Poverty and Parallels in Venezuela

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Michelle Garcia presented a romantic vision of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his "Bolivarian Revolution" ["Chavez Wins Hearts Among the Poor," news story, Feb. 4], but she did not mention that despite Mr. Chavez's largess toward the poor, the number of Venezuelans living in poverty has risen 10 percent since 1999, when he took office. In the past seven years, 7,000 businesses have closed, and unemployment has increased. By imposing a socialist economic model that increases the dependence of the poor on government entitlements, Mr. Chavez confirms Thomas Sowell's observation that, for politicians, the poor are a gold mine.

JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO

Arlington

ยท

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's claim in a Feb. 4 news story that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was "elected legally -- just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally -- and then consolidated power" was wrong on Hitler.

Paul von Hindenburg was elected president of Germany on March 13, 1932, with 49.6 percent of the vote, vs. Hitler's 30.1 percent; nearly 70 percent of Germans voted against Hitler.

In the April 10, 1932, runoff, Hindenburg again beat Hitler, by 53 percent to 36.8 percent. On Jan. 30, 1933, after the National Socialists had lost 2 million votes and 34 of their seats in parliament, their disruption in the streets and parliament finally forced Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as the Reich's chancellor, even though the National Socialists held a minority of cabinet posts and were a clear minority in parliament.

The parallel between the Hitler story and Venezuela rests in the agitation and disruption of the opposition, which the Bush administration already has tried to use to overthrow Venezuela's popularly elected president.

STEPHEN MIKESELL

Madison, Wis.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company