Venezuela: Running out of Food, Gas, Medicine...and Time
Venezuela has been an economic basket case for more than five years, with predictions of its imminent demise a common sport on the web.
But somehow, someway, the nation manages to stay afloat -- although the life vest is full of holes and President Nicolas Maduro is stuffing it with lead weights.
The Venezuelan people have stoically endured the calamity that has befallen their nation -- a product of the unconscionable and idiotic policies of their government. But objectively speaking, just how bad is it?
Would you believe Cubans are fleeing Venezuela for a better life?
The economic horror in Venezuela continues to unfold--the Bolivarian socialists have achieved the entirely remarkable feat of making Cubans flee the country in search of a better life. Seriously, Cubans, from a poverty stricken socialist dictatorship are now leaving an oil rich nation in search of a better life. It takes a serious level of economic mismanagement to achieve that. That serious level being exactly the one thing that Venezuela has lots of, of course. So much so that Nicolas Maduro has just appealed to the United Nations to come and organise the supply of medicines for the country. This being something that normal places can manage on their own and usually rather well too.
The cause of all of this is that Maduro, and his predecessor Chavez, decided that the way to run an economy was to do everything that the textbooks say you shouldn't do to an economy.
If you're wondering why there hasn't been a revolution yet, it's because the government has its jackboot on the neck of its citizens.
In October, the Maduro government abruptly cancelled a recall referendum that could have removed the president from office. Gubernatorial elections scheduled for December have been postponed. Even voting for the leadership of many labour unions, professional organizations, public university governments and neighbourhood councils has been suspended.
For Chavismo, the leftist political movement founded by Chavez and which has ruled Venezuela for the past 18 years, "elections used to be sacred when they knew they could easily win them," said Eugenio Martínez, a Caracas journalist who specializes in electoral issues. "But as soon as elections became uncomfortable, they have tried to avoid them or to change the rules."
Venezuelan officials contend that elections are simply not a priority right now because they are dealing with more pressing matters, such as food shortages and triple-digit inflation they describe as part of an "economic war" being waged against them by the opposition.
In a January speech, Diosdado Cabello, a congressman and a key power broker within the ruling PSUV, bluntly stated: "We are not going to have elections.... What we are going to have here is revolution, and more revolution."
According to Almagro, phobia of elections is just the latest sign of Maduro's turn toward authoritarianism. His government holds more than 100 political prisoners and has cracked down on the media. It controls nearly all branches of power. Although the opposition holds a majority of seats in congress, the executive branch has neutered that body by using the judicial system to nullify new legislation.
In a column published Tuesday in the Bogota, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, Almagro declared: "Today… there is a dictatorship" in Venezuela.