"Chavez inspires left but [is] no icon," insists the headline for a February 21 story by Reuters reporter Frank Jack Daniel. Daniel took time to examine what role Chavez could play in rallying Latin American leftists now that the Fidel Castro has kindly retired to let little hermano Raul take the wheel for a while indefinitely.
Daniel practically makes Chavez sound like the Barack Obama of Latin American Marxism: nice image, but still needs more experience:
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's red beret-wearing President Hugo Chavez has inspired a new generation of Latin American leftists but has a ways to go to achieve the heroic status awarded to his iconic friend Fidel Castro.
Castro, 81, stepped down on Tuesday as Cuba's leader in an armed revolution that made him a hero to guerrillas and young idealists in Latin America, even if he also became a villain for many in the world who saw him as an abusive autocrat.
So why isn't Chavez ready to fill Castro's boots? Daniel points, oddly enough, to Chavez's democratic rise to power (although he's since taken a torch to his country's constitution) as opposed to Castro's ascension to power by force of arms. Even so, notice that the d-word, dictator, is NEVER used by Daniel to refer to Chavez or Castro, while it is used to describe the man Castro ousted from power in 1959 (emphasis mine):
Many say Chavez aspires to be the galvanizing force that Castro was for many poor nations after his rag-tag rebel army defeated U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
Chavez has had less time than Castro to establish his leftist credentials, faces obstacles at home to his "21st century socialism," has alienated would-be supporters across the region by sparking bilateral spats and never overthrew a ruthless dictator.