Socialism Never Works: Venezuela Edition

Saturday, February 15, AD 2014



It is painful to see a venerable superstition dying a hard death.  I am of course referring to the superstition of socialism.  Since the 19th century socialism has had an iron hold of  the mentalities of many elites, and would be elites, in most nations around the globe.  Wherever it has been tried it has proved damaging to economies and where its attempts have been extreme enough the socialist economies prove to be productive only in producing mass poverty.  The latest example of this is in Venezuela, currently undergoing riots, as Maduro, Chavez’s successor, oversees an economy in free fall and desperate protestors take to the streets at the risk of murderous repression at the hands of Maduro’s thugs.  Richard Fernandez at PJ Media tells us how bad the economy has become in Venezuela:


The suddenness of Venezuela’s collapse should have come as no surprise because downfalls are inherently abrupt. Collapse is a phase change. One moment something is sailing along fat, dumb and happy and the next moment it is sinking beneath the waves. The change from two to one is a loss of 50%; but the change from one to zero is binary.

So it was in Venezuela. Imagine waiting two years to buy a car and finding just when you thought you finally buy one that there are no cars for sale at all.

Leonardo Hernandez had hoped to buy a new car this year, ending nearly two years of waiting on various lists at different dealerships throughout the country.

Those hopes were dashed last week when Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

Think of not being able to buy soap, rice or toilet paper or order a cup of coffee, where even the rich are feeling poor. “In the serene private clubs of Caracas, there is no milk, and the hiss of the cappuccino machine has fallen silent. In the slums, the lights go out every few days, or the water stops running. In the grocery stores, both state-run shops and expensive delicatessens, customers barter information: I saw soap here, that store has rice today. The oil engineers have emigrated to Calgary, the soap opera stars fled to Mexico and Colombia. And in the beauty parlours of this nation obsessed with elaborate grooming, women both rich and poor have cut back to just one blow-dry or manicure each week.”

Imagine there’s no money to keep up the sovereign bond payments, the only source of money to keep power plants going.

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6 Responses to Socialism Never Works: Venezuela Edition

Neville Redux

Wednesday, March 6, AD 2013

Statement From Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on the Death of Hugo Chavez

Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías.  We met Hugo Chávez when he was campaigning for president in 1998 and The Carter Center was invited to observe elections for the first time in Venezuela.  We returned often, for the 2000 elections, and then to facilitate dialogue during the political conflict of 2002-2004.  We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized.  Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.

President Chávez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment.  During his 14-year tenure, Chávez joined other leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to create new forms of integration.  Venezuelan poverty rates were cut in half, and millions received identification documents for the first time allowing them to participate more effectively in their country’s economic and political life.

At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing.  We hope that as Venezuelans mourn the passing of President Chávez and recall his positive legacies — especially the gains made for the poor and vulnerable — the political leaders will move the country forward by building a new consensus that ensures equal opportunities for all Venezuelans to participate in every aspect of national life.

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2 Responses to Neville Redux

  • “At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing”

    damn bitter clingers couldn’t get with the program

  • I recall the Carter Center’s seal of approval on a rather dodgy referendum; that’s when I stopped taking the Carter Center seriously.

    One does wish that, given that Mr. Carter has elected to be a purveyor of humbug, he could be more concise in so doing.

Hugo Chavez Is Still Dead

Tuesday, March 5, AD 2013

The dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, departed this vale of tears today, the 60th anniversary of the death of Joe Stalin.  Chavez effectively destroyed his political opposition and ruled as a tyrant.  Go here to read the 2011 report by Human Rights Watch on Venezuela which explains why I call Chavez a dictator.  Because he mouthed anti-American platitudes, called himself a socialist and cozied up to repressive regimes like Iran and North Korea, he did not lack for defenders in this country:

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15 Responses to Hugo Chavez Is Still Dead

  • Chavez reportedly had amassed a personal fortune worth $1 billion.

    He couldn’t take it with him.

  • Our friend the fellow traveling peanut farmer had some lovely words to say about his dead comrade:

  • The best analogue might be Juan Domingo Peron.

    At the time Chavez was first elected, the historian Mark Falcoff said he was a consequence of two features of Venezuela’s common life: 1. the cupidity of its political class (“scandals start at $50 million) and 2. a misapprehension on the part of people from every social stratum about what makes a country prosperous. He said you travel around Venezuela and you hear it again and again: they think of prosperity as derived from natural resource endowments and not skills and entrepreneurship.

  • After King Juan Carlos told Chavez to shut up that soundbite became the most
    popular ringtone in Spain.

    Thanks for the memories, Hugo.

  • I kind of wonder when he actually died….

  • Hugo Chavez was definitely passionate about social justice, but I don’t think he choose the best road to reach that goal. On the long run, socialism has always been detrimental to the nations it was supposed to help. Also, I don’t understand why Chavez hated America with such intensity. By the way, I noticed that countries whose leaders hate America are most of the times countries where atrocities are commited on a regular basis…

  • Penn is of course not alone, as TWO time Pulitzer prize winner Eugene Robinson expressed what a great guy the former dictator was. For those unfamiliar with what the term useful idiot means, there you go.

    It’s not sufficient to laugh off this buffoonery. People like Robinson, Penn, Moore and others provide an air of legitimacy to these thugs. They don’t just ignore the suffering of the masses under these dictators, they lie and suggest that Chavez made things better. Even Walter Duranty weeps from beyond the grave at their naivety.

  • “What has Chávez bequeathed his fellow Venezuelans? The hard facts are unmistakable: The oil-rich South American country is in shambles. It has one of the world’s highest rates of inflation, largest fiscal deficits, and fastest growing debts. Despite a boom in oil prices, the country’s infrastructure is in disrepair—power outages and rolling blackouts are common—and it is more dependent on crude exports than when Chávez arrived. Venezuela is the only member of OPEC that suffers from shortages of staples such as flour, milk, and sugar. Crime and violence skyrocketed during Chávez’s years. On an average weekend, more people are killed in Caracas than in Baghdad and Kabul combined. (In 2009, there were 19,133 murders in Venezuela, more than four times the number of a decade earlier.) When the grisly statistics failed to improve, the Venezuelan government simply stopped publishing the figures.”

    William J. Dobson, Slate: “How his economically disastrous, politically effective ideology will haunt the country he ruined.”

  • Oh, how I could go on about this knucklehead! Venezuela should be a prosperous country and desirable to live in. Instead, it is a third world dump.

    I have pointed out before that my wife is from Colombia, who is Venezuela’s neighbor to its west. The countries share a long border. Chavez was a supporter of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC, who John F. Kerry (John FARC Kerry) apologized for in 2003), the worst narcoterrorist bunch in the Western Hemisphere. Colombian intelligence found hard evidence of Chavez’ support for the FARC and they captured FARC members on the lam in Venezuela. Chavez gave the FARC aid and comfort on the Venezuelan side of the border.

    Latin American politics is made up of a long history of bad ideologies, bad decisions and bad people who seized power. All too often, some tinpot like Chavez comes along and blames the United States for all of their problems, and this nonsense works. It works with the poor of the nation. it works with the overeducated and stupid Left that exists in every Latin American country. To far too many, Castro is still a demigod.

    Since I despise the Left in the USA, I will not waste time and space commenting about Sean Penn, Michael Moore, etc. These fools never want to move to Havana or Caracas. I wish they would move there.

    Chavez’ cult of personality will die with him. He made many enemies and those enemies will take aim at Chavez’ supporters. Chavez tried to turn Simon Bolivar into a god. Bolivar was an adept military leader, but he was a lousy politician and Latin America – even South America – is far too diverse to ever be ruled as a single nation.

    Venezuelans will be better off without him. The Catholic Church has survived another tinpot caudillo bully. Perhaps now the Archdiocese of Caracas can start up its television station again. Chavez shut it down. Colombia will be better off without him. The Western Hemisphere will be better off without him.

    The Castro brothers’ days are numbered, too and the world will be better off without them as well.

  • Shanna, you should not be taken in by the empty words of caudillos like Chavez. Chavez cared nothing for the poor. He needed poor people to stick with him to stay in power. Chavez wanted to turn Venezuela into another Cuba and he may have succeeded had he lived. We don’t need another Communist outpost in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Thank you PF for the first hand information.

    “Bolivar was an adept military leader, but he was a lousy politician and Latin America – even South America – is far too diverse to ever be ruled as a single nation.”

    True PF. Bolivar had some elements of greatness in him, but when I compare him to George Washington I thank God, that in His mercy he gave us the man from Mount Vernon. Bolivar’s quotation near the end of his life sums up his career:

    “All who have served the Revolution have plowed the sea.”

  • “Hugo Chavez was definitely passionate about social justice”

    as defined by what

  • “Acting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro says Hugo Chavez’s body to be permanently displayed.”

    This reminds me of a joke they used to tell in the old Soviet Union. Two men are going by Lenin’s preserved body in its glass display case. One man whispers to the other, “He is just like us, dead but not buried.”

  • Yeah, right, it will be “permanently displayed” until the Chavistas are ejected from power. It will not happen immediately, but the cult of personality will die as surely as the blabbermouth who just recently assumed “cuarto” temperature.

    Displaying a decaying body in a city near the Equator – almost as brilliant as believing in Karl Marx. Venezuelans will prefer to keep their beer cold.

    The oil money that went to support leftists in Ecuador and Honduras will be cut off. The cut rate oil that supports the Castro “hermanos” will be cut off. The cheap heating oil that Joe Kennedy brags about each winter will be cut off. Not today, not tomorrow, but soon.

    I believe most other Latin Americans (outside of Venezuela) hated Chavez’ guts. Alvaro Uribe was frequently prodded by Chavez, and had Uribe decided to do it, the Colombian Army would have gone marching into downtown Caracas. (You see, the Colombians have US military equipment and training, while Chavez paid top dollar for Russian junk – the same stuff the US chewed up and spit out in the Iraq wars).

    Venezuelans will not want to be stooges for the Castros and Mahmoud Dinnerjacket from Iran much longer. They like Polar Beer and baseball and Sabado Gigante on Univision. Lots of them want to go to Miami – and stay (like countless other Latin Americans – and my wife is Latina, so I can say that).

  • The Cult of Personality is essential to a politics bereft of true charity. True charity recognizes Deus caritas est, and that makes all the difference between a just government and a Utopian dictatorship. Too much of the current President’s popularity is based on mere personality. Moreover, the sycophantic mainstream media’s adulation of him is a creepy approximation of a Cult of Personality. I hope God may have mercy on Mr. Chavez’s soul and lead our foreign and domestic enemies to conversion before it is too late for them and for our country.

Christmas Wishes from Hugo Chavez

Saturday, December 26, AD 2009

Surely every parent has moments when he or she think that the toy obsession at Christmas has got far out of control. Some turn to religion, seeking to “put the Christ back in Christmas”, but that big, cuddly man of the people Hugo Chavez has a better idea:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for an end of Christmas “consumption insanity” and replace presents for children with stories about national independence hero Simon Bolivar, local media reported.

“For the love of God, let’s halt this, let’s put the brakes on this consumerist, capitalist insanity, that leads us to lose our spiritual values,” said Chavez.

Chavez suggested to stop buying toys “that as mothers and fathers we are practically forced” to buy. He also said that there is little sense in buying new clothes each December before Christmas Eve as these sales do not benefit the small merchants, but “their owners, the wealthy, the big distributors that make a bundle squeezing people.”

“Let’s sit with the children and tell them stories of Bolivar, of the motherland,” the Venezuelan President said, adding that he makes this appeal from his heart “to put aside these vices.”

Somehow, I’m not sure that “Bolivar and the motherland are the reason for the season” has quite the same ring to it. But surely Chavez’s heart is in the right place.

Have a happy Boxing Day/St. Steven’s Day/ Second Day of Bolivar!

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4 Responses to Christmas Wishes from Hugo Chavez

  • Most of Latin America, specifically the majority of South Americans refer to Hugo Chavez as “el Payaso”. Which in English translates as “the Clown”.

    It’s interesting the the Euro-Trash at the Copenhagen Climate Conference all stood and gave him a standing ovation to this “Clown”.

    Says a lot about modern liberals doesn’t it?

  • Please, tell me you really are joking when you say Chavez’s heart is in the right place.

    Anything that appears to be a light in the dark heart of Chavez is in deed reminiscent of Paul’s words when he says, even if an angle of light should come to you with another gospel”

    No matter how reasonable he might sound, he’s robbed the Catholic Church of their voice in Venezuela, so he’s using false piety to stir the hearts of others.

  • Yes. I would take a statement that Chavez’s heart is in the right place to be either:

    1) Insane

    2) Ironic

    Since I deny the former, I’ll claim the mantle of the latter.

  • Darwin’s tongue couldn’t have been further in his cheek!

Should Chavez's Threats Against Colombia Be Taken Seriously?

Wednesday, November 18, AD 2009

The Los Angeles Times provides an interview with regional analyst Maruja Tarre, currently based in Caracas, Venezuela on how seriously Hugo Chavez’s saber rattling against Colombia should be taken:

Should Chavez be taken seriously? Yes, says Maruja Tarre, former international relations professor with a degree from Harvard Kennedy School and now a Caracas-based consultant to multinational firms.

With his revolution losing popularity amid rising inflation, rampant crime, a stagnant economy, and frequent water shortages and power outages, Chavez needs a galvanizing event, she says. A border skirmish, if not a full-fledged war, would solidify his support base ahead of next year’s legislative elections and give his Bolivarian Revolution the heroic episode that it lacks.

Tarre was interviewed Tuesday at her home in Caracas.

Verbal assaults by Chavez are nothing new. People usually react by saying it’s all talk. Should his threats be taken any more seriously this time?

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One Response to Should Chavez's Threats Against Colombia Be Taken Seriously?

  • how are we supposed to take this amerikkkanist analysis of the situation seriously when you didn’t even include that little emphasis thingy above the “a” in Comrade Chávez’s name?!?!

Chavez Threatens War With Colombia

Monday, November 16, AD 2009

Tensions are mounting in Central America as Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez masses troops on the border with Columbia and tells his military to “prepare for war”.

The Venezuelan ambassador to Bogota, Gustavo Marquez, said that the seriousness of the situation could not be overstated and that “there is a pre-war situation in the entire region”.

Diplomatic relations between the South American neighbours are frozen and on Saturday President Chavez escalated the war of words with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia by saying there was no chance of dialogue.

While those who are committed Chavez fans, convinced that he wants only what is best for his people and the region, may accept his claim that this escalation is necessary because Columbia has invited the US to set up military bases in their country, which Chavez sees as presaging a US invasion of Venezuela, most will see this as evidence that Chavez is seeking to establish a national enemy in order to distract his people’s attention from the economic problems the Chavez regime has inflicted on them. His ability to use Venezuelan oil revenues to buy support at home and abroad is suffering because his government-run oil companies have failed to invest in infrastructure and thus have experienced declining output over the last several years.

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30 Responses to Chavez Threatens War With Colombia

  • To be accurate, Venezuela and Colombia are in South America, not Central (actually , Central America does not exist as a separate continent – it is a geopolitical designation like the Middle East).

  • Good point.. Politically, I’d tend to think of Venezuela and Columbia as being part of the Central American sphere, but that may be my own hang-up.

  • Colombia is thrice as populous as Venezuela and has a working military, albeit one occupied in counter-insurgency operations rather than conventional war. Col. Chavez has been (per news reports) been cashiering officers on political criteria. One can easily imagine this will end badly for Venezuela if they come to blows.

  • While I have nothing but contempt for Chavez and his corrupt and near-despotic government, I believe it to be a tragic mistake for Colombia to allow the US to build any military facility in their country. The influence of the US is every bit as malignant as that of Chavez and his ilk.

    I can only hope the people of Colombia will knock some sense into the heads of their leaders and tell them to keep the American rattlesnake at arm’s length.

  • Dan,
    The American rattlesnake’s support for Uribe (and Pastrana before) through Plan Colombia has given the Colombian government the chance to defeat the FARC and ELN sufficiently so that many more people there live in peace than was the case 10 years ago. US extradition is the threat whereby Colombia was able to convince the AUC right wing paramilitary to stand down. It seems the snake has mostly bitten the rabid dogs.

  • It’s not the first time Chávez threatens to do something like this. If my memory serves me well, the last time there were rumours that he wouldn’t be obeyed if he ordered the Armed Forces something crazy.

    The problem with this kind of people is that you get used to see them posing as personae and parroting a ludicrous jargon (all that “Bolivarian” and “21st-century socialism” stuff which, by the way, is pure plagiarism from Peron’s “20-century socialism”, to the extent that it’s fair to say that Chávez is a Peronist) and you start taking them less and less seriously, until one day they mean it.

  • If you are not even aware of the location of Venezuela, I’m not sure we can trust your commentary on it.

  • Michael,

    Glad to see you continue to show up whenever you have something particularly deep to say.

    Given that basically all the commentary here comes from the UK Telegraph, I’m not sure what exactly of mine you think should be discounted. Perhaps my suggestion that we all pray that Chavez not allow his militarism to run away with him and lead his country into an unnecessary and unjust war?

    As for my referring to Columbia and Venezuala as being in Central American — it would have been more precise for me to speak of “Latin America” or simply of “South America”. Arguing about whether Columia is in “Central America” is (given that Central America is not actually a continent, but rather a term used for the most southern reaches of North America) rather like arguing whether Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of the “Middle East”. I’m not going to bother with it — but if you think it’s the most interesting thing about Chavez’s brinksmanship, feel free to enlighten us.

    (I considered correcting the wording in the article as soon as it was mentioned, since I realized I’d simply been sloppy in writing it quickly, but I figured since someone had pointed out the issue via a comment it was more honest to leave it as is.)

  • Politically…part of the Central American sphere

    An argument can be made for that, particularly Venezuela with its Carribean influence.

  • In fact, if you look at it from the point of view whether a Venezuelan-Colombian fracas would be more disruptive to neighbors to the north or those to the south, I would venture to say to the north. The closest southern (really, more southeastern) neighbor would be Brazil, and given the relative size and stability, it would be less impacted than say, Panama, to the north. Perhaps Paraguay, Bolivia or Ecuador would feel it more like Panama, but assuming most of it would occur along the Col-Ven border, they would seem more physically removed.

  • As for my referring to Columbia and Venezuala as being in Central American…

    Ah yes, you finally get around to responding to my comment at this point.

    …it would have been more precise for me to speak of “Latin America” or simply of “South America”.

    Yes. Precisely my point.

    Arguing about whether Columia is in “Central America” is (given that Central America is not actually a continent, but rather a term used for the most southern reaches of North America) rather like arguing whether Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of the “Middle East”.

    No, it’s not. It’s quite obvious what “Central America” refers to, especially to folks who actually care about the region and do not simply make reference to it in order to do some pro-Amerikkka posturing.

  • Michael,

    If you are so incredibly concerned about the region, I’m a bit confused as to whether you’ve posted twice about a mistake I made in terminology, but seem to have no particular concern about Columbia potentially being invaded by Chavez for no very good reason.

    Personally, I have a couple friends who live in Columbia, and I certainly wouldn’t want the delusions of the left’s favorite South American strongman to result in their country being invaded. Is that “pro-Amerikka posturing”?

    Maybe if Chavez had spent some time at the School of the Americas or was considered “right wing” you too could bring yourself to care about Columbia?

  • Yeah. I just don’t care about Colombia. I care enough about it to spell it correctly! (And I know it’s not in Central America.)

  • pro-Amerikkka posturing

    Ah yes – thanks for the few seconds of distraction and enertainment. This typically juvenile behavior is more notable than much of rest, however, given the very significant amount of ideological gymnastics one would need to attempt in an engagement with Darwin (or myself, let’s return to issue of Honduras if you wish) concerning the actions of Chavez – especially if one would wish to deride imperialism, militarism, interfering with the affairs of other nations, ect. ect. ect. Or maybe its in some way ok if the person claims to speak for the “oppressed??” Let us know!

    So how about giving it a shot, then, and leaving these sorts of pleas for attention aside?

  • Touche.

    All right, Michael. We know now that you care about Colombia — though apparently not about other countries you don’t know how to spell. (e.g. “Amerikkka”)

    And we know that I incorrectly imagined one could refer to all the countries with coastline on the Caribean Basin as “Central America”.

    Perish the thought, however that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from these important learnings into not wanting Chavez to start a war or anything. That would be madness.

  • Michael, do you ever even listen to yourself?

  • One would hope not.

  • michael we all know you dont listen to yourself. as for this iccedient venizula should just call it off because if they do anything to the U.S base in columbia the united states will send forces to Venizula and the u.s will win. i also think that the people in venuzlia should stop because they already have there 4 guards back. nobody got hurt and if this happens again. the u.s should just leave the base in columbia for good because next time there will be a war for sure.

  • I just don’t care about Colombia. I care enough about it to spell it correctly!

    You care enough to spell it correctly. That sounds about right.

  • At least the real michael makes sense.

  • “Amerikkka” – the calling card of the Maoist.

  • “folks who actually care about the region…”

    Iafrate can read into men’s souls. What a charism. Must be another example of God choosing an idiot to do his work.

  • Actually the definition of Central America has shifted over time. For example, when Panama was part of Colombia it was not considered part of Central America, although it was always a separate, and rebellious, region of that country. Some definitions of Central America include the southern portions of Mexico. The European Union excludes Belize from its definition of Central America.

  • There’s no evidence that Michael “cares” or does anything whatsoever about the Third World poor other than to mention them occasionally as a prop on behalf of whatever lefty cause he’s supporting as to relatively richer North Americans.

  • He could have also said: United $nakes of Amerikkka as an acceptable alternative.

  • if i didnt care. then why would i put a comment on this article. As you can see you are probably someone who lives in venizula and knows if you guys harm the base in coloumbia we will send more then 15000 men over there and beat you guys like on how we did to any toher country who tried thearting us.

  • Darwin – Are you trying to pretend that you’re against war now?

  • I am and always have been against needless and unjust war — and I see no reason to believe that Chavez invading Colombia would be anything other than needless and unjust.

  • There’s also no evidence that Michael is anti-war. The only wars he ever complains about are those in which America was involved. If it’s one of the thugs that he otherwise admires (Chavez), he doesn’t care.

  • Of course I’d be against a Chavez-started war. That goes without saying. The concerns I have raised are unrelated to that.