It’s about time we shed some tears for Venezuela. Rarely has such a wealthy nation, one that has massive petroleum reserves, collapsed so thoroughly into poverty, destitution and anarchy.
Thanks to the socialism imposed by Hugo Chavez and carried forward by his successor Nicolas Maduro, the nation is on the verge of absolute collapse, complete with food shortages, runaway inflation, riots, looting, vigilante justice, dictatorial decrees, power outages, skyrocketing infant mortality, et cetera. Reliant on the government for food, people have been reduced to hunting cats, dogs, and birds to fend off starvation.
For a more vivid picture, the Daily Mail describes conditions in a Venezuelan hospital:
The impact of Venezuela's economic collapse on its people is almost impossible to put into words.
But these images inside calamity-hit hospitals go some way to communicating the devastation.
Since oil prices plummeted, all aspects of everyday life - electricity, food, paper - have been rationed.
Critically, medical centers are in crisis.
Without soap, antibiotics, power, gloves and x-rays, surgeons are struggling to keep patients alive.
Pictures taken by New York Times photographer Meridith Kohut offer a glimpse inside some of the most notorious centers - while President Nicolas Maduro claims the socialist nation as the best healthcare in the world.
The Luis Razetti Hospital in the portal city of Barcelona looks like a war zone.
Patients can be seen balancing themselves on half-broken beds with days-old blood dried up on their bodies.
They're the lucky ones; most are curled up on the floor, blood streaming, limbs blackening.
Children lie among dirty cardboard boxes in the hallways without food, water or medication.
Without electricity or functioning machines, medics have had to create their own solutions. Two men who had surgery on their legs have their limbs elevated by makeshift slings made out of water bottles.
One man is missing half his skull after a severe head injury a year ago. He is still waiting for post-surgery treatment.
Last summer, the Daily Mail reported how rampant opossums had infested the Luiz Razetti Hospital, killing 17 newborns.
That was just the start of months of misery at the center, according to the New York Times.
In just one day, the newspaper's reporters witnessed the deaths of seven babies since there were no oxygen tanks, and doctors had to pump air into their lungs by hand.
A 68-year-old diabetic patient interviewed in the article has to have her leg amputated; the hospital did not have dialysis machines or the antibiotics she requires.
One had to have an almost-rupturing appendix removed without the proper tools or sanitation. Another died because the blood bank was closed due to a public holiday, which was randomly called by the government to save electricity.
Since the New York Times has been reporting the story, we cannot say that the mainstream liberal press has been ignoring Venezuela.
If you are asking yourself why Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro does not ask for outside help, the answer comes as a shock. He does not ask because he believes that outsiders would “privatize” the hospital system. And we all know that socialized medicine is the wave of the future. Besides, Maduro says that Venezuela’s health care system is the best in the world.
We understand that leftists are not going to take any responsibility for the grand socialist experiment called Venezuela. The Bernie Sanders supporters who are defending socialism are not going to admit that Venezuela is what true socialism looks like. They are more likely to say that it represents totalitarian Communism, and thus, like every failed socialist experiment—including German National Socialism—it does not count.
Back in the day, however, before the current catastrophe, American leftists were singing from a different hymnal. The Moonbattery blog quotes a Salon article from 2013:
Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal [i.e., free market] economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.
For instance, according to data compiled by the UK Guardian, Chavez’s first decade in office saw Venezuelan GDP more than double and both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved. Then there is a remarkable graph from the World Bank that shows that under Chavez’s brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted (the Guardianreports that its “extreme poverty” rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent just a decade later). In all, that left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. Additionally, as Weisbrot points out, “college enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.”
What appeared to be a policy success was the result of the Chavez government looting the nation’s oil revenues and other sources of wealth. When the oil revenues dried up, there was nothing left to loot. When you confiscate the income of the rich you can redistribute it and create a simulation of prosperity. But then there is no more wealth confiscate and your Socialist Paradise becomes an Inferno.
As it happens, Salon was not alone in touting the Venezuelan miracle. Bret Stephens has dredged up the encomia thrown at Hugo Chavez by prominent Western leftists.
Among them, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said in 2013, when Chavez died:
Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.
Stephens adds to the list:
In its day, Chavismo found champions, apologists and useful idiots among influential political figures and supposed thought leaders. In Massachusetts there were Joseph P. Kennedy and Rep. Bill Delahunt, who arranged a propaganda coup for the strongman by agreeing to purchase discounted Venezuelan heating oil for U.S. consumers. The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel extolled Chávez for defying the Bush administration and offering “an innovative four-point program to renew and reform the U.N.”
Up north, Naomi Klein, Canada’s second-most unpleasant export, treated Chávez as heroically leading the resistance to the forces of dreaded neoliberalism. Jimmy Carter mourned Chávez for “his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment.”
You get the picture. Radical leftists and even some liberal progressives were falling all over themselves to praise Hugo Chavez. Where are their voices today?
OK, I get it. When they next speak they are going to blame it all on the Bush administration.