Spanish – It took Hugo Chávez nine hours and 28 minutes to give an account of his administration in January 2012. He spoke for almost as long as it takes for a non-stop Caracas-Madrid flight. But nobody remembers what he said. Only the phrase “to expropriate is to steal” prevails, which the opposition leader María Corina Machado threw in his face at full speed and with an open microphone from her seat in the National Assembly.
Such an affirmation acquires special relevance today with the threat of the deputy to the Chavista National Assembly, Iris Valera. The politician is committed to “radicalize socialism” and will focus her parliamentary work on confiscating the properties of the Venezuelan diaspora. This is how she intends to convert mansions into “popular clinics.”
Varela already knows how she will do it. She told Últimas Noticias. First, she will issue a decree establishing the measure. Then, she will publish a list of the properties and land she will take over and the identity of their new owners.
Considering that she occupies the seat of the fraudulent second vice president of the Assembly, her path seems unobstructed. But the truth is that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will take notice of her actions. This is the assurance given to PanAm Post by the World Jurist Association (WJA) delegate to the ICC, Tamara Sujú, who is also the executive director of the Casla Institute.
Varela’s intentions have been followed and documented by Sujú. The lawyer affirmed to the PanAm Post that the declarations of the deputy of the Chavista parliament “join the accusation against her” that already exists in the international tribunal as a result of “her induction and complicity in the repression that took place in February 2019, when she armed and drove out the common prisoners.”
In effect, Sujú points out that Varela constitutes a link in the repression that Maduro’s regime is executing because “under her command when she was Minister of Prison Affairs, the imprisonment, torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of political prisoners was recorded throughout the country.”
The newest denunciation expands the file and “serves to demonstrate how systematic repression continues, how emboldened high officials threaten, intimidate, and repress even though they go around the world saying they are respectful of human rights,” says the lawyer. As for a new wave of expropriations, this would represent another theft “as they have done for 20 years because that is how they act, like thugs,” adds Sujú.
The consequences for Varela at the moment that an investigation is started “which will come soon” according to Sujú, will result in “an international arrest warrant” against Varela, nicknamed by Chávez as “the little phosphorus.”
A failed strategy
Reviving the episodes of confiscation will only show the failure of this strategy of the regime, analyzes La Nación. For the media, “time has shown that the nationalizations that Chávez began in the heat of the oil bonanza are one of the main keys to Venezuela’s economic debacle.”
And now, Maduro continues with the work of his predecessor in very different conditions: there is little left to expropriate. Reality shows it. According to the information gathered by La Nación, the statistics of the Observatory of Public Expenditure of the Center for the Dissemination of Economic Knowledge (Cedice) and the Conindustria indicate that in 21 years of “revolution,” socialism expropriated, nationalized, or intervened in more than 5,000 companies and that of these, only 3,000 survive.
“There is no known single economic success among all of them,” the media reports. And it is neither wrong nor exaggerating. Strategy and Business revealed that in 2008, there were a little more than 800,000 companies registered in Venezuela, and in 2017, the number of active companies was reduced to 270,000.
Repression with bankruptcy
Valera’s role was decisive during the period that Sujú describes as one of greater repression. The National Council of Commerce (Consecomercio) reported at that time that 1,200 businesses were losing their ability to reopen due to the level of destruction of their businesses.
“Without a doubt, this is significant damage to the national economy. Venezuela is today a cemetery of companies, including those expropriated in the oil sector, such as Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, which have won over the State in the courts,” commented exiled Congressman José Guerra to La Nación.
“Venezuela is the worst example in the world,” points out Francisco Martínez, former president of the employers association Fedecámaras. For him, the problem is not so much the expropriation itself, but the whole path that leads to the closing of the companies. “When they unduly appropriate private property, they end up destroying private property, pulverizing the companies, and devastating the country,” he indicates in La Nación.
For Martínez, this provision constitutes an “irresponsible management” that goes beyond promoting a legal framework that prevents attracting investment and raises a legal fence against companies that cannot expropriate. They impose a “straitjacket” on the companies that prevents them from operating.
The corpses of expropriation
When Hugo Chávez took office, Venezuela had 12,700 private industries. Of that amount, only a third of the industrial park remains, says Conindustria.
As La Nación points out, “if there is anything left in Venezuela, it is the corpses of this policy, starting with Agroisleña, whose intervention and reconversion in Agropatria deeply pierced food production.” Today, only shadows remain of the former Banco Agrícola de Venezuela, valued at 450 Million Dollars and whose owners were never compensated.
Another example is Hacienda Bolivar, which supplied part of the meat market with its livestock. Its bankruptcy is in sight, like Kelloggs, Aceites Diana, almost all the sugar mills, Lácteos Los Andes, 60% of the country’s banks, Conferrys for maritime transport, and more.
The panorama of the industrial base is desolate. Only 30% of the country’s installed capacity operates, but its reach is less than 60%. “These are very precarious levels because expropriation is the worst route,” says La Nación. But Iris Valera wants to go that route, revoking the nationality of those who oppose it.