At last, Hugo Chavez has made something grow: the number of his countrymen leaving Venezuela. From the Wall Street Journal:
Waves of white-collar Venezuelans have fled the country’s high crime rates, soaring inflation and expanding statist controls, for destinations ranging from Canada to Qatar. The top U.S. destinations are Miami, a traditional shopping mecca for Venezuelans, and Houston, which has long-standing energy ties to Venezuela, a major oil exporter.There were some 215,000 Venezuelans in the U.S. in 2010, up from about 91,500 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of Venezuelans living in Spain has quintupled in the same period to more than 40,000, and the number of Venezuelan-born Spaniards has more than doubled to 90,000.
When the Chavez reign of error draws to a close, Venezuela will be a poorer country with worse prospects than it was when he found it. The declining economy will be unable to support the welfare state he hoped to build; the loss of human capital will undermine the country’s growth prospects for years if not decades.If Chavez just couldn’t help himself and he had to be a despot, why couldn’t he have been an enlightened despot like Lee Kwan Yew? Via Meadia disapproves when power hungry egotists destroy the institutions of even imperfect republics; if they then use their power, however acquired, to build up the economy and leave their country better positioned for the future, we give them partial credit towards a passing grade.For Chavez, as for his model Fidel, there isn’t much hope.