Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Venezuela is a socialist utopia?

From The Christian Science Monitor

“The "hot corner" stands in the center of Caracas, in Plaza Bolívar. It's a makeshift booth papered with fliers that marks itself as the "launching point to the revolution." There militants rail against imperialism and greedy Yankees all day.”

“Until recently, they didn't have anywhere to go. Socialism was in retreat, "revolutions" scarce. Then along came Mr. Chávez and his gambit to forge a "21st century socialism." Suddenly, Caracas is the new leftwing petri dish. "This is the most interesting social experiment in the world taking place today," says Fred Fuentes, an Australian who moved to Caracas last July, as he sips from a mug with the government motto "Rumbo al Socialismo" (On the way to Socialism). "Venezuela is the key place to be observing."’

Comment: In the spring of last year university students started to turn on the Chavez regime with protests against the government decision to deny a popular television station its license. The TV station never got its license back but it spurned the students to turn up the heat on the regime with six months of demonstrations. Of course, the demonstrations didn’t stop Chavez from trying to mangle the country’s constitution by introducing a referendum later in the year. The constitutional re-write would have given Chavez dictatorial powers.

And then there’s the latest escapade regarding Chavez and the Colombian terrorist group FARC. It turns out that Chavez has been funding the terrorist organization and giving it additional support by allowing the group a safe haven in Venezuela. Several weeks ago, when Colombian forces bombed a FARC camp a mile inside Ecuador, Chavez quickly reacted as if the incident had happened in his own territory: He reacted before the Ecuadorians did. Chavez sent troops to the border and rattled his saber. It was all obviously an attempt to distract the Venezuelan population from the mounting issues in their country.

Inflation in Venezuela (2007) is roughly at 22.5%, the highest in Latin America, and far higher than the 17% mark the year before, despite state-imposed price controls. And due to the price controls, there is now food shortage. Such items as milk, eggs, rice, and beef are scarce and are to be found, in some cases, only on the black market. Crime in Caracas is at an all time high and garbage collection goes unattended.

Yet, despite all of these issues, there are plenty of radical romantics from the far left that will overlook these stark problems. Even if the situation starts to become ripe for civil unrest and suffering, these leftist radicals will continue to believe that redistribution equals justice and equality. The sclerosis that socialism has started to inflict on Venezuelan society is palpable. One hopes that Venezuelans rise up against the repressiveness of Chavez socialism and create a free private enterprise exchange economy: A system that they have never, in their history, enjoyed. And on that day, the leftists and their terrible ideas will go home forever.

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