Update on Venezuela

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One Sunday, Nicolás Maduro was “reelected” president of Venezuela for a second six-year term. But most Venezuelans who oppose Maduro knew the process was rigged and refused to participate. Legitimate opposition parties were not allowed to field candidates and outside observers were not permitted in polling places. Although the nation has a population of about 32 million, Maduro was credited with only 5.8 million votes.

The current situation in Venezuela can be traced to Marxist Hugo Chávez’ ascendency to power in 1999. The corruption, redistribution, press control and industry nationalizations that followed have crippled the country. Inflation is currently estimated at 13,000% annually and 5000 migrants are fleeing the country daily, most to Columbia. There are hunger and healthcare crises as well. According to one study, the average Venezuelan actually lost 24 pounds in body weight last year. Even so, Maduro continues to blame evil capitalists and the US for the nation’s ills.

You might say that Venezuela’s demise is happening before our eyes, but for most Americans it’s not. CNN, CNBC, and other major media outlets have little or no interest in what’s going on there. Venezuela continues to be the most underreported economic story of the last two decades.

The truth is that Venezuela is an inconvenient truth for a mainstream media afraid to consider the cause. Before Chávez took power, Venezuela was a prosperous nation with the world’s largest proven oil reserves. The list of early Chávez admirers includes the likes of politicians Jesse Jackson and Jeremy Corbyn, Hollywood elites Michael Moore and Sean Penn, and even leftist economists like Joseph Stiglitz. The only rational explanation for the current tragedy is socialism but acknowledging this raises more questions. Bernie Sanders is a self-avowed socialist and Democrats from Obama to Clinton to Warren lean heavily in that direction. If socialism is responsible for the disaster in Venezuela, then why would it possibly work in the US?

As former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warned, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” There is little left to confiscate in Venezuela and Maduro’s rigged reelection suggests that a peaceful end to the madness in the near future is unlikely. This is disturbing enough. But the lessons from Venezuela should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans. The economics of a welfare state, a “living” minimum wage, single-payer healthcare and free college for everyone don’t add up. If we venture down the same road, we will arrive at the same place.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. ZZZ  •  May 23, 2018 @7:03 PM

    JP–kudos as always for covering Venezuela. Economics in one lesson.

  2. ChrisJ  •  May 24, 2018 @10:08 AM

    This is a stretch. Venezuela is a third world country. What happens there will stay there.

  3. barry.v  •  May 25, 2018 @8:21 PM

    ZZZ nailed it. VZ is a warning for US, what we get if we elect Bernie