And when countries are under attack, the space for civil liberties diminishes. Sometimes that's for legitimate reasons, and sometimes it's not and is opportunistic on the part of would-be authoritarians. But it's essentially a law of nature; it always happens.
I asked him if it was true that he had ordered a delay in the evacuation of the Vargas region hit by the mudslide because it might interfere with the election he was in the process of winning. He didn't like that question. Then I asked him about improving relations with the U.S. That ended the interview.
Bertrand Russell once wrote about the American revolutionary Thomas Paine, "He had faults, like other men; but it was for his virtues that he was hated and successfully calumniated." This was certainly true of Hugo Chávez Frias.
When a controversial political figure dies, I find it interesting that every college student on Facebook automatically becomes a political science expert.
With promises to boost spending for the poor, Correa's popularity soared in the lead up to the Ecuador election, as he capitalized on the surge in world oil prices and the commodity boom in Latin America to initiate a spree of social spending. Sound familiar?
As long as the oil was flowing, it appeared Chavez would be able to hold onto power. But as he grew ill, it appeared that so did his country.
I found Hugo Chavez conflicting. In a strange way, he was extraordinarily easy to like, but of course many people -- both good and bad -- who rise to prominence can be that way. Chavez was larger than life. He was very engaging.
Hugo Chavez defied this history of power relations in the hemisphere. And for that defiance elite voices will vilify him, but a far larger number of people will see him as a hero.
It was a question of dates, of choosing a date on the calendar to announce what many of us had already imagined. The news of the Hugo Chavez's death was produced on Tuesday afternoon, but for months his early end was predictable.
President Hugo Chavez's death, while not unexpected, brings an uncertain future to a country that he ruled with an iron fist. It also may present a great opportunity for American diplomacy in Venezuela and Latin America.
Hugo Chavez is dead -- but he is no hero. Even as his supporters pour into the streets to mourn their fallen idol, the damage he caused to Venezuela is incalculable.
As Chavez is now laid to rest, the one thing I am certain of is that the mainstream American media will once again fail to accurately and fairly capture the positives and negatives of this complicated leader.
There are a number of distortions and problems with Venezuela's economy -- including recurrent shortages -- and some of them have to do with the management of the exchange rate system. But none of these problems present a systemic threat to the economy.
Venezuelans have spent that decade struggling under the yoke of high unemployment, rampant inflation and crippling shortages of everything from rice to flour to coffee. It has left Chávez in the awkward position of blaming Venezuela's hobbled private sector for the failure of his own socialist policies.