Thirty years ago, when I was a graduate student in Caracas, I met a young Venezuelan socialist who introduced himself as Stalín.
“After the Russian,” he told me condescendingly — hoping to shock an American with the news that the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was his namesake.
I didn’t take the bait. But I thought of Stalín recently when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expressed his own admiration for “Comrade Stalin, who defeated Hitler.”
Comrade Stalin — who was just as homicidal as Hitler. Even if Stalin hadn’t been a psychopath who murdered millions in his communist purges, he’d still be the five-year-plan madman whose collectivist economic policies killed millions of others by starvation.
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Yet Stalin worship remains a badge of honor for Maduro, Stalín and so many of the leftists I met all those years ago who now run Venezuela’s ruling revolution.
And that helps explain why — the admirable work it did early on to alleviate poverty notwithstanding— that it’s now a wrecked revolution.
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Tim Padgett is WLRN’s Americas editor. Andrew Rosati contributed to this report from Caracas.