Tuesday 7 May 2019

Venezuela; a sad story for all concerned

In recent years, a stick to beat Corbyn and lefties everywhere has been the dire state of Venezuela.

Venezuela is a super case study. President Chavez took over a very corrupt country, a victim of much cold war interference and narco-terrorism. However, he took it over with a Marxist-socialist government of a country that was one of the world's largest producers and that was producing vast revenues for the Government from already state owned PDVSA. Those revenues lost a lot to corruption, but were there for the Government

As such, it is a real world example of the magic money tree basically coming true. There was money for school and hospitals, for poverty relief, for Cuba, for London buses (under Red Ken) and for generally fomenting revolution. It became quickly a text book case for the likes of Corbyn and lefty fellow-travellers - how the poor were helped by Marxism.

Of course, reality took  a different turn, then non-oil side of the economy had suffered repeated collapses since the 1970's due to over-reliance on oil revenues. As soon as Chavez took over he started pressuring what little private economy existed, which resulted in a general strike led by the bosses against the workers - but in defence of their right to exist as businesses. This quickly managed to make both Chavez and the bosses unpopular, even resulting in a failed Coup.

Chavez, sticking to the Marxist script, slowly took more and more dictatorial powers and turned democracy into a sham in the country. The huge oil revenues of 2006-2008 covered much of this up but since then it has been a total disaster.

The revenues have collapsed but with huge political interference (read nepotism and graft) in PDVSA production from the world's largest oil reserves has plummeted to less than half of what it used to be. All at a time when the USA has nearly tripled its domestic production.

President Maduro has continued the sham democracy and increased the kleptocracy in the County in line with all other previous Marxist-socialist experiments. There are quite a few billionaires in Caracas at the same time as the now hyper-inflation has literally ruined the economy and people.

Of course, being pretend Marxists, the Government of Venezuela is quick to blame the USA for all its ills. The USA has not really been that involved until recently, but under Trump seems to have finally decided to play a role in trying to oust Maduro - as it happens this is far more likely  to do with stemming immigration from a large failed state than gaining access to oil it no longer needs. But for the Left in this country, it makes more comfortable reading to believe the old anti-imperialist tropes (easily supported because China struck a mega-deal with Venez when it was broke to buy all its oil super cheap and is keen to keep this one sided bargain going) as China and Russia back Maduro.

But then as of this week the US interference has failed, its soft backing for the alternative Government has resulted in a failed coup. Moreover, its sanctions on PDVSA have hurt the finances of the Country even more to the point where medicines long ago ran and out people have been forced to eat their pets - all in a country that should be as rich as Norway. Now the US is discussing military intervention that will not have either world or perhaps even local support (you might hate Maduro but your family being killed by us bombs is not an improvement, is it?). So the US may yet turn into its imperialist caricature from the left.

Meanwhile, for me, the main lesson is that even with a magic money tree Marxism fails. It simply does not work to hand out free money to as many people as you can and then somehow think the socio-economic underpinning of a country will survive. People stop working, businesses collapse and everything focus's on imports - this inevitably leads to hyper-inflation and collapse.


John in Cheshire said...

There's someone on YouTube called Florida Maquis, who writes about Venezuela. Some of what he says is interesting and provides an alternative view of what is happening in that country.

I don't know anything about the country so I have no opinion on what is happening, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. However, I can't help but wonder why the USA, the UK and the rest can't just leave Venezuela alone to solve its problems by itself.

dearieme said...

'the US may yet turn into its imperialist caricature from the left': it's been working hard at that since the USSR collapsed. As a football commentator might say "the USSR kept the USA honest". That's 'honest' as a technical term, of course.

Or you might argue that the US is just reverting to type: until 1941 every US war had been a war of US aggression. Since 1945 ... well you could make the case that the First Gulf War and the Afghan War were not US Wars of Aggression.

But Iraq2, Korea, Vietnam, Serbia, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and whomever is next ...

Maybe it's a bit unfair to include Yemen on the list since it's being fought by a proxy, but it may compensate for some other country I've forgotten. Ah yes, Lebanon.

CityUnslicker said...

John - as world population continues to increase to ever larger numbers, we will find in future a lot less tolerance for failed states because they produce a very harmful side-effect - millions of immigrants.

I can only imagine what a failed state in Nigeria or India would unleash on the world in terms of emigration.

The US cares now about Venezuela for different reasons than in the past.

Dearime - few of those are wars of aggression, although Iraq2 stands out as one. It barley touched Syria and Serbia served no US interests at all. In Korea it came to the defence of a country attacked by china/Russia militants.

I think a more plausible, yet equally disturbing view, is to say that the US is highly inconsistent in its actions in foreign affairs since WW11 whereas pre WW11 it was much simpler - which considering it owns the biggest military stick, is worrying for much of mankind.

Anonymous said...

Remind me about the difference between corruption in Venezuela and nepotism in Saudi Arabia. One appears to have US oil companies working there and buys US arms; and the other doesn't.

If only blogger's analyses were as simple as you make it seem.

Anonymous said...

Zimbabwe under the Marxist Mugabe is a parallel case.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy.
It’s feudal.
But a capitalist feudalism.

Everyone has land. Even the lowest serf. And they all have a home.

Why is Saudi a success and Venezuela a failure?

The Saudis just stuck with nationalising the oil.

Anonymous said...

I accept that Maduro's not doing well, although the sanctions don't help.

But as others have pointed out, the US choice of which evil regime to subvert/invade (how much time have you got?), which to ignore (Zimbabwe), which to send a couple of billion a year to (Egypt) and which to closely ally with even as they bomb Yemen back several millennia (Saudi) is not exactly consistent.

I'm grateful that the coup attempt failed, because I have friends in that neck of the woods who don't live behind high walls with armed guards. It's amazing how many Brits are in South/Latin America these days. A successful coup could well have meant it all kicking off in their neigbours, at peace after decades of unpleasant guerilla warfare. In such a scenario Americans and Brits would be prime targets.

dearieme said...

"In Korea it came to the defence of a country attacked by china/Russia militants."

A country that the USA had recently omitted from a published list of those countries it viewed as allies and would defend if attacked. It was a war of choice.

CityUnslicker said...

Dearime - Korea was a UN sanctioned war.

Really interesting comments all - and of course a true analysis for Venez situation is not going to get covered in a few para's.

However, I totally dispute this is all about US intervention. Venez's problems are self-generated economic and social. They have been one of the world's largest oil exporters since before WW11. They have not been invaded, the US was happy to pay for the oil, as was China.

Oil has destroyed their non-oil economy a few times. But the thing that has led to total destitution is the Chavez regime and the Marxist logic behind it which, as it always has when tried, turns to a kleptocracy.

Saying somehow the whole thing is about the US and whether or not it intervenes is whataboutery. US intervention is rarely positive, that much we all know to our cost.

Anonymous said...

Trouble is it's hard to disentangle the current Venezuela mess from US foreign policy when they've been imposing sanctions for four and a half years . The US may not be what it was (when was the last failed CIA-backed coup?) but it still has a lot of power, as any Brit who tries flogging high-speed switches to Iran will tell you.

If this site is right, the latest moves are pretty much a declaration of war.


I appreciate your point that socialism isn't the best system, but that's Venezuela's business. A lot of people outside the UK think Brexit wasn't the best decision, but that's our business - or should be. National sovereignty for all!

hovis said...

E-K the Greenist lobby is suspiciously corporate.

Look up XR's Gail Bradbrook - not the sanitised crap on Wikipedia but her "digital inclusion" lobbying which is essentailly a front for telecoms and other large corporates to set an agenda in their favour. When they talk of "sustainable" they do not mean actually (or demonstrably) sustainable systems but sustainable as defined in UN agenda 2030. More control, more surveillance, more tax, more profits for the embeded players.

Jan said...

O/T but when is Teresa May going? I said months ago she wouldn't go without a fight and would have to be prised out of Downing Street. I'm beginning to think her true motivation was nothing to do with leaving the EU but was to destroy the Tory party.