Hugo Chavez

Survivor Socialism?

Socialism still has its fans despite the fact it’s failed everywhere and every time it’s been practised.

Its adherents still cling to the myth that it serves the people and its wealthy proponents from the leafy suburbs – Kelsey, De Boni, Trotter, Mau, Campbell et al – should be sent to South America to enjoy its many benefits…Survivor Socialism perhaps ?

Venezuela’s embattled president has announced that he is to increase the price of petrol by 6,000 per cent, as the crippled country struggles to remain afloat economically and politically.

Nicolas Maduro used a rambling five hour televised address to explain the first petrol price increase in 17 years, which came into effect on Friday. Mr Maduro had little choice, with the economy spiralling towards collapse – but knows that he is taking a risk. When the Venezuelan government increased petrol prices in 1989, the Caracazo riots broke out, killing up to 3,000 people.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, and still has the cheapest petrol in the world. Prices at the pump for 95 octane gasoline will rise from 0.097 bolívars to six bolívars (66p).

Hong Kong has the world’s most expensive petrol, at £5.55 for a gallon. Until yesterday Venezuela charged 0.5 pence per gallon. Kuwait, the second cheapest place in the world for petrol, charges 68p a gallon, according to the monitoring site Global Petrol Prices.   Read more »

How’s that socialist dream working out for Venezuela?

The Washington Post reports that the country with the world’s largest known oil reserves is on the brink of economic collapse thanks to wacky socialists.

The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever.

Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

That’s not an easy thing to do when you have the largest oil reserves in the world, but Venezuela has managed it.

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What is Christmas like in a Socialist country


There are many in New Zealand who hanker for a hard socialist country, one where the state controls everything.

But what would Christmas look like in such a socialist country?

We don’t have to look far, Venezuela is the best example of a failed socialist paradise.

Years of socialist price controls and rock-bottom crude oil prices have left the nation of Venezuela with little money left to spend on presents, feasts, or even Christmas lights, as residents complain December feels like “any other month” after two years of President Nicolás Maduro.

“This year, Christmas is dead, there is not enough money,” Elise Belisario, a resident of the Caracas suburb Petare, tells Agence France-Presse (AFP). She notes there is no Christmas decor anywhere and people do not have enough money to buy presents. Some cannot even afford the basic goods needed to put together a traditional feast of roast pork and assorted sides.   Read more »

Venezuela’s socialist paradise is turning into a nightmare

Venezuela is held up by many on the left as a socialist paradise, funded by oil profits and dogged by big spending socialist governments the place is rooted.

They can’t afford condoms, a 36-pack of Trojan condoms are going for 4,760 bolivars (about $US750) and now with oil prices plunging people are dying in the socialist paradise for want of simple medical supplies.

Venezuela is suffering under the boot of socialism.

For Jose Perez, a Venezuelan taxi driver from Caracas, the hardest part about watching his wife die from heart failure was knowing just how easily she could have been saved.

The surgeons at the Caracas University Hospital were ready to operate on 51-year-old Carmen, but because of the shortages of medicines now ravaging Venezuela, they had no stocks of the prosthetic artery that would have saved her life.

For a day, the family enjoyed a glimmer of hope after a nationwide search uncovered one such device, but Carmen needed two and a second one was nowhere to be found. She died two days later.

It is life-and-death stories like these that illustrate the depth of the economic crisis now confronting Venezuela, a crumbling socialist-run petro-state that looks in danger of being tipped over the edge by the crunch in world oil prices.

For Venezuelans like Mr Perez and tens of thousands more awaiting medical treatment around the country, the magic realism of Hugo Chavez’s great Bolivarian socialist revolution has turned to bitter reality less than two years after the former leader’s death from cancer.

“It’s the government who is responsible for my wife’s death, not the doctors,” Mr Perez, 63, told The Telegraph last week. “Things are very bad in this country, and they are getting worse. I feel that we are in a dictatorship. At the start I believed in Chavez, now I can’t look at him. He is in the best place now.”

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Is this where Labour’s housing policy ends up?

David Cunliffe should take note of where socialism ends up, though their coalition partner, the Greens, would no doubt see no problem with this.

It’s just a small step away from a CGT and banning anyone who doesn’t look like an Anglo Saxon from entering the property market.

Landlords in Venezuela have been ordered to sell any property they have owned for more than 20 years – or face a £24,000 fine.

Those who do not pay the penalty within five days will be evicted, and the state will seize the property.

The unprecedented scheme, announced with immediate effect on Monday, is a wild bid by the nation’s government to plug the huge housing shortage.

To prevent a dip in the market, the decree rules landlords can only charge a ‘fair price’ for their homes – that must be submitted to the government prior to the sale.

Guideline prices will be published once the inflation rate for this year has been calculated. In 2013, it rose to 56.2 per cent.

The law has been met with a barrage of criticism from the real estate industry, with experts warning it will fuel a new form of black market renting.

Roberto Orta, president of The Rented Properties Association (Apiur) in Caracas, blasted the law as ‘unconstitutional’, claiming it will strip ‘legitimate’ owners of their livelihood.

He told Noticias24: ‘Many of these buildings are occupied by elderly people who often aren’t eligible for bank loans, so many of them won’t be able to pay.’

Housing in Venezuela has been plummeting for 15 years, as the population grows and the slums crumble.  Read more »

Even with massive oil riches to fund it, socialism always fails

Venezuela is poised on the brink. I blogged on Saturday about the carnage unfolding on the streets, and David Farrar blogged about the shutdown of the internet in an attempt to silence news and dissent.

It won’t work. News will leak out. It already is.

How are things coming along in Venezuela, that paradise of democratic socialism? You must remember Venezuela. That’s the country that Diane Abbott said was showing “a better way”, which Owen Jones told us had proven that “you can lead a progressive, popular government that says no to neo-liberalism”? The apple in the eye of Marx, the last hope for humanity in a world of fat cat banksters and austerity Scrooges. The Copacobana of the international revolution. Viva!

How is Venezuela doing? Well, tens of thousands of protesters are in the streets, the army’s been sent to crush revolt, an opposition leader has been arrested and supporters of the government just shot dead a former beauty queen. It’s going to hell in a handcart, that’s how it’s doing.

After Hugo Chavez died he was replaced by Nicolas Maduro, a man of considerably less talent who bears a striking resemblance to an obese Burt Reynolds. A Venezuelan friend explains that Chavez’s titanic personality held his revolution together, reconciling its various contradictions with his charismatic nationalism. By contrast, “Maduro has let the worst people take over” – surrendering authority to radical mobs and corrupt officials in a bid to keep them all on side. The result? Bad economic management, inflation at 56 per cent, rising unemployment, food shortages, shocking levels of crime and an increasing reliance on government control of the press.

The Left always insisted under Chavez that some meddling in the media was necessary because it was otherwise controlled by dark, foreign forces (read: people who disagreed with Chavez). But Maduro is now threatening to expel CNN, which is about the fairest and most balanced news source on the planet. CNN’s crime was to report on the recent protests that have engulfed the capital. And good for CNN. Coverage on what’s happening in Venezuela has been eclipsed by events in Ukraine, so for those who don’t know here’s what’s happening on the ground.

– On February 12, the opposition held a massive rally that resulted in bloodshed. Three people were killed, including two opposition protesters and one pro-government activist. The National Guard was dispatched to prevent further rallies.
– Violence quickly spread out across the country. Some 3,000 troops were sent to pacify the city of San Cristobal, where the government also cut off transport links and the internet.
– Opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, was forced to hand himself over to the National Guard on charges of inciting violence.
– The President blamed America for starting the conflict and has expelled US officials.
– Local TV stations have gone into lockdown and simply aren’t reporting the fighting. Venezuelans are relying on social media, which includes some false reporting. The opposition lack a single national TV outlet to be heard on.  Read more »

Is Venezuela about to tip over?

You won’t see this yet on mainstream sites, but it appears there are massive problems in Venezuela that is now tipping over into significant violence. hints at the unfolding unrest:

Hugo Chavez considered himself and his party and the people of Venezuela one and the same. He created an expansive welfare state that built a dependency in the population not just on the Venezuelan government, but on Chavez’ United Socialist Party. After his death, his chosen successor Nicholas Maduro mobilized every part of the Venezuelan state he could to secure his election, “officially” winning with just 50.8 percent of the vote. That was enough of a victory, nevertheless, to claim a mandate to move forward on an ambitious program of total control by the state. What happened next shouldn’t be surprising. The standard of living in Venezuela continued to decline. The government imposed price controls on everything from used cars to toilet paper to all consumer goods, then blamed capitalists and not their own destructive government intervention on the economic disaster price controls exacerbated.

Now, less than a year after Maduro’s “victory,” a critical mass of Venezuela’s population has had enough, taking to the streets in some of the largest protests the South American country has seen in its history. El Comercio in Peru explains that the Maduro government is using its “Board of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television” to threaten news outlets in the country that transmit images that could “foment anxiety,” like video of the protests and government violence therein, with sanctions. You can see video via Peru’s El Comercio purporting to show a student being killed by pro-government forces hereRead more »

Venezuela’s socialist dream in tatters

The Labour party has already signalled that they want to have a crack at supermarkets, probably in  manner not unlike their power policy.

Here is how Venezuela is doing as a socialist paradise…No food at state run supermarkets, no bog paper to be found either, the socialist dream in ruins…a preview of life under the Labour / Green monster?

Amid food shortages, rampant inflation and widespread electricity blackouts, many Venezuelans are wondering if Chavez chose the right heir to his revolution.

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.   Read more »

Venezuela on the skids

Shane Jones and Labour’s inspiration for their supermarket enquiry comes from Venezuela.

Lets face it David Cunliffe receives a bunch of roses at his campaign launch and beams proudly as he declares them the international symbol of socialism, for Venezuelans the new symbol is a daggy bum.

A chronic shortage of toilet paper has forced the Venezualan government to send troops to a factory to make sure stocks are fairly distributed.

The South American country has been beset by a lack of consumer goods due to inflation and tough trading conditions.

It has led President Nicolas Maduro to order a national price regulator to take over loo roll plants in the capital Caracas to verify production processes and distribution, before placing them under the watch of the National Guard.

In a tweet on Thursday, Venezuela’s Vice President, Jorge Arreaza, said authorities would ‘not permit hoarding of essential commodities, or any faults in the production and distribution process’.

‘The action taken at the producer of toilet paper, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers corresponds to the obligation of the state to guarantee the normal supply of primary necessities,’ price regulator Sundecop said in a statement.  Read more »

NZ Power’s successful trial in Latin America rolls on

NZ Power‘s successful trial in Latin America rolls on.

Venezuela’s hugely successful goal of providing cheap power to its voters has the unexpected bonus of the Greens goal of reducing our carbon footprint.

No need to use that polluting car to get to work, it’s shut.

Large swaths of Venezuela have been paralysed by an electricity blackout that brought chaos to the capital and fuelled public anger at the government’s failure to keep the lights on in the oil-rich nation.

At least 70 per cent of the country was plunged into darkness after the main electricity distribution network collapsed, a fact Nicolas Maduro, the country’s leftist president, blamed on “sabotage” by his Right-wing enemies.  Read more »