Chavez will be remembered for improving the wealth and political participation of the poor
The inequal distribution of wealth dropped to the lowest in the Americas during his tenure
While Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves, production dropped under Chavez
Venezuela devalued its currency by 30% last month and is saddled with high inflation
Hugo Chavez, the man who built his powerful persona on a populist platform of sharing Venezuela’s vast oil wealth with the poor and disenfranchised, leaves his nation with a greater distribution of cash to the poor.
But his death also leaves an economy in tatters, some analysts say, as the country had to step in and massively devalue its currency 30% to the U.S. dollar last month. While the OPEC-member nation is sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves and is among the biggest oil exporters, oil production has declined.
Chavez built his political base in the barrios of Venezuela, and his pledge to share the wealth among the nation’s poorest is the strongest measure of his success during 14 years in office. The inequal distribution of wealth dropped to among the lowest in the Americas during his tenure. In 2011, the Gini coefficient – which measures income inequality –was .39, down from nearly .5 in 1998, according to the CIA Factbook. That is behind only Canada in the Western Hemisphere.
“He’s made Venezuelans feel proud to be Venezuelan again. And that is something I think that really no other leader in that country has done there before – in fact, they were doing the opposite,” Eva Golinger, a former Chavez advisor, told CNN.