How much can Venezuela endure? How long will the government-sponsored descent into madness continue? When Hugo Chavez sought the presidency in 1998, his mentor and guiding light Fidel Castro warned against representing himself to the public as a Communist. Castro advised the popular political insurgent, whose candidacy was resonating across swathes of the Venezuelan poor and working class, to position himself as a moderate.
It took less than two decades for Chavez-style Communism to destroy what was once South America’s economic envy. Scholarly estimates place the death toll of socialist and Communist regimes at 85 million during the 20th century alone. As Moscow, and later Beijing, sought to spread the tentacles of their totalitarian philosophy across the globe, they proved to be monuments to hypocrisy. The ruling classes and top Communist party officials lived like kings while working people starved in famines. The socialist utopian ideal of world peace was discredited by the fact that the Soviet Union, during the Cold War, was spending 50% of its budget on the military.
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When people are given a choice, they will choose democracy and capitalism over totalitarianism and socialism. In Czechoslovakia, where the Soviet Union had moved in tanks to brutally repress 1968’s Prague Spring, it took the leadership of Vaclav Havel to end two generations of Soviet domination. Havel and his organization the Civic Forum, took to the streets, chanting “Love and truth will win over lies and hate.” In just 10 days the Communist regime collapsed in November of 1989.
It is difficult to imagine such a situation unfolding in Venezuela. The circumstances are different. Venezuela counts on a highly politicized military, working class paramilitary groups, and an enormous cadre of Cuban military, technical, and geopolitical advisers, in attempt to keep the sinking ship afloat.
The Venezuelan regime, through the efforts of the Cartel of the Suns, is one of the world’s foremost drug trafficking organizations, led by former National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello and current vice president Tareck El Aissami. President Maduro’s nephews were arrested for massive drug trafficking in Haiti, and recorded saying that the proceeds of their enterprise were going to fund First Lady of Venezuela Cilia Florez’s campaign for the national assembly.
As it stands now, it appears clear that the totalitarian regime in Venezuela will battle to the gates of Hell to stay in power. They could care less about the international community, or human rights, or the living standards of the Venezuelan people, or the body count on the streets. They will use whatever means necessary to perpetuate their vice grip on power.
But the Venezuelan opposition must remember the message of Vaclav Havel. Ultimately, it is only a message of love and truth that will bring an end to Venezuela’s Communist regime.
We live in an age where academic, cultural, and media elites are fond of whitewashing socialism. We, the public, are subjected to a series of half-baked arguments. Chief amongst these is the notion that socialism in and of itself is not a bad idea. No, no, no. Socialism has just never been done properly.
This is fundamentally dishonest. Socialism has been done properly in every continent in the world, and true socialism and Communism has always been rejected by the people. In fact, people the world over have died in the millions trying to flee the socialist world for the free world: from Cuba to Vietnam to Cambodia to North Korea to East Berlin to the Iron Curtain that divided Europe into the free and prosperous west and the totalitarian and socialist east.
Freedom is not free. It has never been, and it never will be. Western millennials, from Canada and the US, to Australia and Western Europe, have very little sense of how precious freedom is, and from whence it originates. Today’s Venezuelan youth, on the other hand, have a very real and palpable sense of the value of freedom: they have seen freedom and prosperity erode before their very eyes, and they understand that socialism is to blame.
But ultimately, as a Civil War brews on the horizon, it is not military force that will win the war against Communism on its South American beachhead. It is the war of ideas. We know that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” This has been true over the course of modern history, and it is no less true today in Venezuela.
The Maduro regime rules with an iron fist, sustained first and foremost by its lies and hate. They claim that their socialist ideology is not to blame for Venezuela’s fate. The claim that an economic war based in Bogota, Miami, and Madrid is really at fault for Venezuela’s descent into Hell. They claim that their regimen of wage, price, and currency controls are for the benefit of the common people. They claim that only falling oil revenues doomed the Revolution. They claim that they will make Venezuela strong, prosperous, and independent. They claim that they will redistribute Venezuela’s oil wealth equally.
These are all lies, with reams of evidence to refute them.
The hate of Maduro and his cronies for the Venezuelan people is self-evident. While Hugo Chavez’s daughter lives in a luxurious state palace and lives large off of her USD $4.3 billion fortune stolen from the Venezuelan people…while Diosdado Cabello and Tareck El Aissami steal massively from Venezuela’s state revenues to fund terrorism and global Communism and live lavishly…while Nicolas Maduro rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars, using state resources to fund large-scale drug trafficking operations to continue with his strangle-hold on the Venezuelan people…the world is watching. And even the majority of the erstwhile socialist allies of Hugo Chavez have now abandoned the regime.
One day the story will be told. One day the truth will emerge, and Maduro and Cabello and El Aissami will face justice. In the meantime, the Venezuelan opposition, like Vaclav Havel a generation ago, must confront the forces of totalitarianism with truth and love.