Its infrastructure is "failing." Its overall "domestic challenges" are daunting.
"Chavez is known for strutting on the international stage, playing bad boy to the United States. The Ahmadinejads, Castros and Ortegas of our world could count on a hero's welcome in Caracas."
"Chavez's heir will probably be hard-pressed to cast the same giant Bolivarian shadow over the international landscape."
Whoever's eventually chosen will inherit strong popular support. It extends way beyond Venezuela. It's invaluable political capital. Chavez won't lead Venezuela forever.
His successor must use it wisely. Doing so can sustain Bolivarianism longterm. Venezuelans want it no other way.
Mark Weisbrot headlined "Continuity Likely Even Without Chavez."
Last October, he was overwhelmingly reelected. PSUV candidates dominated regional and local elections. Nothing suggests near or intermediate-term change.
Weisbrot explained what other Times contributors omitted. He discussed vital social progress. Poverty was dramatically cut. Extreme poverty dropped over 70%.
Elevating Venezuelans "came from increased employment, not 'government handouts.' "
Millions got free healthcare and education for the first time. "Eligibility for public pensions tripled." In the last two years alone, "hundreds of thousands of (vitally needed) houses" were built.
Throughout Chavez's tenure, "the private sector (grew) faster than the public sector."
"If you follow Venezuela and haven't heard this, it's because (media scoundrels provide) the equivalent of a 'tea party' view of the country."
Pre-Chavez years were "economic(ally) disast(rous)." From 1980 - 1998, per capita income fell. Chavez turned disaster into success.
Press reports highlight 18% inflation. It's perhaps the region's highest. It's falling. It dropped from 28.2 in 2010. Responsible policies will drop it further.