‘Venezuela: The Fruits of Socialism’

“We like to think that progress is irreversible. We look at our roads and supermarkets and hospitals and while we know that everything could be better, we rarely worry it will all collapse. Unhappily, right now Venezuela is proving that all of this can suddenly disappear, and it’s frightening.

“The country is falling apart, rapidly and completely. By many measure, it is one of the most blessed nations in the Americas. It has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, almost twice Canada’s. It has rich agricultural land, incredible biodiversity and huge amounts of mineral wealth.

“And yet, its people are now starving; its infrastructure is in tatters; law and order have broken down. And strangely, Canada doesn’t appear to care.

venezuela-protests

“In the late 1990s, after a string of corruption scandals, a disillusioned populace turned away from the two main traditional political parties and elected the populist {socialist} demagogue Hugo Chávez. The ensuing “Bolivarian Revolution” completely rewired the Venezuelan constitution and economy.

“Industries were nationalized. Price controls were implemented. Farmland was expropriated. The currency was devalued. As a result, not surprisingly, the economy completely collapsed.

“At the same time, its democratic institutions were also assaulted. Human rights abuses multiplied, elections were fixed and political opponents were jailed. The slide into chaos continued after Chávez’s death in 2013 when his successor, Nicolás Maduro, doubled down on the same policies.

“Now, drought has effectively shut off hydroelectric power. The drop in oil prices has decimated government revenues—it can no longer afford to keep its offices open for even three days a week. Unemployment is endemic. Hospitals have run out of medicine, equipment, even bed sheets. There are food riots in the streets, a state of emergency has been declared, and the military is being mobilized to prevent further rioting.

“There is no indication that Maduro will back down and institute economic or political reforms. He continues to blame Venezuela’s troubles on either international conspiracies or his political opponents. Legislation passed by the opposition-controlled congress is either blocked by loyalists in the Maduro-appointed judiciary or simply ignored by the President and the bureaucracy.

Venezuela--Maduro

“And there’s not much anyone can do about it. One of the only successes of the Bolivarian Revolution was to insulate Caracas from outside pressure. The international community has few levers to pull that would force Maduro to moderate his political or economic abuses.

“One man who has not given up hope is the secretary-general of the ‘Organization of American States’, Luis Almagro. The unwritten rules of leading multilateral organizations such as the OAS, the ‘African Union’ or the ‘United Nations’ is that you should smile a great deal, be polite to everyone and maybe issue the occasional anodyne press release about “consensus building”—just ask Ban Ki-moon.

Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro
“Almagro, a former Uruguayan foreign minister, didn’t get that memo, and his tenure to date at the OAS has been an impressive display of muscular diplomacy. He has been a lonely champion for the Venezuelan people, willing to call out Maduro’s abuses and crimes… In return, the Venezuelan strongman has railed furiously against the secretary-general, attacking him at protest rallies reminiscent of 1984’s “Two Minutes Hate”.

“…A senior diplomat of one of the member states of the OAS told me Almagro’s outspoken efforts had created space for other leaders to speak out more freely. But so far, no one is taking advantage of this. The United States has been mostly silent, as has Canada. You would think that the single biggest economic and political crisis in the western hemisphere would warrant at least a comment from Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, but so far he has done little other than meet with a delegation of Venezuelan opposition members.

“International relations almost always involve painful trade-offs, as we have seen in the case of the sale of ‘LAV’s to Saudi Arabia. Situations like Venezuela, where the right thing to do is so clear and requires so few sacrifices, are rare. Canada could be incredibly useful merely by speaking up about the human rights abuses, continuing to support the ‘Inter-American Human Rights System’, and increasing local programming to back democratic reform.

“Canada is almost never as influential as the public thinks. We’re very good at lending a helping hand (unless of course that requires any actual military effort), but that’s usually about it. Venezuela provides a unique opportunity to play a more significant role. To say things other countries won’t, to do things that matter, to help Almagro fight the good fight. For the life of me, I don’t understand why we aren’t.”

–‘Venezuela collapses and nobody cares’,
Scott Gilmore, Maclean’s, June 19, 2016

http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/venezuela-collapses-and-nobody-cares/

VenezuelanProtests-2015

“Civil society is rapidly deteriorating in Venezuela. Once a prosperous oil producer, the nation is slipping into a state of chaos that is beginning to resemble Somalia. And Hannah Dreier, an ‘Associated Press’ correspondent in Caracas, says things just keep getting worse.

“What we’re seeing right now is really the start of a humanitarian crisis,” she says. “What’s so strange and so unique to Venezuela is that they won’t take any international aid. I have readers who write to me and ask, ‘How can I help? I really want to do something — to give some money; some food to these people.’ The truth is they can’t, because all of that kind of help is prohibited. You can’t give these people medicine, you can’t give people food, you can’t even just give people $100, which would make a huge difference in anyone’s life here.”

Food riots are breaking out daily, rolling blackouts are becoming a regular occurrence, and basic medical supplies are running out of stock. As instability continues to cripple the country, some fear that the Western Hemisphere will soon see its own refugee crisis.

“You hear stories almost daily now of people drowning trying to cross through the [border] rivers,” Dreier says. “People are dying on the bridge that they let some very sick people use to walk between [Venezuela and Colombia]. Airlines are also fleeing the country — right now it’s very hard to get a flight out. One of my flights was cancelled recently and I had to wait a full day to find another one to get me out of the country. It’s very isolated, and people who want to leave can’t because they don’t have the money to buy a plane ticket. Almost everyone I know wants to leave.”

Caracas international airport, 10 am on a Monday (PHOTO -- Hannah Dreier)

Caracas international airport, 10 am on a Monday (PHOTO — Hannah Dreier)

“International news out of Venezuela is also getting harder and harder to come by as some media outlets pack up. Those who have stayed are also facing danger.

“I recently had a group of armed gangs tell me that I needed to leave the neighbourhood because I was a ‘gringo imperialist’,” Dreier says. “It can feel threatening, and there are also some issues with getting people accredited … Physically getting information from Venezuela to other countries has gotten very hard. There’s no international calling anymore so if something happens, I can’t just call up my editors. It also means that if you’re a Venezuelan — a lot of people have family in Colombia and the United States, and you can’t make those calls anymore.”

The nation’s educational system is also beginning to completely fail. Venezuela’s 7 million schoolchildren have missed about 40% of their academic year, primarily because there is no one there to teach them. Like other civilians, educators must wait for hours in food lines, and some have gone missing or have been killed amid rising vigilantism.

“The school situation here is so sad — that was really one of the crown jewels of the socialist revolution,” Dreier says. “For years, schools were getting better and better, and it seemed like people really might escape poverty. But now, the estimates are that about 40% of teachers aren’t showing up — they’re in food lines and trying to make their own lives work. So, you have these kids who risk their lives to get through the slums and get to their schools, and they show up and it’s like an all-day lunch hour — they’re just hanging out and waiting for someone to come teach them.”

“At least 45 school cafeterias in Caracas have been robbed this year as the thieves search for school lunch supplies to sell on the black market. Dreier says that “thugs” have also taken over the nation’s largest beer distributor…”

–‘In Venezuela, Society Crumbles Under the Weight of Political Crisis’,
T.J. Raphael and Jack D’Isidoro, WNYC, June 20, 2016

http://www.wnyc.org/story/venezuelas-failing-schools/

Venezuela -- money wheelbarrow

‘This Is The End: Venezuela Runs Out Of Money To Print New Money’

Venezuela, in other words, is now so broke that it may not have enough money to pay for its money.

“Among the new information revealed by ‘Bloomberg’ is that last month {March, 2016}, ‘De La Rue’, the world’s largest currency maker, sent a letter to the central bank complaining that it was owed $71 million and would inform its shareholders if the money were not forthcoming. The letter was leaked to a Venezuelan news website and confirmed by ‘Bloomberg News’…

“We expect these last ditch efforts to obtain much needed paper currency for the hyperinflating nation will break down shortly, forcing Venezuela into one of two choices: do away with cash entirely and resort to barter, or begin printing high-denomination bills which in turn will only facilitate even faster hyperinflation, as there will be no actual physical limit on how much something can cost; as of right now, the very physical limit is how many 100-bolivar bills one can put on a wheelbarrow.

Venezuela -annual inflation rate

“Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, who has studied hyperinflation for decades, says that to maintain faith in the currency when prices spiral, governments often add zeros to bank notes rather than flood the market.

“It’s a very bad sign to see people running around with wheelbarrows full of money to buy a hot dog,” he said. “Even the cash economy starts breaking down.”

“In Venezuela’s case, it is sadly too late.”

–‘This Is The End: Venezuela Runs Out Of Money To Print New Money’,
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, April 27, 2016

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-04-27/end-venezuela-runs-out-money-print-new-money?page=5

Venezuela--Caracas, May, 2016

“Police in riot gear clashed with thousands of protesters trying to reach the headquarters of Venezuela’s electoral body Wednesday to demand a referendum to recall unpopular President Nicolas Maduro.

“The anti-government protest was the third in a week, and came days after the socialist president declared a state of emergency in the economically struggling country. He gave himself decree {dictatorial} powers for 60 days.

“Thousands of people turned out for the march in downtown Caracas, but police blocked the route. A small group tried to break through and was turned back by tear gas.

“On Tuesday, opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on the country to reject the extra powers granted Maduro.

“If Maduro wants to apply this decree, he needs to start preparing tanks and warplanes, because he’ll have to apply it by force,” Capriles said.

“The president went on television later in the day to criticize his opponents, including the opposition-controlled legislature. He said he would use the decree powers to take away congress’ control of the budget.

“Maduro said he would keep the decree powers in effect through the rest of the year so opposition legislations “are not going to sabotage me on the budget.”

President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo -- Ramon Espinosa)

President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo — Ramon Espinosa)

“Government opponents also protested in other parts of the country and as darkness fell, people leaned out their windows in major cities to bang pots to show their anger.

“Human rights groups said more than 50 people were injured in the protests nationwide.

“Venezuela has seen constant small-scale protests in recent weeks against widespread water and electricity cuts. The opposition roiled the country with bloody nationwide protests in 2014, but protests have tended to be small and peaceful since then.

“A majority of the country wants Maduro out, according to opinion polls. Venezuelans overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in congressional elections in December, but state institutions have blocked the opposition-controlled congress from passing any legislation.

“With Congress unable to push through legislation, opposition leaders have begun turning their attention to the streets and the recall referendum as their best option to exert political pressure.

“Opponents of the Maduro administration abroad have been asking the ‘Organization of American States’ to pressure Venezuela to allow the opposition more space in the political arena. Maduro responded by calling OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro a tool of the CIA.

“On Wednesday, Almagro called that claim absurd and said he would not be threatened.

“I am not a CIA agent. And your lie, even if it is repeated a thousand times, will never be true,”

he wrote in an open letter to Maduro.”

–‘Anti government protesters clash with police in Venezuela’,
The Associated Press, May 18, 2016

http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/anti-government-protesters-clash-with-police-in-venezuela/

Venezuela--LootedSupermarket

‘Scenes From The Venezuela Apocalypse:
“Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket, Looking For Food’

“Over the last two weeks, several provinces have hosted scenes of looting in pharmacies, shopping malls, supermarkets, and food delivery trucks. In several markets, shouts of “We are hungry!” echoed. On April 27, the Venezuelan ‘Chamber of Food’ (‘Cavidea’) reported that the country’s food producers only had 15 days left of inventory

“…Videos posted to social media showed desperate people falling over each other trying to get bags of rice. One user claimed the looting occurred because it is difficult to get cereal, and so people “broke down the doors…”

“In the central province of Carabobo, residents ransacked a corn warehouse located in the coastal city of Puerto Cabello. They reportedly broke down the gate because workers were giving away small portions.

There’s no rice, no pasta, no flour,” resident Glerimar Yohan told ‘La Costa’,only hunger.”

“With the economy dead, the only thing remaining is to watch as society implodes…

“And that is how all socialist utopias always end.”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-13/scenes-venezuela-apocalypse-countless-wounded-after-5000-loot-supermarket-looking-fo

Venezuela--Empty shelves at a supermarket in Caracas

“Venezuela is out of food.

“After several years of long lines, rationing, and shortages, the socialist country does not have enough food to feed its population, and the opposition government has declared a “nutritional emergency”. This is just the most recent nail in the beleaguered country’s slow, painful economic collapse.

“Many people expect an economic collapse to be shocking, instant, and dramatic but, really, it’s far more gradual than that. It looks like empty shelves, long lines, desperate government officials trying to cover their tushes, and hungry people.

“For the past two years, I’ve been following the situation in Venezuela as each shocking event has unfolded. Americans who feel that our country would be better served by a socialist government would be wise to take note of this timeline of the collapse.

“In 2013, many began to suspect that the outlook for Venezuela was grim when ‘prepping’ {the stocking and storing of supplies} became illegal. The Attorney General of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega Díaz, called on prosecutors to target people who are “hoarding” basic staples with serious sanctions.

“Shortly thereafter, grocery stores instituted a fingerprint registry to purchase food and supplies. Families had to register and were allotted a certain amount of supplies, to prevent “hoarding.”

“Then, just over a year ago, it became even more apparent that the country was failing when long lines for basic necessities such as laundry soap, diapers, and food became the norm rather than the exception. Thousands of people were standing in line for 5-6 hours in the hopes that they would be able to purchase a few much-needed items.

“Shortly after the story broke to the rest of the world, the propaganda machine shifted into high gear. As the government began to ration electricity, it was announced that this was not due to economic reasons at all, but instead was a measure of their great concern for the environment.

WhatDidSocialistsUse(600)

“As the situation continued to devolve, farmers in Venezuela were forced to hand over their crops last summer. The government assumed control of essential goods like food, and began putting retail outlets out of business. Then, once they had control of the sales outlets, they began forcing farmers and food manufacturers to sell anywhere from 30-100% of their products to the state at the price the state opted to pay, as opposed to stores and supermarkets.

“But that wasn’t enough to keep the population fed. (Isn’t it astonishing how much less motivated people are to produce food and supplies when they are no longer allowed to benefit from their hard work? Historically, collectivism and farming have never gone successfully hand in hand.)

“This January {after wrecking the agricultural sector}, the government told citizens that they would need to produce their own food. The ‘Ministry of Urban Farming’ was created to oversee this. While self-reliance sounds great, it isn’t so great in Venezuela. Just so the urban farmers don’t get too self-reliant, a registry of the crops and livestock will be required. (And obviously, they’ve already proven that they have no issue forcing farmers to hand over what they’ve produced.)

Veneuela--EmptyShelves

“Now, it looks like all of the socialist measures and forced food production haven’t been enough to keep the people of Venezuela fed. The country is in so much trouble now that it isn’t possible to cover it up with propaganda.

“According to ‘Breitbart.com’, lawmakers have learned nothing.

Socialist legislators are hoping to manipulate the initiative in the other direction, and use it to expand government control of private food enterprises. Legislator Héctor Rodríguez has insisted that the economic emergency “does absolutely nothing”, and the government should impose itself on private enterprises. Another socialist legislator, Ricardo Molina, is calling for the government to expropriate ‘Polar’, Venezuela’s largest private food corporation:

“We have to intervene on private sector enterprises.”

“Venezuela previously forced a ‘Polar’ food distribution center in Caracas to shut down in July, putting 12,000 tons of food, six million liters of soft drinks, and 2,000 jobs at risk.”

“And now, the announcement of the “nutritional emergency” makes it official. Venezuela is out of food, and it’s only a matter of time before Venezuelans are quite literally starving due to a long series of terrible decisions by their leaders.”

–‘Venezuela Is Out Of Food: Here’s What An Economic Collapse Really Looks Like’,
Daisy Luther, Activist Post, February 14, 2016

http://www.activistpost.com/2016/02/venezuela-is-out-of-food-heres-what-an-economic-collapse-really-looks-like.html

Venezuela -- Lineup at the Supermarket

‘EL UNIVERSAL’, October 03, 2013:

“Venezuela’s Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz said on Thursday that people involved in hoarding of basic staples would face serious sanctions. In that regard, she called on prosecutors to seek their detention.

“The attorney general called on people to remain calm, not to fall for provocations, and not to be afraid of the “alleged” food shortage…

“According to a press release, the Attorney General Office has designated an ad hoc group of prosecutors to work nationwide with other authorities and cope with the threats against food security and, consequently, against the State.”

http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/131003/attorney-general-urges-prosecutors-to-seek-detention-of-hoarders

Lenin-Trotsky_1920-05-20_Sverdlov_Square_(original)

“On November 7, 1917, Bolsheviks, headed by Vladimir Ilich Ulianov Lenin and Lev Trotsky, led a coup d’état, dissolved the interim government of Alexandr Kerenski and, with the armed support of the ‘Red Guard’ (party militias) expelled the majority composed of ‘Mensheviks’ and revolutionary socialists from the ‘Congress of Soviets’.

“In this way, a party of 200,000 militants took control over 170 million Russians trapped, at that time, in the pit of the ‘Great War’ and ignorant of being in the face of a raising power that would stretch its dominance and influence out to the remotest sites on planet — a dream that would leave, along 74 years, a trail of disgrace and millions of casualties. Disgraces which, as in the Cuban case, survive to date, or, still worse, as in the Venezuelan case, were born after the Soviet empire had disappeared.

“…I have brought the example up because there is certainly a link between the tragedy out there…and the tragic farce here. Firstly, the last thing, the outcome: the failure of the economic model, similar in both cases, with the effects of scarcity of any kind of goods; liquidation of private property, and the haunting ghost of famine.

“Secondly, the condition in both processes of a weak State, whose power relies on its only economic factor — in this case, the oil income. Consequently, when such economic factor decays, as it happened in the nineties and is happening nowadays, the system collapses and eventually disappears.

“Thirdly, the existence of a political model that tries to take full control of society by means of a party that is concomitantly government, State and also armed forces.

“Fourthly, the dogma, according to which, revolution is infallible and irreversible, in which name any sort of unlawfulness is committed and a whole country is sequestered.

“Fifthly, the long-lasting dominance that turns the ruling class into a factor that creates corruption and absolute impunity; a blend, where the interests of the revolution are confounded with the interests of individuals.

“However, an unfinished business remains when your political work takes place in a context where basic features of democracy survive, namely: the right to elect. Therefore, wherever you submit to the people’s will and lose the support of the majority, then, you flee forward; you stop being so fussy with democracy and resort to the dossier of the coup d’état, as Lenin and Trotsky did it in 1917.

“This was also the case in Venezuela in February 2016, where they passed over the National Assembly and disregarded the mandate of almost eight million voters to satisfy the ambition of a tiny minority that long ago lost its composure and is not fighting for the defense of the people’s interest, but for preserving the power without taking care of consequences.”

–‘Two coups’,
EL UNIVERSAL, February 20, 2016

http://www.eluniversal.com/opinion/160220/two-coups

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2 Responses to “‘Venezuela: The Fruits of Socialism’”

  1. theanimalthatthereforeiam3 Says:

    Reblogged this on catsaremine3.

    Like

  2. Gerry Gagnon Says:

    http://www.vox.com/2016/5/26/11774482/venezuela-socialist-collapse

    Like

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