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.
You simply can't logically and empirically connect "socialism" to our country's economic/social/political system's reality, a reality that we can see and measure.
Last week the New York Times did something it has never done before -- in its "Room for Debate" section it offered differing views on Venezuela.
He may not speak the seductive language of 21st century socialism, but Mexico's newly elected president Enrique Peña Nieto is well poised to fill the void of regional leadership arising from the impending departure of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.
Since assuming the highest office in the nation in 2008, questions have surrounded Raul Castro's few trips abroad. This time the controversy ranged from cheering people to critics demanding the General be put on trial.
Hugo Chavez retaining power in Venezuela could be just what the doctor ordered for the recovery of the American housing market. Despite his absence due to health issues, his presence still looms large.