Venezuela has the biggest oil reserves in the world. More oil than the Middle East. They are not a million mile away from the USA that uses huge amounts of oil. They can easily supply North America, Central America and South America. They should be living like Kangz. And yet somehow they are not. The corrupt middle Eastern despots have £200 million superyachts, and their populations still have higher living standards. Even in some cases suffering high obesity levels as they literally get fat living off the oil trade. But not in Venezuela. Oh no. Venezuela chose the path of socialism. So how did it get to this point?
Hugo Chavez won the 1998 Presidential election running on a revolutionary manifesto and gaining support from the poor, working classes and metropolitan middles classes (sound familiar?). He won on 56% with a voter turnout of 63%. That’s far less than the Brexit vote, by the way. So how did he get elected? The electoral processes surrounding Venezuela’s democracy under Chávez were often observed controversially. Given the protests and strikes, some of which were quite big like in 10 December 2001 (then the largest in the history of Venezuela) some confidential cables published on Wikileaks tried to explain the discrepancy between Chávez’s relatively low popularity and his overwhelming electoral victory.
— Jonathon Davies (@JonD99) May 9, 2018
According to the cables, Hugo Chávez used “practically unlimited state resources” for propaganda activities, and high oil prices facilitated his success. The opposition, on the contrary, was divided into different parties, which ran for the same office, and the limited financial resources were badly invested. During his re-election campaigns, Chávez handed out huge amounts of money in exchange for votes (free stuff!). He reportedly mobilized the lower class Venezuelan voters who had historically abstained from elections for years, providing both undocumented Venezuelans and foreigners with identity cards (sound familiar?). 200,000 foreigners were naturalized before August 2004 and around 3,000–4,000 foreigners per year that might have been naturalized thereafter. Most of them purportedly voted for him. As you know socialists love immigration. Now you know why.
Under Chávez’s administration, crimes were so prevalent that by 2007 the government no longer produced crime data. Homicide rates in Venezuela more than tripled, with one NGO finding the rate to have nearly quadrupled. The majority of the deaths occur in crowded slums in Caracas. The NGO found that the number of homicides in the country increased from 6,000 in 1999 to 24,763 in 2013. In 2010 Caracas had the highest murder rate in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2012 there were 13,080 murders in Venezuela. It was almost as bad as London.
In leaked government INE data for kidnappings in the year 2009, the number of kidnappings were at an estimated 16,917, contrasting the CICPCs number of only 673, before the Venezuelan government blocked the data. According to the leaked INE report only 1,332 investigations for kidnappings were opened or about 7% of the total kidnapping cases, with 90% of the kidnappings happening away from rural areas, 80% of all being express kidnappings and the most common victim being lower-middle or middle class Venezuelans and middle-aged men. Also in 2009, it was reported that Venezuelan authorities would assign judicial police to Caracas area morgues to speak with families. At that time, they would advise families not to report the murder of their family member to the media in exchange for expediting the process of releasing the victim’s body.
Let’s show him the pictures of Venezuela and their food lines but I’m sure he’ll still explain that tragedy away. pic.twitter.com/iMkKzIfIQW
— TexasR2 (@TXBluesR2) March 9, 2018
Chávez also expropriated and redistributed 5 million acres of farmland from large landowners. Socialists love to try this. It never works. See: Zimbabwe. And coming soon: South Africa. What does stealing property and a few deaths matter when you’re being progressive? End justifies the means, right? Population starving? Who cares when you are being ideologically pure.
Aiding Terrorists (Sound familiar?)
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), “Chavez’s government funded FARC‘s office in Caracas and gave it access to Venezuela’s intelligence services” and said that during the 2002 coup attempt that “FARC also responded to requests from [Venezuela’s intelligence service] to provide training in urban terrorism involving targeted killings and the use of explosives”. The IISS continued saying that “the archive offers tantalizing but ultimately unproven suggestions that FARC may have undertaken assassinations of Chavez’s political opponents on behalf of the Venezuelan state”. Venezuelan diplomats denounced the IISS’ findings saying that they had “basic inaccuracies”.
In 2007, authorities in Colombia claimed that through laptops they had seized on a raid against Raúl Reyes, they found in documents that Hugo Chávez offered payments of as much as $300 million to the FARC “among other financial and political ties that date back years” along with other documents showing “high-level meetings have been held between rebels and Ecuadorean officials” and some documents claiming that FARC had “bought and sold uranium.” Wonderful. Progressive.
Antisemitism (Haven’t we seen this elsewhere?)
Chavez’s opposition to Zionism and close relations with Iran led to accusations of anti-Semitism. Such claims were made by the Venezuelan Jewish community at a World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in Jerusalem. Claims of antisemitism were prompted by various remarks Chávez made, including in a 2006 Christmas speech where he complained that “a minority, the descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ”, now had “taken possession of all of the wealth of the world”. In 2009, attacks on a synagogue in Caracas were alleged to be influenced by “vocal denunciations of Israel” by the Venezuelan state media and Hugo Chávez even though Chavez promptly condemned the attacks blaming an “oligarchy”.
Chávez died in March 2013. But they brought Chavez back from the dead in 2018. You can’t keep a good socialist down. His Twitter account was reactivated and he was named “Eternal Leader.” Nice.
— Hugo Chávez Frías (@chavezcandanga) January 25, 2018
So Chávez was dead. Surely now Venezuela would recover and become the socialist paradise it was meant to be all along? Well no.
Starting off as a bus driver (again familiar territory), Maduro rose to become a trade union leader before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions within the Venezuelan Government under Chávez, ultimately being made Foreign Minister in 2006. He was described during this time as the “most capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner circle”. After Chávez’s death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the powers and responsibilities of the President. A special election was held on 14 April 2013 to elect a new President and Maduro won with 50.62% of the votes as the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He was formally inaugurated on 19 April.
Luisa Ortega Díaz, Chief Prosecutor of Venezuela from 2007 to 2017 revealed that President Maduro had been profiting from the shortages in Venezuela (for the many, not the few). The government-operated Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP) that provides food to Venezuelans in need made contracts with Group Grand Limited, a group owned by Maduro through frontmen Rodolfo Reyes, Álvaro Uguedo Vargas and Alex Saab. Group Grand Limited, a Mexican entity owned by Maduro, would sell foodstuffs to CLAP and receive government funds.
According to the 2013 Global Misery Index Scores, Venezuela was ranked as the top spot globally with the highest misery index score. In data provided by the CIA, Venezuela had the second highest inflation rate (56.20%) in the world for 2013, only behind the war-torn Syria. The money supply of the Bolivar Fuerte in Venezuela also continues to accelerate, possibly helping to fuel more inflation. The Venezuelan government’s economic policies, including strict Price controls, led to one of the highest inflation rates in the world with “sporadic hyperinflation“, and have caused severe shortages of food and other basic goods. Such policies created by the Venezuelan government have hurt businesses and led to shortages, long queues, and looting.
— Amir Richani (@amir_richani) March 9, 2018
In Venezuela, a person is murdered every 21 minutes. In the first two months of 2014, nearly 3,000 people were murdered – 10% more than in the previous year and 500% higher than when Hugo Chávez first took office. In 2014, Quartz claimed that the high murder rate was due to Venezuela’s “ growing poverty rate; rampant corruption; high levels of gun ownership; and a failure to punish murderers (91% of the murders go unpunished, according to the Institute for Research on Coexistence and Citizen Security).” InsightCrime attributed the escalating violence to “high levels of corruption, a lack of investment in the police force and weak gun control.
In 2014, a series of protests, political demonstrations, and civil insurrection began in Venezuela due to the country’s high levels of urban violence, inflation, and chronic shortages of basic goods attributed to economic policies. While protests occurred in January 2014, after the murder of actress and former Miss Venezuela Mónica Spear, mass protesting began in earnest that February following the attempted rape of a student on a university campus in San Cristóbal. Subsequent arrests and killings of student protestors spurred their expansion to neighbouring cities and the involvement of opposition leaders. The year’s early months were characterized by large demonstrations and violent clashes between protestors and government forces that resulted in nearly 4,000 arrests and 43 deaths, including both supporters and opponents of the government. It is ironic that many students want to bring socialism to their country, maybe after listening to promises of free stuff. It is often the same students that end up having to fight to get rid of socialism (strong message here).
Wuilly Arteaga, 23, a symbol of peaceful protest in #Venezuela, fled after officers detained & brutally beat him & interrogated him so he’d incriminate opposition leaders. Impunity for these and other abuses of the 2017 crackdown on dissent is the norm https://t.co/F8UXDX9FAe pic.twitter.com/te85JhKqlO
— HRW Venezuela (@HRW_Venezuela) January 8, 2018
Toward the end of 2014, and into 2015, continued shortages and low oil prices caused renewed protesting. By 2016, protests occurred following the controversy surrounding the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary elections as well as the incidents surrounding the 2016 recall referendum. On 1 September 2016, the largest demonstration of the protests occurred, with over 1 million Venezuelans, or over 3% of the entire nation’s population, gathered to demand a recall election against President Maduro, with the event being described as the “largest demonstration in the history of Venezuela”. Following the suspension of the recall referendum by the government-leaning National Electoral Council (CNE) on 21 October 2016, the opposition organized another protest which was held on 26 October 2016, with over 1.2 million Venezuelans participating. After some of the largest protests occurred in a late-2016, Vatican-mediate dialogue between the opposition and government was attempted and ultimately failed in January 2017. Concentration on protests subsided in the first months of 2017 until the 2017 Venezuelan constitutional crisis occurred when the pro-government Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela attempted to assume the powers of the opposition-led National Assembly and removed their immunity, though the move was reversed days later, demonstrations grew “into the most combative since a wave of unrest in 2014”. The protests are considered to be the Mother of all Protests.
— Jonathon Davies (@JonD99) May 8, 2018
Some mysterious chemical agents were used in Venezuela as well. On 20 March 2014, the appearance of “red gas” first occurred when it was used in San Cristóbal against protesters, with reports that it was CN gas. The first reported use of “green gas” was on 15 February 2014 against demonstrations in Altamira. On 25 April 2014, “green gas” was reportedly used again on protesters in Mérida. Venezuelan-American Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Center for International Development at Harvard made statements that this gas caused protestors to vomit. Some reported that the chemical used was adamsite, a yellow-green arsenical chemical weapon that can cause respiratory distress, nausea and vomiting. Hail glorious socialism, comrades! Don’t worry, I’m sure all those affected were free speech Nazis.
News site todayvenezuela.com reported: “The Icelandic Ministry of Transport and Local Government received a letter from the European Transport Agency on Friday, October 20th 2017. requesting permission to transport anti-riot gear to Venezuela; however, the query was rejected. The agency requested the transfer of 16 tons of tear gas from China to Venezuela. The material would have made a stop at the airport in the town of Keflavik, south of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. According to their website, “the Ministry recommends that the Icelandic Transport Agency refuse the aforementioned consultations on the transfer of military data in Icelandic territory,” arguing that, in Venezuela, vulnerable areas of the country don’t respect basic human rights.” The wondrous EU appeared to be fine with this.
But remember kids: every time it fails, it wasn’t real socialism! You can just keep trying again and again. It’s bound to work sometime…
© Jonathon Davies 2018