What we found was very different from what we expected. It wasn't just that the government did not understand the difference between dissenters and opponents - perhaps understandable in a climate of heightened political polarization. Nor that they seemed genuinely disinterested in anything that was not directly connected with their staying in power - also understandable when the opposition seems to only think about how to oust you from power. It was that they really didn't seem to care much about any of the reasons we were there: improving the well-being of the poor and making Venezuela an open, democratic society.
Venezuela's poor do not live in a better society. They live in a society whose government is systematically squandering the nation's largest oil boom since the seventies while at the same time restricting basic political freedoms. Those of us who want to build a truly democratic and egalitarian future for Latin America should support democratic movements committed to the respect of civil and political liberties and whose leaders genuinely care about the region's poor. We should not support Hugo Chávez.