Via The Nation:
. . . Chavez was a strongman: he packed the courts, hounded the corporate media, legislated by decree and pretty much did away with any system of institutional checks and balances. But I’ll be perverse and argue that the biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chavez was authoritarian, but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough. It wasn’t too much control that was the problem but too little.
On second thought, then, perhaps more authoritarianism wouldn’t have been a good thing. True, it might have created a stronger, more efficient state that could have kept crime and corruption in check. But it also would have co-opted the grassroots into the state, creating something that probably would have looked like the PRI after the Mexican Revolution.