Considering a trip to the socialist asylum of Lieutenant Colonel Lunatic, aka Hugo Chávez? Just make sure you’re topped up on economic Kool-Aid.
Now led by President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela is rotting. The statistics speak volumes. Inflation in Venezuela is around 65 percent — perhaps higher. According to an in-country NGO, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, the 2014 murder rate was the second-highest globally, war zones included. Venezuelans now struggle to access the most basic necessities. Suffering from chronic shortages of coffee, toilet paper, and just about every good Venezuela imports (most goods are imported, thanks to Chávez’s idiocy), citizens must line up for hours to scrounge whatever they can. They struggle for sustenance and also basic survival. As Juan Forero reports at the Wall Street Journal, Venezuela’s health-care system now requires patients to scavenge replacement heart valves.
But Maduro isn’t worried. His power insulates him from the icy waters of socialism. And he’s happy to blame the United States for his country’s ills. In recent days, Maduro has been threatening with military exercises and fiery rhetoric. And while the most vulnerable are left to rot, the Chávezville elite live in splendor.
George Orwell reminds us why: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
Still, some — many Western liberals included — believe that Venezuela’s suffering, while regrettable, is not an indictment of the regime. Instead, they celebrate Chávez’s success in reducing poverty, claiming that this vindicates his economic policies. This overlooks that Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves of any nation and that Venezuela’s natural beauty could lead to a huge increase in tourism..
The problem is that Chávez, Maduro, and company have only ever wanted personal power. They see themselves as reincarnations of Simón Bolívar. But where Bolívar opposed the tyranny of the Spanish empire, Maduro opposes the “tyranny” of free enterprise. The Chávistas have always been crackpots, but, until recently, high oil prices enabled them to paper over their failings. No longer. Plummeting oil prices have eviscerated government budgets.
In response, Maduro is doubling down on insanity. Contemplate the comrade’s magnificent crisis plan: Rather than accepting that shortages in goods are caused by his price controls and collapsed currency, Maduro blames hoarders and foreign conspirators (a favorite regime scapegoat), while he restricts shopping days. Rather than recognizing that his neglect means that medical professionals can’t replace their tools, Maduro blames greed. Rather than admitting that Mad Max criminality contributes to police corruption and low morale, Maduro rants about the ills of “individualism” and “consumerism.” Rather than tolerating scrutiny, Maduro attacks freedom of the press. Rather than pursuing dialogue with the political opponents, Maduro imprisons them and cuddles North Korea.
As I say, Chávezville is an asylum.
What’s most tragic about this lunacy is that it’s slamming the door on so many opportunities. As with France, Greece, and Scotland, socialism has wreaked havoc upon an entire nation. And with Maduro as dictator, Venezuela’s future is sinking fast.