The article from FP highlights the end of a new (geo) political order in South America, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez and Luiz Inacio da Silva.
The analysis is pretty spot on. Both men had huge personalities, and started a project that at the time, seemed realistic to them. But the strong US backed opposition (in the case of Venezuela), corruption, drop in commodity prices dwarted the legacy of the work they started.
In the end, despite their divergent strategies, both Venezuela and Brazil have wound up in the same humbled place, their earlier international dreams in tatters.
These outsized dreams were fueled by the outsized personalities of Lula and Chávez. But they were also enabled by an economic boom that couldn’t last — and, indeed, hasn’t. Their hand-picked, charisma-challenged successors have been forced to trim their ambitions amid a collapse in the price of global commodities. Rousseff — the dry, technocratic former chairman of Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras and former guerrilla leader — has struggled to recover from China’s reduced hunger for Brazilian iron ore and agricultural products, just as Nicolás Maduro has had no answer for the steep drop in the price of oil.
To be sure, Chavismo’s damage is real, and deeply felt. But the government of Chávez and Maduro and the Bolivarian project have been marked more by incompetence, corruption, and criminality, than by ideological coherence. Today, the Venezuelan economy is the worst-performing in the world, with a GDP expected to contract by around 10 percent. Its people suffer from massive shortages of basic goods like corn meal and toilet paper, inflation rates that are expected to reach 200 percent this year, and the second-highest murder rate in the world.
Read more here.