On Tuesday, President Trump warned Venezuela’s dictator Nicolas Maduro that there would be consequences for the continued violation of law by the socialist dictatorship. On Tuesday, Maduro dragged opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma off to prison; on Sunday, the dictatorship killed some ten people during election riots. The Trump administration stated that the United States condemned the “Maduro dictatorship,” adding, “The United States holds Maduro – who publicly announced just hours earlier that he would move against his political opposition – personally responsible for the health and safety of Mr. Lopez, Mr. Ledezma and any others seized.”
The latest controversy in Venezuela arises thanks to Maduro’s brutish attempt to overthrow the legitimate legislature of the country in favor of a constituent assembly that would essentially allow Maduro to redraw the constitution. Maduro is, of course, the successor to thug dictator Hugo Chavez, who seized power in January 1999 through election, and then proceeded to nationalize foreign oil projects, socialize virtually every other industry, institute price and wage controls, ratchet up tariffs, and entirely destroy the economy of one of the most natural-resources-blessed countries on the planet. Chavez took office with promises to end income inequality in the country. Instead, his brutish regime exacerbated poverty to the point of crisis – but at least they minimized income inequality! Just for good measure, Chavez also essentially destroyed the free press and made employment in key industries contingent on loyalty to his regime.
The consequences: no bread, no sugar, no toilet paper, ordinary citizens hunting dogs in the streets and waiting in line outside bakers not for bread, but for the ability to comb through the garbage for crumbs. Hyperinflation has set in: according to CNBC, “On Friday, $1 equaled 10,389 bolivars. Earlier this week, on Monday, it was worth 8,820 bolivars. At the start of this year, $1 equaled 3,164 bolivars, according to the unofficial exchange rate calculated by dolartoday.com, which millions of Venezuelans use.” Venezuelan hospitals lack gloves, soap, water, paper. Electrical blackouts aren’t infrequent. Caracas has become the most violent city in the Western hemisphere. According to Hannah Dreier of Associated Press:
The government of President Nicolas Maduro blames the U.S. and right-wing business interests for the economic collapse, but most economists say it actually stems from government-imposed price and currency distortions. There often seemed to be a direct line between economic policy and daily hardship. One week, the administration declared that eggs would now be sold for no more than 30 cents a carton. The next week, eggs had disappeared from supermarkets, and still have not come back…. People started digging through the trash at all hours, pulling out vegetable peelings and soggy pizza crusts and eating them on the spot. That seemed like rock bottom. Until my local bakery started organizing lines each morning, not to buy bread but to eat trash.
It’s worth noting that the American Left praised both Chavez and Maduro for decades as halcyons of humanitarian redistributionism. As I noted at Breitbart at the time, when Chavez died in 2013, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) called him “a leader that understood the needs to the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless.” Former President Jimmy Carter praised Chavez’s “commitment to improving the lives of his fellow countrymen,” adding that he would “be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communications skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment.” Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post called Chavez “quick” and “popular.” Larry King called him “huggable.” The Associated Press called him a “fighter.” The Atlantic stated, “Passionate and charismatic, Chávez slipped comfortably into the role of romantic Latin American revolutionary, championing the poor against an unfeeling local oligarchy and its imperial paymasters….Today millions of Venezuelans will weep tears of genuine anguish at his passing.” ABC News and Univision said he was “revered by Venezuela’s poor, who considered him one of their own.”And The New York Times sounded off, of course, calling him a “dreamer with a common touch and enormous ambition” who “maintained an almost visceral connection with the poor.”
During his tenure, Chavez received praise from Oliver Stone and Noam Chomsky, from Danny Glover and Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who said, “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have had success in bringing health and education to the people in the poor neighborhoods of Caracas, to those who previously saw few benefits of the countries oil wealth…. It is not only important to have sustainable growth, but to ensure the best distribution of economic growth, for the benefit of all citizens.”
The Left owns Venezuela. But they’ll simply say that socialism has never been properly tried. Again. Which, undoubtedly, will contribute to the suffering of millions of other people the next time it’s tried.