José Cipriano Castro Ruiz, 1858–1924: Don’t Cry For Me, Venezuela

I see in the papers that the protests in Greece and Spain and Argentina over foreign debts are getting uglier by the day, with much fretting over protests and riots and how are we to get through these times?

Impossible to know for sure, of course, but the past gives us a few cautionary tales of what to avoid.   Consider the case of Venezuela and Cipriano Castro.

Castro was a rural middle class boy who made good in 19th century Venezuela, hitching his wagon to the winning revolutionary side in various internal difficulties.  Enough to say that by age 43 he had seized the presidency, he set himself up as a kind of Central American Medici (without the art) – beating back various revolts and killing political opponents and living the high life as only a dictator can. Continue reading