Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

Venezuela’s tragedy: be careful how you vote

August 8, 2017

Chavez & his mentor

It began in 1992 when paratrooper Hugo Chavez tried a military coup. He failed and was jailed, but vowed he wasn’t done. Released, in 1999 he won a democratic election as president.

Be careful how you vote.

Chavez strutted as an adversary of “U.S. imperialism” and avatar of “21st century socialism,” earning adoration from a Hollywood claque and the usual left-wing moral morons, bedazzled by the word “socialism” into excusing all manner of anti-democratic repression.

Chavez did enjoy much genuine support among poorer Venezuelans, whom he basically bought off by distributing the country’s oil wealth — while he crippled that very industry by nationalizing it and stuffing its ranks with political types, and wrecking the rest of Venezuela’s once-rich economy with an insane farrago of anti-market, statist policies.

Dwindling oil revenues could not sustain the game, the rich got poorer, and so, ultimately, did the poor too. Chavez died of cancer at 58 in 2013 before the mierda fully hit the fan. His chosen successor, former bus driver Nicolas Maduro, narrowly won a 2013 presidential election.

Maduro

Be careful how you vote. Though Maduro’s win was almost surely fraudulent, he couldn’t have pulled that off without votes from nearly half the electorate.

Then Venezuela really went off the rails, the economy collapsing in structural disarray, producing nothing, inflation exploding, people unable to get food or medicine. Instead of reversing the economic idiocies causing this, Maduro doubled down, and blamed the troubles on supposed U.S.-inspired sabotage. But few fell for this nonsense, his political support also collapsed, and the opposition won big in 2015 congressional elections. Only more fraud and manipulation denied them a decisive two-thirds majority. Maduro’s policy was now to intimidate, emasculate, and simply disregard the congress.

Meantime, the opposition also gathered more than enough signatures to force a presidential recall vote, pursuant to the Chavez-promulgated constitution. That too the regime quite simply disregarded, refusing to hold the vote.

All this plays out against a background of increasing repression (opponents jailed; forget a free press) and rising violence as protests by an increasingly desperate citizenry escalate, and the regime responds brutally. Its intransigence made negotiation efforts useless. President Maduro, who cannot win a fair vote, has now moved to seal Venezuela into a Cuban-style dictatorship by convening an all-powerful “constituent assembly” of handpicked stooges to supplant the congress and rewrite the constitution. That assembly’s “election” was — of course — another farcical fraud. (Even the company that ran it said so.)

Ortega

One of the assembly’s first acts was to fire Attorney General Luisa Ortega, a former regime stalwart, with at least a vestige of integrity that couldn’t stomach Maduro’s extreme illegal power grab, which she condemned.

And where, in all this, you might wonder, is the army? Why doesn’t it step in to protect the constitution, congress, and democracy? Because the army is part of the regime, long since packed with loyalists. Its guns are what really keep Maduro in power. It’s the army brass, not the people, he needs to keep happy. And this is not about ideology. The “socialist” and “anti-imperialist” rhetoric continues, but that’s just a fig-leaf cover for the reality. The regime, and its army, are a gang of thugs ruling Venezuela exactly as Al Capone ruled Chicago, and for the same purpose — their own criminal enrichment.

As ordinary Venezuelans sink into an abyss of deprivation, the regime and its army feed off their flesh and suck their blood. Having destroyed the normal economy, so that not even food can be purchased normally, the army has been tasked with bringing in and selling food — profiting hugely. It’s grubby fingers are in many other businesses too. Further, while the currency has become virtually worthless, they maintain an inflated official exchange rate, at around 1,000 times the Bolivar’s actual value. Why? Only insiders can exchange Bolivars for Dollars at that phony rate, plundering the state to enrich themselves. That’s why they won’t give up power. And because if they do, they’d expect punishment for their crimes.

Here is your “21st century socialism.”

What is the sad lesson of Venezuela? Be careful how you vote.

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Hugo Chavez: Vile Thug

September 24, 2012

With best buddy Khadafy

There are those who are duped into admiring (or making excuses for) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez* because he blusters about anti-capitalism, anti-colonialism, anti-Americanism, socialism, and flaunts supposed concern for the poor. Of course, that gives him a free pass for what actually amounts to the worst sort of fascism and shredding of human rights.

The difference between “right wing” dictatorships and the left wing sort is mainly in the rhetoric; but the leftist ones are actually more dictatorial, in trying to control more of the economy.

Chavez first tried to seize control through a 1992 military coup, for which he was rightly jailed. Winning power in 1998, he keeps it by following the Dictator’s Handbook (which I’ve blogged about): enriching his cronies and followers at the expense of everyone else, while crushing opposition by rigging the constitution, suborning the courts, emasculating stroppy local governments, relentless propaganda and lies, shutting down noncompliant newspapers and TV stations, imprisoning opponents on phony charges, confiscating their property, and otherwise bullying them with plain old violence. All the while posturing a bleeding heart for the downtrodden masses.

During Chavez’s time in office, Venezuela garnered around a trillion dollars in oil revenues, but typical of “resource curse” countries where such wealth serves only to keep bad governments bad, has little to show for it. Its economic growth rate has been lower than for all the other major Latin American nations, and the lowest of all the OPEC countries (which of course includes other resource-curse nations).

With best buddy Assad

But what do you expect from “socialism” which, Chavez or “Bolivarian” style, actually means destroying a population’s wealth-producing capabilities by undermining private property rights and rule of law, and any chance to get ahead except by playing the regime’s dirty game, while replacing competitive industry with state control bent to political purposes?

A recent Associated Press report capsulizes the rest of the story: “soaring murder rates, inflation, crumbling infrastructure, and poor government services. Venezuela now ranks among the most violent and corrupt places on earth.” Chavez has also been caught shipping weapons to the Colombian guerilla movement, actually a drugs-and-kidnapping gang.

Chavez faces voters on October 7. His opponent is Henrique Capriles, who seems capable, smart, decent, articulate, and well-intentioned. Government controlled media has been smearing him, including a strong anti-Semitic appeal (Capriles is Catholic, but with holocaust survivor grandparents). Chavez has probably bought off enough support, and bamboozled enough, that despite wrecking Venezuela’s democracy, economy, institutions, and society, he may yet actually win a fair vote. Though one can well question the fairness of any vote in today’s Venezuela given the many roadblocks faced by the opposition campaign and the climate of intimidation.

With best buddy Ahmadinejad

But Chavez has previously declared that an opposition victory, ending his “socialist” project, will simply not be permitted. Will he follow the playbook of Iran’s Ahmadinejad — one of Chavez’s typically disgusting best buddies — who lost a re-election bid but held onto power by killing enough objectors?

* Including Hollywood types like Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey and Michael Moore, and the usual gaggle of academic and limousine lefties.