All-Star Panel: Impact of Hugo Chavez passing

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 5, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BAIER: This is a Fox News alert. You are looking live there, although the picture is still at the second, in Caracas. The video is, there it is, live moving, some crowds there on the streets in Caracas and the death of Hugo Chavez 58-years-old, succumbed to cancer, died today. We will see what the reaction is.

We are getting reaction from the White House, as Ed Henry just reported. And the big question now is what moves forward in Venezuela. Currently, the vice president, Nicolas Maduro is in charge and he will try to stay in charge. There will be a constitutional requirement for an election within 30 days.

As you look again live there the chanting on the streets of Caracas. Hugo Chavez, a charismatic figure in Venezuela, and the announcement was made today, by his vice president about his death.


HUGO CHAVEZ, FORMER PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA: (via translator): Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this roster, the President of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil came here...The devil is right at home, the devil, the devil himself is right in the house.


BAIER: There you see the controversial meeting with President Obama in 2009. Let's bring in our panel a little early tonight, Tucker Carlson, editor of TheDailyCaller.com, Kirsten Powers, columnist for The Daily Beast, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Charles, your thoughts, reaction, what it means.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I hate to be ungracious, but I will be. He was a thug. He tried to dismantle democracy in his country, almost succeeded, and I think his country and the world will be improved by his passing.

The only problem is that the man he appointed as successor, very recently, just when he went to the last treatment in Cuba, is himself a hardcore communist and very pro-Cuba. There are some in Chavez's party who are socialists but who are not these hard-line anti-American communists.

The one country that will suffer immediately is Cuba because it and other countries in Latin America had been dependent on Chavez for concessions, for example, tons of oil at very low prices as a way to sustain their economies. And in the long run they will be cut off, they are going to have to live on their own.

The problem is Chavez's successor, who is likely to win given their might be a sympathy vote for the party with the death of Chavez he is as hard line as Chavez is. The only upside is it's hard to maintain a revolution without the charismatic leader like Chavez himself. And without him, although they may succeed in holding on in this election, it's unlikely that his movement will not dissolve, because in the end it's unsustainable and it is quite a cruel system that he initiated in his country.

BAIER: Kirsten, I talked to a Latin American diplomat today, and he said, quote "This will be a challenging time inside Venezuela. They have big economic challenges in coming days." As I mentioned, election within 30 days, that is what the constitution calls for. What about the relationship between the U.S. and what the Obama administration may or may not try to do?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well, I don't think it's ungracious, first of all, to call him a thug, because he was a totalitarian thug. This was someone who was completely anti-democratic. He was a human rights abuser and he was not a friend of the United States. So at a bare minimum at least we have the hope of possibly having somebody that we can work with. I'm not saying it looks great, but we know status quo was, this was not somebody the United States could deal with. This is a very important country, I think fourth largest oil producer in the world, and so at least there is a possibility that there is somebody that we might be able to work with.

BAIER: Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: People who look carefully at what Chavez said, and said he believed, come away confused. Was he a Marxist? Not really an orthodox one. He was a Bolivar worshiper, he talked about liberation theology. The lodestar for him really was anti-Americanism. That's what it was about and he used that idea to really unite in a baffling and terrifying way Latin America. If you think about how Latin America, which is just south of us has evolved or devolved in the past 15 years it's unbelievable. He brought a lot of people along with him.

People forget that Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinista Party, is still the president of Nicaragua after a hiatus of a number of years. It seems to me this ought to be something of a wakeup call for the United States. While our attention is so often focused on South Asia or the Middle East. We have a huge and seething group of people just south of us whose organizing principle is hating us. That's not good.

KRAUTHAMMER: But in the end I think it's unsustainable. The only reason he could sustain it is because he is sitting on oil. He spread the ideology to Bolivia, Ecuador and sustains the Sandinista in Nicaragua. But in the end, those are basket cases, and with socialism, their system and the socialism is not going to make it. It was Margaret Thatcher who said in the end socialism doesn't work because the socialists run out of other people's money. And there isn't a lot of it in Bolivia, and Ecuador, and Nicaragua to start with.

So he sustained them. The question -- I'm not sure it's a movement, but ideologically he was important because at the end of the '80s when the whole world abandoned communism as an obsolete, ridiculous idea, it was Chavez who revived it in Latin America, he's the one who gave it sort of a stature. But if you take away Chavez it could be that it will die in time. The concern I have is that in the very next election, whereas the opposition did rather well against Chavez in the last election last year, because of the way that the party controls the press and has these shock troops out there who intimidate people, it will probably hang on to power at least for a few years.

BAIER: OK. We will follow this, the breaking news continuing, Hugo Chavez, dead at the age of 58.

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