Socialism hastens the demise in Venezuela

The army has been sent into toilet paper factories, fights for basic foodstuffs have resulted in several deaths and new, multi-million dollar oil tankers are sitting idle in dock. And, despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on.

Now many in Venezuela are wondering how much longer President Nicolas Maduro, the anointed successor of the country’s firebrand Leftist leader Hugo Chavez, can keep hold of the reins of its crumbling socialist revolution.

Last week Mr Maduro was forced to turn to a well-worn answer for his country’s woes, blaming a US plot to “sabotage the electrical system and the Venezuelan economy” and kicking out Washington’s envoy to the South American country. “Out of Venezuela!” he railed on state television, adding in English: “Yankees go home!”

It was a move copied straight from the playbook of Chavez, the vocal anti-imperialist who passed away in February, and one which killed off any hopes of rapprochement with the US following years of thorny relations.

If that wasn’t enough, Mr Maduro then accused the US Drug Enforcement Agency of orchestrating the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine seized last month from an Air France plane flying out of Caracas. With the government long accused by Washington of complicity in the drug trade - counter-narcotics officials say some 50 per cent of cocaine in Britain is now trafficked through Venezuela - the bust was likely a US plot using mafias to brand the country a “narco-state”, he said.

For years Chavez’s foreign minister, Mr Maduro was the more moderate, pragmatic face of the Venezuelan Revolution. Now, seeking to emulate the man still known affectionately to many as “El Comandante” (the Commander), his aggressive leadership style has not only come as a surprise, but a poor imitation.

“He dresses in military fatigues to look like Chavez, but when he opens his mouth all you see is a bad copy”, said Miguel Arnas, an insurance salesman waiting in a three-hour bank queue in Caracas.

While Chavez’s revolution diverted the country’s vast oil wealth to fund social programmes - with considerable initial success - after almost 15 years many Venezuelans feel the country has not got nearly enough to show for oil and gas reserves that were in 2011 certified by OPEC as the world’s largest. By the time of Chavez’s death, economic mismanagement and corruption - Venezuela is the most corrupt country in the Americas, according to Transparency International - had already crippled the socialist project he dreamed of. Under Mr Maduro, it has entered an advanced state of decay.
The command economy was doomed to failure to begin with, but it is even worse when compounded by ineptitude and corruption.   Not even teh drug transit business is enough to pay for the failure of socialism in Venezuela.


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