Here\'s Your Chance

For thirty years, the left has been claiming that if only the US hadn't (allegedly) intervened in Chile and installed Pinochet in Santiago, Allende would have shown the world what a democratically elected socialist could do when given the chance. A generation later, their day has come round once more:

President Hugo Chávez was sworn in to a new six-year term at a ceremony here on Wednesday in which he described Jesus as “the greatest socialist in history” and pledged to speed Venezuela’s metamorphosis into a Socialist country.

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In his speech, the president defended his decision this week to nationalize companies in the telecommunications and electricity industries and promised to seek greater control over natural gas projects. He also renewed his request to Congress for decree powers, saying a “revolutionary law of laws” would allow him to hasten the construction of Socialism.

Since his re-election last month, Mr. Chávez has moved swiftly to group his varied supporters into a single Socialist party. In addition to his nationalization campaign, he has called for the end of the central bank’s independence from politics and the rewriting of the commercial code.

Now's the chance for Chavez to show the world what a socialist with popular support can do. If there's a country where socialism has a chance of working, it's Venezuela. Rich oil reserves should give it considerable room for error and, if managed sensibly, reduce its dependence on foreign investment. Speaking of which, Chavez's recent remarks have created an investment opportunity for the faithful:

Investors reacted with alarm here and in markets in the United States and throughout Latin America on Tuesday as they measured the impact of the plan by Chávez to nationalize crucial areas of the economy. Flashbacks of past nationalizations during another turbulent era in places like Cuba and Chile helped drive down the main index on Caracas's stock exchange almost 19 percent.

Viva!

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