The list of people attending Hugo Chavez's funeral Friday or sending condolences reads like a who's-who of the world's tyrants and Marxists, including several U.S. congressmen and celebrities.
There's Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cuba's Raul Castro, New York Congressman Gregory Meeks, Massachusetts former Congressman William Delahunt, Sean Penn and Jesse Jackson. Former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and his son, current Rep. Joseph Kennedy III sent praises and prayers. The United Nations Human Rights Council, including the U.S. representative, held a moment of silence Wednesday for Chavez, the Venezuelan strongman.
They came to praise Chavez, not to bury him.
In the Left's world, Chavez will live on as a hero of the people, friend of the poor, champion of democracy, etc. ad nauseum.
Being a funeral, most of the week's statements were pretty low-key, but the feelings for Chavez from the Left are not.
Consider the words of a commercial the elder Kennedy produced in 2008, blasting "Big Oil" and praising Chavez for donating heating oil to poor people in the U.S. through Citizens Energy, a nonprofit Kennedy runs:
"Our own government cut fuel assistance. And the Big Oil companies with oil and money to burn all said "no" when we asked for help. All but one. Citgo, owned by the Venezuelan people, is donating millions of gallons to nonprofit Citizens Energy."
As far as the Left is concerned, Chavez was the Venezuelan Christ.
"Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion," Penn told the Hollywood Reporter this week.
When Chavez came to power by popular election in 1999, he implemented a constitution that guaranteed human rights for Venezuelans. After surviving an attempted coup d'etat in 2002, which Chavez blamed on the U.S., he and his followers seized the supreme court by adding 12 seats and packing them with political appointees, and began cracking down on dissidents, human rights activists and journalists.
The increasing concentration of power eventually allowed Chavez to intimidate, harass and censor anyone who got in his way with impunity. members of the packed court have openly rejected the separation of powers and declared themselves advocates of Chavez's agenda.
In 2009, Chavez called for the imprisonment of Judge María Lourdes Afiuni for 30 years because she granted conditional liberty to a political dissident who had rotted in jail for three years awaiting a court date. Afiuni spent a year in prison awaiting pretrial and remains under house arrest.
Under Chavez, journalism that offends politicians or "foments anxiety" among the public is illegal and can be met with severe penalties. He expanded the number of government-run television stations from one to six, removed the nation's popular RCTV from the air and cable, and has pursued Globovision, the last remaining broadcast station critical of his government.
His government has also rejected international human rights intervention, refusing to enforce rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is Venezuelans' only recourse when their nation's courts fail to provide justice.
In 2010, his supreme court ruled that any human rights activists or groups that receive foreign aid or contributions can be prosecuted for treason.
Chavez said his role model was Cuba's Fidel Castro, and he was a staunch supporter of the abusive governments of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Burma and Libya, honoring several of those countries' leaders with the Order of the Liberator, Venezuela's highest honor.
On the plus side, Chavez is not known to have engaged in mass murder.
But he was a thug, tyrant and liar who amassed a personal fortune of $2 billion while posing as a champion of the poor, and the Left loves him for it.
Hmm. ... Sounds vaguely familiar. ...