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Today, when most of us think about Venezuela, the former socialist President Hugo Chavez comes to mind. He led the nation from 2002 until his death in 2013. While initially a “populist” leader, he implemented a socialist revolution, fueled by massive oil revenues and made the country resemble an authoritarian state. After his death, President Nicolas Maduro succeeded him along with Juan Guaido, and the net result has been dismal. The South American country has been caught in a downward spiral for years with growing political discontent further fuelled by skyrocketing hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of food and medicine. More than 5.6 million Venezuelans have left the country in recent years. But in 1981, 40 years ago, when our 40th President came into office, Venezuela’s leader was an advocate of democracy. With a desire to solidify the relationship with this important South American ally, President Reagan held a state dinner in November 1981 for President Luis Herrera Campins and welcomed him to the White House.
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