CARACAS, Venezuela, May 14 (UPI) -- Herma Marksman says Hugo Chavez was a sweet and kind lover when she was his mistress, but is untrustworthy and controlling as president of Venezuela.
Somewhere between charm and menace lurks the real Chavez, The Sunday Times of London reported.
"He is imposing a fascist dictatorship," Marksman said. "A totalitarian regime is coming because he doesn't believe in democratic institutions."
It would be easy to dismiss Marksman's criticisms as the vengeance of a woman who was Chavez' mistress for 10 years before he came into power, the newspaper said, but she is a professor of history who has written two books about Chavez's politics.
Rarely has any world leader -- least of all one elected democratically -- proved quite so hard to define as Chavez, said the Times.
Three years ago, Chavez took Venezuela's oil profits and began what he called his evangelical "missions" to transform the lives of the poor.
Suddenly, in parts of the city that governments had ignored for decades, there were new health clinics, Cuban doctors, subsidized food markets and literacy programs -- one named for Robinson Crusoe, the title character in one of Chavez's favorite books.