our own LOBBY in Washington DC. When done we would have power to affect the changes needed to bring a halt to our run a way GOVERNMENT for a time.

Our LOBBY would represent us. They would snoop too to give all of us the day by day LOW DOWN what and who were pushing for what to be added to a bill to get a FREE RIDE in our DEMOCRACY.

Our LOBBY would be seen on CSPAN each night for the nightly NEWS not VIEWS from the elites and EAST COAST BLUE BLOODS needs to have their agendas pushed down our throats.


Contact for dbaker007@stx.rr.com on how you can help push the concept of

Raul A Garcia - 2/5/2009

Chavez, thank you for the humor, the flatulence, the pompous corny affectations. Kalashnikovs in every household! Follow the Cuban model, it will lead to dissolution and worst of all, the inability to think. Elected by the people, the deserve what they voted for. I denounce the impostor, another false messiah, wallowing in the mythical muck. Alas, the "pandilla", or gang has grown to include all those subborned by petrodollars. We need some "rightwing screed" to balance the "leftwing crapola" to even attain a sense of reality here. Enjoy the junket in Cuba and the mojito and the prostitutes.

Louis Nelson Proyect - 2/4/2009

Mr. Rowan, this is by far the crudest rightwing screed to ever appear on this website. Considering the flood of material that you would expect on a George Mason University sponsored website, you really have outdone yourself.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/3/2009

perhaps many gullible American folks are going to buy them.
The truth about Chavez that he's national hero in Venezuala for common folks (not, of course, for pro-Uncle-Sam corrupted socio-economic elite) who has been DEMOCRATICALLY elected to head of state THRICE, despite desperate and criminal attemps of Venezualian elite and Washington to topple him.
As a President, H.Chavez has already done for majority of populus much more than all his predessors combined.
And this is the main truth about him and the highest merit any head of any state can deserve.