By Daniel Di Martino:
On Friday, substitute co-host of “The View,” Ana Navarro, made the absurd claim while talking with guest U.S. Senator Rand Paul that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro “is not a socialist; he’s a corrupt, murderous thug who is starving his people.” She furthermore went on to say that Venezuela’s economic system “is not socialism.”
Despite Navarro’s ridiculous assertion, socialism is, in fact, the economic system that destroyed my country of Venezuela. She is right that Maduro is a murderous thug, but he is also a self-declared socialist whose socialist policies led to famine and a refugee crisis.
Maduro kills protestors, rigs elections, and jails dissidents, all murderous thuggish behavior, but the reason he has had to crush our opposition lies in the socialist policies that he implemented together with his now-deceased predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Socialism, in a nutshell, is a system in which the means of production are socially controlled. In practice, this means that businesses are owned and controlled by the government. Therefore, there’s no pure socialist or pure capitalist or free-market country, but rather nations with different degrees of socialism and capitalism. As numerous freedom rankings have shown, Venezuela is the closest you’ll get to complete government control outside of North Korea.
Maduro and Chavez nationalized thousands of businesses in their more than 20 years in power, from large agribusiness that provided my food to small libraries like one owned by my best friend’s family. The nationalization of the “Los Andes” milk processing company is one of the most well-known examples of socialist destruction in Venezuela. In “democratic” socialism, profits don’t matter, only votes do, so the government lowered the prices and hired more workers.
As expected, between 2010 and 2015, after Los Andes was taken over from its rightful owner, production decreased by more than half —despite doubling the number of workers because nobody stood to benefit from running the business efficiently. Like Los Andes, thousands of businesses in agriculture, banking, education, health care, energy, and every other sector were taken over and decimated by the lack of profit incentives.
Today, fields that once produced sugar cane have empty and dry greenhouses. Ironically, they stand next to a large and worn-out highway sign that reads “Made in Socialism” in Spanish.
Nationalizations, combined with price limits on most products and currency controls that restricted imports, forced grocery stores to ration the little food that was produced. This meant that I had to stand in lines for hours just to buy things like toilet paper, medicines, and milk, and also illegally purchase expensive contraband goods in the black market.
The Venezuelan regime also implemented many other socialist policies, such as rapidly increasing the minimum wage, hiring hundreds of thousands of new government workers and expanding welfare programs in a fiscally unsustainable way.
Maduro is a murderous thug, not because he wants to be, but because he must to stay in power. Evil leaders alone are not enough to cause a crisis like Venezuela’s. There are many non-socialist murderous thugs in power around the world: Saudi Arabia and Russia are both led by people who commit terrible human rights violations, but neither is experiencing a massive refugee crisis, hyperinflation, nor famine. This is because, despite the terrible actions of Putin and the Saudi royal family, they haven’t implemented Maduro’s or Chavez’s socialist policies.
But I am afraid that nothing will ever be enough for Ana Navarro to call things by their name. Instead, she used the tried-and-failed “that’s not real socialism” excuse. Probably, she avoids the word so she doesn’t have to acknowledge the failure of the policies that 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders support under the so-called Green New Deal. This supposedly environmental policy wishlist includes policies such as having the federal government hire millions of Americans, controlling rents, an unprecedented expansion of welfare programs, raising the minimum wage, and nationalizing the healthcare industry and likely the energy industry to meet emissions goals. All of these policies are right out of the Chavez and Maduro playbook.
Navarro’s attempt to deflect the blame for Venezuela’s crisis away from socialism is yet another desperate attempt by the media at protecting 2020 Democratic candidates who support the same policies that led to devastation in my homeland. Navarro and the media must understand that “The problem with Venezuela, is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented,” as President Trump said in his 2017 address to the United Nations. Let’s never let the media or radical Democrats deceive well-meaning Americans into voting for the same policies that destroyed my country.