Former president Jimmy Carter returned to the scene of the crime tonight, issuing a statement that heaps effusive praise on the legacy of dead Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Carter says:
We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized. Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.
Just as he whitewashed Venezuela’s deeply flawed electoral system under which the Chavez regime held onto power, Carter completely misrepresented Chavez’s destructive legacy: Deep political polarization, authoritarian manipulation, hateful rhetoric, disastrous economic policies, and the devastation of Venezuela’s petroleum industry.
Under Venezuela’s constitution, new elections must be called in the months ahead to choose Chavez’s successor. If Venezuelans are to have any opportunity to rescue their country from the corrupt chavista cronies who are trying to hold on to power, there must be simple but profound reforms in the electoral system that Carter recently called “the best in the world.” Indeed, a free campaign and a fair vote count must be monitored for the first time in a decade by impartial, credible international observers.
In other words, if Jimmy Carter is anywhere to be seen during that electoral process, it will be very bad news for Venezuelans who want to reclaim their country and future.
US officials must do two things: Insist on a constitutional succession and free elections and ignore Jimmy Carter. Click here for a post-Chavez checklist for US policymakers.
Here is my video response to Chavez’s death: