If you throw a frog into boiling water, it will jump out and survive with mild burns. But if you cook it by slowly raising the temperature, it won’t notice at first and will end up being boiled alive. That is a common proverb in Venezuela that describes how socialism has gradually consumed the nation.
At a Webinar coordinated by the Atlas Network, businessman and PanAm Post publisher Luis H. Ball, explained that it all began nearly 50 years ago when “democratic socialism” began to be applied by Venezuela’s elected rulers.
In 1965 Venezuelan exports represented 60% of international trade in oil. Toal oil exports were larger than Saudi Arabia’s. The nation had the lowest inflation in the world for 100 years.
There had been a constant 5% annual growth per year, and 67% of the nation was middle class, measured to European standards.
During the 1970s, Venezuela’s per capita income was higher than the sum of all other Andean nations, including Chile. The country had the lowest taxes in the region, coupled with a stable democracy.
Since the US left the gold standard, only the Swiss franc and the Venezuelan bolivar managed to maintain their value. In 1980 the Venezuelan bolivar was worth more against the U.S. dollar than in 1880.
It remained that way until the 1973 elections when both the legislative and executive branches came under the power of a single democratic socialist party, Acción Democrática, while simultaneously the Arab oil embargo that year produced a huge increase in oil prices. as a result government revenues increased by a factor of 4.
The government than embarked in “democratic socialism”, systematically applying the same theories supported now in the USA by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Enormous new government programs were created. The number of central government employees trebled in four years, private oil companies, the steel, aluminum and mining industries were nationalized. Foreign investment was curtailed in agriculture, banking an telecommunications.
The same applied to the Central Bank, which until then as independent and listed in the stock market. It was nationalized in 1975.
Then came price controls. Even the price of movie tickets and car wash operations were subject the controls.
Under the administration of Carlos Andres Perez, democratic socialism took hold of Venezuela and there were even attempts to create “a new type of businessman” through an extensive program of subsidized loans to new small industries.
Just like Marxism announced the rise of a new man who would enable socialism, by forsaking his individual desires to be replaced by collective desires, democratic socialism created a businessman dependent on the state.
This involved a Leninist playing the famous Leninist idea from the Soviet “New Economic Program”, in which the government seizes the “commanding heights” of the economy but allows private property to exist.
Ironically as Government revenue exploded upwards with the increase in the price of oil, and bureaucracy increased exponentially, per capita income began to fall dramatically. As the size of Government increased, the private sector shrank in the same proportion.
Under the influence of Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, the Venezuelan oil minister during the 1960s, who is considered the founder of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Venezuela began to deliberately reduce its oil production, purposefully giving up market share to Arab nations.
Perez Alfonso called oil “the devil’s excrement.”
By the early 1980s, daily oil production fell to 1.2 million barrels, down from 3.5 million in 1973 as a result of faithfully applying Perez Alfonzo’s theories despite holding the world’s largest oil reserves.
When it dawned on Venezuela’s leaders the stupidity of this policy, It would take twenty years to reach a production of 2.0 million barrels in 2000.
As the private sector shrank, so did employment. The nationalization of the Central bank resulted in the destruction of the currency’s value, inflation reared its ugly head.
By 1998 Venezuela was in a deep. Its old prosperity was long gone. The governing “democratic socialist” parties were completely discredited. People demanded change.
Hugo Chavez was trained by Cuba
Hugo Chavez himself publicly admitted having been recruited as a communist operative by Alfredo Maneiro, founder of the Causa Radical party, a guerrilla group operating illegally in the country during the 1970s.
Ch[avez was in reality a Cuban mole within the Venezuelan army for over twenty years.
Chavez gained power gradually, in 3 stages
Chavez took advantage of the discontent and won the only election he ever won fairly in 1998.
As Chavez did not gain power by force, he has to tread carefully, and thus initially he did not move towards socialism in the economy. He set out to gain total control of the country in three stages.
Stage 1 involved state power: he managed changed the Constitution to gain control of the judiciary and open the door to reelection, until then not allowed by the old constitution.
In Stage 2 He built international alliances by suing the oil income to get friendly leftist elected in neighboring countries. Thanks to the incredible luck of the price of oil going from $7/barrel to $140/barrel under his watch, he was able to make himself important in the world stage, giving Russia billions in weapons contracts and becoming China’s largest customer in South America.
“Petrodiplomacy” was born in this era. He funded extreme leftist parties in, Latin America, Spain and other parts of the world
Stage 3 involved the economy: in the beginning he didn’t nationalize or confiscate private property; his initial approach was cautious. This granted him support in the private sector. Eventually, he began to nationalize and confiscate earnestly from 2008 onwards.
President Lopez Obrador is a carbon copy, Mexicans beware
Mexicans should take notice, asLopez Obrador is copying Chavez to the letter, including posing as an economic conservative in the early stages.
7.4 million hectares were expropriated by the government.
Active army officers became judges, which is unconstitutional.
Labor unions were put under state control, leaders who opposed these measures were imprisoned.
It wasn’t until 2007, eight years after initially seizing power, that Hugo Chavez openly referred to himself as Communist, before that he professed to be a “humanist”.
Venezuelans are defenseless
Unlike the US Constitution, which has a Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms and form a militia if the government exceeds its powers, in 2008, Hugo Chavez made sure that there would never be an uprising and stripped Venezuelans citizens of their weapons, even in their homes, through legislation approved in 2007.
Maduro has continued these policies with disastrous results.
By 2018 the economy has shrunk by 60%. Currently, milk consumption has fallen 80%, and chicken consumption by 75%.
20,000 Cubans are preventing an uprising by the Venezuelan military
The army’s support of Maduro is no longer guaranteed. They would probably like to take Maduro out.
Nevertheless, 20,000 Cubans loyal the regime are in charge of State security and present in army installations are a threat to any service member who plans rebellion and their families.
Havana fears that if Maduro falls those 20,000 Cubans Cubans could be massacred, given the population’s anger at the regime.
Yet, Cuba does not have the logistics to remove its personnel and deliver them home safely. Thus, a major obstacle for the removal of Maduro is a solution to the Cuban presence.
Juan Guaido is the Constitutional president
Juan Guaidó is not “self-proclaimed”. The Venezuelan constitution mandates that the President of the National Assembly become president, whether he likes it or not, if the presidency is vacant. As Maduro’s term expired on January 10th, and no legitimate elections had been held, the presidency was vacant. He automatically became interim president, regardless of any “proclamation”.
Maduro’s election was a fraud
In order to win the sham presidential election of 2018, in which 80% of Venezuelans refused to vote, Maduro made it illegal for the authentic opposition parties to participate, and its main leaders were imprisoned. His only opposition was a former minister of Chavez.
His “elections” were not recognized – at that time – by Most Latin America, the European Union and the United States.
So, on January 10, the US recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president, a man who four years prior literally took a bullet in his back for confronting the government.
We are lucky that Obama is no longer president
The Obama administration, in conjunction with Tom Shannon, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, approached the Venezuela situation by staging endless discussions and dialogues with Maduro, who they thought would become softer if the US made concessions to Cuba.
The Trump administration understands that the Maduro regime is a band of thugs. They know that talking only buys them more time.
The Venezuelan refugee crisis is reaching Syrian proportions
So far, 15% of the population has left. 4 million Venezuelans are exiles, of which 1 million are refugees in Colombia.
Percentage-wise, there are more Venezuelan exiles than Cubans.
According to the Brookings Institute, 4 million more may leave this year, which would be equal to or worse than the worst African migratory crisis, and worse than the unfolding situation in Syria.
This situation is unique in the Americas and could become one of the worst human catastrophes in history, if Maduro remains in power.
Socialism becomes normalized through culture
Yet, if you read The New York Times in 2008, Hugo Chavez was heralded as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, due to his funding for social programs.These social programs were Potemkin Villages, designed to fool those not doing their research properly.
Just like what is happening in the United States today, universities became socialist terrain 40 years ago in Venezuela.
From there, these ideas became popular politically.
Libertarian pundits are clueless to compare Venezuela with the Middle East
Nowadays, the Trump administration is providing incredible support to the Venezuelan opposition.
Some libertarian pundits are discouraging the US from intervening, by equating the situation to Iran or Iraq, they are demonstrating total ignorance of South America and Venezuela in particular.
Venezuelan is the most pro-American country in the world, and has no connection with whatever actions took in Central America a century ago. Caracas was second only to London in the number of American expats in residence for over thirty years.
In 1997, Bill Clinton visited the Americas and the only city where his security team allowed him to walk freely was Caracas. He was mobbed by adoring crowds.
There is no need to invade, just provide a show force
There is no need for an invasion, amere show of force, would probably provide the push the army needs to get rid of the Cuban handlers in the army barracks.
People who know nothing about the region should not opine.
Maduro is gone, he will not last a year.
Maduro is a Cuban prisoner in the palace, he has no freedom of movement.
He no longer has control.