Hugo Chavez: 'I am not a socialist!'

Yes, Hugo Chavez really said it: "I am not a socialist!" Not recently, to be sure, but 14 years ago when Chavez - as a cashiered Army paratrooper who'd led a failed military coup in February 1992 -- was making a run for Venezuela's presidency. "I am not a socialist!" he said during a television interview, wearing a suit and speaking in reasonable tones. This was when he was trying hard to convince voters - especially middle-class and well-off Venezuelans who were leery of him -- that he'd definitely cast aside the bullet for the ballot. Chavez, at the time, claimed he was an idealistic moderate who would pursue a "Third Way" between capitalism and socialism. He pledged to reverse wide-spread poverty, clean up endemic corruption, and restore the oil-rich but impoverished South American nation's national pride - a nation that, during the era of high oil prices, was a beacon of democracy in the region and, many Venezuelans believed, was poised to attain first-world...(Read Full Post)