By then Chavez was a rock star for the global left, which thought it had found a post-Cold War model in what the Venezuelan President called his Bolivarian revolution. But Chavez always practiced a strange kind of socialism, relying on Venezuela’s oil industry as much as any capitalist predecessor. With oil eventually rising as high as $140 a barrel in 2008, his government was building a million new homes and corner medical clinics (many staffed by Cuban doctors, part of a crude-for-medicine deal with Havana) and even handing out laptops and washing machines in the barrios. “We said that Venezuela became the country of the happy poor,” says economist Eduardo Fortuny. “Without really improving their income, he gave them more things. Chavez’s popularity went hand in hand with his public spending.”
Read all of the article in Time magazine.