Venezuela Ran out of Other People’s Money

MoneyVenezuelans rejected socialism. They’ve run out of other people’s money; the long lines to buy basic food and toilet paper did not help either. The main stream media has glossed over this massive defeat of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialism. In a great St. Nick gift, his opposition took back control of the National Assembly in a landslide election on December 6, 2015.
According to the National Electoral Council, the Democratic Unity coalition won 99 of the 167 seats in the National Assembly, a legislative majority, while the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela won 46 seats. If the opposition wins 13 of the 22 remaining races, it will gain a two-thirds supermajority, possibly running a referendum to get rid of Maduro before his term expires in 2019. A simple majority could amnesty all political prisoners.
Of the 19 million registered voters, 74 percent showed up to cast their ballots, a huge turnout, a sign that people have grown weary and tired of sixteen years of Hugo Chavez’s style socialism that brought Venezuela to the brink of destruction.
USA Today quoted Minerva Lopez, a seamstress from Caracas, who said, “What a relief. The nightmare is ending.” But is it? The opposition has a hard road ahead to undo sixteen years of economically destructive policies.
The opposition leader is Henrique Capriles, the governor of the state of Miranda. After Hugo Chavez died, a special presidential election was held in April 2013 when Capriles lost to Maduro, a successor picked and approved by Chavez. Maduro is a former bus driver. In socialism credentials and expertise are not necessary to run a country; one needs to be faithful to the socialist party line even though it may drag the country into economic abyss.
Capriles promised to rein in the political corruption. Because “The government has used state funds to finance their campaigns,” he promised to make changes “legally, constitutionally, and peacefully.”
Even though Venezuela has one of the largest oil reserves, the mismanagement of the socialist economy and of the monetary policy has translated into an inflation rate of 150 percent. As crude prices have dropped around the world, Venezuelan oil revenues have declined considerably, causing a sizable contraction of the economy.
Maduro had supported Hugo Chavez’s legacy of “Chavismo,” an anti-capitalist system centered on keeping the poor pacified with more welfare, promises of higher pensions, scholarships, and public housing, Chavez and his ruling elites amassed billions in ill-gotten wealth. Chavez stayed in power by bringing in free sub-standard health care from Cuba for the poor and by making promises of perennial dependency on the socialist government. And that is not all that Chavez brought from Cuba. “Venezuela has promised 100,000 barrels of oil per day to Cuba, and in exchange Cuban intelligence runs the Venezuelan state security apparatus.”
Once the money dwindled due to reduced oil revenues, the generous handouts soured and the economy tanked.
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez warned, “The world needs to know that the abuses of Venezuela’s government have put us on a path toward economic collapse and social devastation, with implications that will spread beyond our borders.”

Standing in huge lines for hours to buy food and rationing by fingerprint were just some of the indignities the citizens of socialist Venezuela had to endure.

“Patricia Gamboa arrived at a government-run supermarket in western Venezuela at 2:00 am, six hours before doors opened, to be first in line and buy whatever she could get her hands on. As dawn broke, about 200 people stood behind her outside the Bicentenario shop in San Cristobal, with numbers written on their wrists with green markers to avoid arguments over who came first.”

The Chicago Tribune wrote on April 11, 2014, “Crisis in Venezuela: Too much crime, not enough toilet paper.” People could not find enough milk, cooking oil, sugar, flour, coffee, cornmeal, and toilet paper. Hoarding became a crime in Venezuela and people received an electronic identification card with their fingerprints. These cards alerted the authorities when people tried to buy more than they were allowed by government decree.

The socialist government blamed their inadequacy on the greedy capitalists who allegedly drove up prices. Farmers and store owners blamed the socialist government price controls that forced them to sell below cost.

Chavez was worshipped by the poor because he spent billions from the huge oil revenues (when prices of crude were high) on government subsidies, controlled food and gas prices, and nationalized farms and small businesses that “supposedly were not keeping up with production. He even awarded a free government-built home to his 3 millionth follower on Twitter.”

I understand the indignity of socialist mismanagement of the economy well. Centralized planning forced us to stand in food lines all the time to survive in Ceausescu’s Romania. This uneducated cobbler with grandiose aspirations imposed on his people a socialist/communist nightmare that lasted 44 years before people finally said “enough.”

A centralized socialist government always blamed their disastrous and ever-failing economic policies on greedy capitalists and on business “profiteers.” Socialists eventually ran out of other people’s money and wealth. They silenced in the process any opposition and critics if they dared speak out against the collectivist philosophy, the elites like Chavez, and the “useful idiots” who understood just enough to be dangerous.

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