Venezuela: Socialism Kills

Venezuela: Socialism Kills

Long ago Winston Churchill rightly warned, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” We have now had a century of socialism and we know he was absolutely right.

It never works, and it simply impoverishes the masses. The elites do very well, thanks very much, but that’s about it. Of course leftists will forever make excuses. Whenever you point out yet another failed socialist experiment, their favourite line is: ‘But that’s not really socialism’. Yeah right.

One of our most recent and most tragic test cases of the deadly nature of socialism is Venezuela. The place is now a full-tilt socialist hell-hole, and that despite having the world’s largest known oil reserves. But it was not always a basket case.

Briefly, the South American nation of 32 million people was a Spanish colony from the 16th to the 19th centuries, gaining independence in the early 1800s. From the 1950s it had some democratic governments, but the hard left has been running things since the late 1980s, including Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) and now Nicolás Maduro.

Those leaders have turned Venezuela into one of the most miserable places on earth, rivalling places like North Korea. It is now heading into the sewer with hyperinflation, rising crime and violence, and basic food shortages and starvation. And it has become yet another socialist dictatorship.

But we shouldn’t have been surprised. Chavez for example looked to Fidel Castro for his inspiration, and he promised “hope and change” in the 1999 election. Hmmm, where did we hear that before? He even said that he would leave office in two years if the people were not happy with him. He died in office in 2013!

And his successor has been in the exact same mould. When opposition forces won Parliamentary elections in 2015 Maduro decided he would simply ignore the Constitution and do what he wanted anyway. As he infamously said back then: “I will stop by hook or by crook the opposition coming to power, whatever the costs, in any way”. Isn’t socialism wonderful?

Plenty of commentators have been following the downward spiral that is Venezuela. Let me quote from some recent articles. The nation has been a massive mess for years now. Writing in 2016 one commentator said this:

“Just this year, Venezuela has faced shortages in toilet paper, diapers and milk (and more) forcing more than 6,000 people to cross the border in Colombia to purchase necessities. The country had to ration its electricity use because of severe power shortages. It also could no longer afford to print its own money.”

Even the leftist New York Times had to admit in 2017 what a bad way the country was in:

Hunger has stalked Venezuela for years. Now, it is killing the nation’s children at an alarming rate, doctors in the country’s public hospitals say. Venezuela has been shuddering since its economy began to collapse in 2014. Riots and protests over the lack of affordable food, excruciating long lines for basic provisions, soldiers posted outside bakeries and angry crowds ransacking grocery stores have rattled cities, providing a telling, public display of the depths of the crisis.

But deaths from malnutrition have remained a closely guarded secret by the Venezuelan government. In a five-month investigation by The New York Times, doctors at 21 public hospitals in 17 states across the country said that their emergency rooms were being overwhelmed by children with severe malnutrition — a condition they had rarely encountered before the economic crisis began.

A headline from another article from last year presents this grim reality “In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.” The piece begins:

At a squat, concrete brothel on the muddy banks of the Arauca River, Gabriel Sánchez rattled off the previous jobs of the women who now sell their bodies at his establishment for $25 an hour. “We’ve got lots of teachers, some doctors, many professional women and one petroleum engineer,” he yelled over the din of vallenato music. “All of them showed up with their degrees in hand.” And all of them came from Venezuela.

As Venezuela’s economy continues to collapse amid food shortages, hyperinflation and U.S. sanctions, waves of economic refugees have fled the country. Those with the means have gone to places like Miami, Santiago and Panama.

The less fortunate find themselves walking across the border into Colombia looking for a way, any way, to keep themselves and their families fed. A recent study suggested as many as 350,000 Venezuelans had entered Colombia in the last six years. But with jobs scarce, many young — and not so young — women are turning to the world’s oldest profession to make ends meet.

Earlier this year even Newsweek wrote about the chaotic country, although perhaps more concerned about starving animals:

Venezuela’s increasingly dire food shortage continues to drive thousands of human residents to neighboring countries, but animals trapped in the nation’s zoos are also facing starvation at staggering rates. As hyper-inflation and a downward spiraling economy continue to wreak havoc on the country, photos emerged this week showing a wide range of rare beasts at the Zulia animal park visibly suffering from malnutrition. Bengal tigers, jaguars and several South American birds are among the animals shown suffering in the Maracaibo zoo from clear signs of starvation. Venezuelan animal rights leaders said ducks, pigs and goats are among the animals that have been slaughtered in order to feed the other animals in the zoo.

Another piece from January also spoke to the widescale chaos and tragedy found there:

As food shortages, looting and protests worsen in Venezuela and the political, social and economic situation continues to deteriorate, the outside world is moving against its leaders. The European Union has imposed economic and travel sanctions against seven senior Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses or breaching the rule of law in the crisis-ridden country.

The EU’s move comes after US authorities levied sanctions against dozens of Venezuela’s leaders, including President Nicolas Maduro last week. But it may do little to ease things for the people of a country which is free-falling into full-blown crisis. Looters have ransacked trucks, supermarkets and liquor stores across the nation of 30 million people, which ranks as one of the most violent in the world.

As is usually the case, in a “socialist paradise” like this, the leadership lives a life of luxury while the masses struggle to survive. Starvation is now rampant. Consider this piece from just last month:

A few years ago, there were so many donkeys, or burros, in the Venezuelan state of Falcón that they were a problem — herds everywhere, causing highway crashes and blocking airport runways. But over the past three years, the herds have shrunk dramatically as thousands of burros have been slaughtered for their meat by Venezuelans suffering through a near-famine. “There’s no more burros here,” said Odalys Martinez, a resident of the Paraguana Peninsula in northern Falcón. The collapse of the Venezuelan economy is radically changing the eating habits in the oil-producing country, where large sectors of the population are being forced to pick through garbage and slaughter domestic animals to sate their hunger.

And hyperinflation is heading off the charts there. As one business magazine says:

Venezuela’s inflation will skyrocket to 1 million percent by the end of the year as the government continues to print money to cover a growing budget hole, the International Monetary Fund predicted on Monday. The crisis is comparable to that of Germany in 1923 or Zimbabwe in the late 2000s, said Alejandro Werner, head of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department. He forecast the economy to shrink 18 percent in 2018 — the third consecutive year of double-digit contractions — as oil production falls significantly.

“The collapse in economic activity, hyperinflation, and increasing deterioration in the provision of public goods as well as shortages of food at subsidized prices have resulted in large migration flows, which will lead to intensifying spillover effects on neighboring countries,” Werner wrote in a blog post. Venezuela has been suffering a dramatic economic collapse since crude prices nosedived nearly four years ago and authorities have refused to enact economic adjustments. A number of price and exchange controls only added to the distortions.

While hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flee hunger and surging prices, President Nicolas Maduro has maintained that the crisis is a result of an “economic war” waged by his political opponents at home and abroad. As the economy unraveled, authorities stopped regularly publishing economic indicators. Economists now rely on independent estimates provided by international organizations, banks and even Venezuela’s congress to track the country’s economic meltdown.

Much more can be said about this toxic nation. Needless to say, the lefties are all rather quiet about it. Just a few years ago Venezuela was held up as a model of what socialism in action is all about. Now the leftists are deathly silent on yet more socialist misery and tyranny.

One commentator notes the many ironies found here:

Venezuela’s socialist disaster abounds with tragic ironies. The biggest revolves around Venezuela’s poor majority. The poor idolized Hugo Chávez, believing the firebrand leftist would improve their living standards by giving them their rightful share of Venezuela’s oil wealth. In Chávez, they also saw a charismatic politician who grew up poor like them, talked like them, and looked like them with his swarthy complexion and curly black hair.

There is a tragic irony here. Poor Venezuelans have instead suffered the most under Venezuela-style socialism. The regime’s biggest follies – a command-and-control economy, nationalizations, and draconian price controls – have set off hyperinflation, corruption, and shortages of basic goods: food, medicines, and even toilet paper. Public safety also has deteriorated, with the poor affected the most by a rampaging murder rate concentrated in the lawless slums doting the country and looming above Caracas, the capital. Venezuela’s murder rate is now one of the world’s worst, having quadrupled since Chávez was elected 20 years ago.

Socialism never works, but that does not stop the leftists who keep hoping that one day, somehow, it will. Witness the latest “big thing” in America and the Democratic Party: radical democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Bernie Sanders supporter and radical leftist ideologue won a Democratic primary in New York in June.

Sadly many young people seem to have no idea what socialism is all about, and their naivety about it can only mean more misery and suffering if more of their heroes get into power. Some are now even talking about a Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez ticket. Heaven help us.

They need to listen to the wise words of Thomas Sowell: “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it. Even countries that were once more prosperous than their neighbors have found themselves much poorer than their neighbors after just one generation of socialistic policies.”

Or as Margaret Thatcher warned, “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

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Bill Muehlenberg

Bill Muehlenberg

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