“A big oil producer unable to pay its bills during a protracted oil-price boom is a rare beast,” began a feature piece in the Economist on September 20, 2014, amid worries that Venezuela may enter a default. This article, however, won’t dwell on Venezuela’s economic outlook, but rather on the rare beast’s critical situation due to a perverse and utterly failed system.
The problem with stories told from only one perspective is not that they’re false, but rather that they lack the other side. One can only be amazed by articles, such as the recent one in CounterPunch, that call for solidarity with the Venezuelan government, while they portray those in power as crusaders for equality. Even more amazing is their ridiculous anti-imperialist babble.
People opining on Venezuela’s crisis from abroad, who show sympathy for the ruling party, appear to know little of the misappropriation of public funds during the 15 years of oil-price bonanza. And as the biblical parable goes, if you’re reckless when handling the seven good cows, harsh times await you when the seven thin ones come.
Those who rally behind the corrupt Chavista government do not know the humiliation Venezuelans are forced to undergo for the most common tasks: acquiring food, medicine, and basic services such as water and electricity. The rare beast arbitrarily imposed a political system at the expense of everybody else’s quality of life.
From a statistical point of view, Venezuela is now a failure on every possible indicator of economic performance. In 2014, even the official inflation rate skyrocketed to approximately 69 percent, and food shortages have become widespread.
Instead of addressing the issue, Maduro and his officials insist that this is all the fault of an “economic war” waged by the opposition — who are not setting the policies — and in the face of their price controls, appropriated and nationalized firms, and over-regulated distribution channels.
Despite the central bank’s massive money-supply increase and squandered Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund, the government claims a “radical minority” is to blame. The truth is that the unsuccessful Bolivarian Revolution of the past 15 has been trying to find scapegoats instead of solutions to problems.
Having said that, I find it hard to believe that people who have probably never set foot in Venezuela assert that the international community should support her government. It’s outrageous that people around the world are so deluded they think the Chavista regime works for the common good: when gasoline subsidies cost the country 9 percent of GDP, and education expenditure only 7 percent; when there is shortage of food because funds have been diverted to political propaganda; when contracts at home with suppliers are neglected to pay Wall Street bondholders; when Venezuelans are told the government will help end malnutrition in Qatar, while constituents at home can’t find food for themselves.
The Maduro administration decided to turn their backs on the country’s problems to preserve authority — their lust for power and wealth knows no limits — and finance their crony friends abroad, which so far they have achieved. However, the rare beasts lack good judgement and did not foresee the fall in oil prices. The party is over and the guests are starting to leave.
Who will stay with Venezuela as it tumbles into the abyss?
Personal investigation and experience is the best way to judge whether something is true or not. After they’ve heard both sides, those who justify the government’s actions from abroad would do well to submit themselves to the same nightmare Venezuelans go through nowadays. A visit to the supermarket, the hospital, or drugstore would be enough to understand the magnitude of the problem and identify the real culprit. A glance at the local “press,” central bank’s statistics, and official statements will make them understand the need to denounce the farce in Venezuela.
See and judge for yourself; then write your own story.
Translated by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.