Meet Venezuela’s Paris Hilton
We’ve spent this week pondering the possible repercussions of the December 6 parliamentary elections in Venezuela, in which pro-freedom candidates triumphed over the corrupt chavista hacks who’ve spent the last sixteen years picking the people’s pockets, destroying their economy, and maiming their liberties. We’ve also been discussing the reasons why sensible Venezuelans voted down chavismo, after all these years of wall-to-wall socialist propaganda. Those reasons, perhaps, were best summed up best in an August news article in Diario Las Américas, which is published in Miami.Under the headline “María Gabriela Chávez may be the richest woman in Venezuela,” the newspaper reported that Ms. Chávez — the daughter of the country’s late President Hugo Chávez, founder and household god of chavismo, who famously preached to his subjects that “being rich is bad” — has a fortune that amounts to something upwards of four billion dollars and that is held in banks in the U.S. and Andorra.
This makes her even richer than Gustavo Cisneros, who is worth 3.6 billion dollars and whom Forbes counts as the richest person in Venezuela. And it makes her lots, lots richer than Lorenzo Mendoza, CEO of Venezuela’s largest privately owned company, Empresas Polar, whom chavistas were taught to demonize as “the great oligarch.”
Is it necessary to underscore that María Gabriela, unlike Mendoza, hasn’t done anything to earn that kind of money? The Atlantic has described her as a “socialist socialite, bon vivant, Pomeranian enthusiast, and occasional Instagram troll,” none of which occupations are known to pay particularly well. The Venezuelan media have frequently compared her to Paris Hilton. At times during her father’s tenure, he said things that made it seem she might end up being his chosen successor. Perhaps his death — in early 2013 — came too quickly for him to make the necessary arrangements. In any event, after he died, she continued to live in the presidential palace, paying occasional visits to the likes of Fidel Castro and Cristina Kirchner. In 2014, an opposition congressman complained that she, along with the other daughters of Chávez’s and of his successor, Nicolás Maduro, were costing taxpayers $3.6 million a day. Then, in August 2014, Maduro named her alternate ambassador to the United Nations.
The UN appointment, noted The Atlantic, was “roundly condemned by the national opposition — and even some Chavistas — as ludicrous and gallingly nepotistic,” given that María Gabriela had flunked or quit the international-affairs program at Venezuela’s Central University, and, despite later receiving a journalism degree, has never practiced that profession or, apparently, any other. Noting that María Gabriela has been accused of making illegal profits off of overpriced food imports, among other things, the Atlantic suggested that her UN job might be “a way of getting her out of the public eye, while simultaneously justifying state expenditures for her upkeep and possibly granting her either diplomatic or parliamentary immunity should it ever be required.” It might even be a first step toward the presidency.
Whatever. The important fact here is that María Gabriela — daughter of an international hero of socialism who impoverished his people while vilifying men and women who got rich (and created wealth) through honest hard work — is herself a multibillionaire, thanks obviously to massive plundering of her nation’s treasury. Is there any hope that this revelation will temper the enthusiasm of countless stooges around the world for the so-called accomplishments of Hugo Chávez? Almost surely not. Such fandom, alas, has nothing whatsoever to do with reality and everything to do with utopian ideology and the empty slogans that go with it.