Another Socialist Paradise (Pipedream) Circling the Toilet


#1

And as Thatcher always said: The problem with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of someone else’s money… As Trump said: The problem with Venezuela is not that socialism was implemented badly but that it was implemented perfectly… Read on… Yet ONE more example of a country ruined by posturing “good intentions.” Where’s Jimmy Carter when you need him? Off to North Korea?

Venezuela, the South American country convulsed by economic and humanitarian catastrophe, has defaulted on some of its debt after missing an interest payment due in October. Even as investors meet in Caracas to discuss restructuring US$60 billion in foreign debt, the country is in urgent need of international financial assistance.

Yet few nations are rushing in to offer financial assistance to the ailing country. Under the authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela is isolated in Latin America, and the United States, Canada and the European Union have all imposed sanctions against Venezuelan officials. Maduro has at times suggested he would not even accept humanitarian aid.

Before exploring a possible Venezuela rescue, it is useful to understand how the country’s debt became such a burden. In 1998, the year before the late Hugo Chávez came into power, Venezuela was rich. It produced roughly 60 barrels of oil per inhabitant per year. By late 2017, my projections - based on data compiled from Venezuela’s National Statistics Institute and BP’s World Energy Report 2017 - show that production will have dropped to 20 barrels per capita. That’s a 66 percent drop in 20 years.

Even as output steadily shrank, Chávez benefitted from relatively high oil prices, which allowed him to boost revenue from petroleum exports. And as oil sales rose, so did government expenditures, as well as imports of food and other goods.

> Eventually, excess spending took a toll on Venezuela’s international reserves. Rather than cut expenditures and imports, the Chávez regime piled up foreign debt.

Then, in late 2014, international oil prices began to plunge. Today, estimates indicate that Venezuela’s public sector debt tops $184.5 billion, including $60 billion in foreign debt, though the Venezuelan Central Bank claims it’s much lower.

To service this debt, the government must pay $16 billion to $20 billion a year through at least 2022. Shouldering that huge expense has meant slashing imports, causing food and medicine shortages. As a result, almost 54 percent of Venezuelan children are malnourished.

To ensure its citizens’ basic well-being, Venezuela must be able to import, on average, $1,000 a year per inhabitant - or roughly $33 billion a year. My data show it’s currently bringing in about half that.


#2

Citation?


#3

Possibly, yes. Trying to stop a nuclear war, like the pussy that he is.

Are you implying that President Carter was/is a Communist Socialist commie or com symp who is personally responsible for the rise to power of Hugo Chavez that occurred 19 years after he (Carter) left office as US president?

If so, I’m with you, but only in the Fuck 'Em All sort of way.


#4

The socialist thugs who run Venezuela have made such a pig’s ear of running the economy that the country has now been declared in ‘selective default’ on its international debt. This week, Standard & Poor’s, the credit ratings agency, said Venezuela had failed to make $200m (£152m) in repayments on its foreign debt and that it was in ‘selective default’. Fitch and Moody’s have declared PDVSA, the country’s state-run oil company, in default, as well. Venezuela’s regime has already indicated that it wants to restructure its £100bn of international debt, including the £30bn or so that it owes Russia and China. Investors fear the worst and the haircut could be more than 50 per cent.

The government of Nicolas Maduro ­– the former bus driver who became the country’s president in April 2013 upon the death of socialist superhero Hugo Chavez – has reduced Latin America’s richest nation to the brink of bankruptcy through idiotic economic policies and out-and-out corruption. This beautiful Caribbean land with 32m people sits on top of the world’s biggest oil reserves at 301bn barrels (compared with Saudi Arabia’s 266bn barrels); since 2002, Venezuela has been in the throes of a socialist experiment that Jeremy Corbyn once hailed as the model for Britain.

The regime is trying to blame the US and the country’s middle class opposition for its woes but that is just not good enough. These problems are entirely self-inflicted. At the root of the crisis lies a crazy fixed rate exchange rate mechanism that feeds rampant corruption and the economic incompetents who manage the country show no willingness to end it. It is estimated that 100,000 cronies and friends of the regime get preferential access to dollars at the rate of ten bolivars per dollar. But once they have got their grubby hands on those dollars they are able to exchange every single one for an unbelievable 57,370 bolivars. The mark up is enormous and the government is terrified of terminating a deal that has benefitted the top brass of the military and the socialist oligarchy that runs the country. It has turned them into bolivar billionaires.

However, this ludicrous situation has reduced the country’s population to penury. The minimum salary in the country is 325,544 bolivars, including 189,000 in luncheon vouchers. At the official exchange rate that would amount to an $32,500 (£25,000) a month but at the black market rate is a measly $5.67 (£4.30) a month. And it is the black market rate that matters when you want to buy food or travel overseas.

Ordinary Venezuelans are suffering terribly but the country’s government – and Corbyn – seems to ignore their plight. For example, a small tin of sardines costs 11,000 bolivars, so the monthly minimum wage is the equivalent to only 29 tins. A bag of rice is 40,000, so the salary is the same as eight bags. Is it little wonder that 75 per cent of the population lost 19 pounds in weight last year? A third of the people eat two or fewer meals a day and it is estimated that there are up to 2m scavengers who survive by rummaging through refuse every day. Socialism is reducing Venezuela to a nation of tramps and down-and-outs. Things have got so bad in the country’s diabolically awful prisons that there have been reported cases of cannibalism.

And it is not Maduro that has caused these problems – rather they are part of Chavez’s legacy. It was the late president who embarked on a nationalisation programme that decimated the productivity of the country’s leading industries. One of his first acts in office was to reinforce state control of PDVSA and, cleverly, he sacked 19,000 of the firm’s most talented employees. The company’s daily production has plummeted to 1.9m barrels from 3.5m barrels in 1998.

But the agricultural sector has also been ruined by socialist policies. Chavez nationalised rice mills and expropriated millions of acres of land. But rigid price controls have made it unprofitable for farmers to grow crops and productivity has now nosedived. The socialists quintupled the country’s national debt, resulting in the massive debt servicing problem the country faces today. The country had to slash its imports by a mind-boggling 93 per cent during the past five years, so that it could free up enough dollars just to service the foreign debt. According to Capital Economics, the country and PDVSA have to pay in debt principal and interest $10.08bn (£7.65bn) this year while the nation’s total imports add up to only $17.3bn (£13.13bn).

In ruthlessly driving down the country’s import volumes, the regime has already been ‘defaulting’ on its people for several years. It is now about to default on its international creditors but they are unlikely to starve in the same way as the Venezuelan people have had to.

Jason Mitchell is a British freelance journalist who lived in Venezuela until 2014


#5

Where would world peace and prosperity be without our “best ex president” and our “human rights president?” Problem is every country he touches: Iran, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, North Korea… well, you get the idea of how much his special sensibilities have advanced the causes he claims to care so much about…

Jimmy Carter gets it wrong on Venezuela, again
Last year, in the run-up to what would be Hugo Chávez’s final election, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter provided the ultimate cover for the late caudillo when he called the Venezuelan election process “the best in the world.” Today, as the country roils in the aftermath of a contested election to elect Chávez’s successor, we now know that …

BY JOSÉ R. CÁRDENAS | MAY 7, 2013, 4:19 PM

Last year, in the run-up to what would be Hugo Chávez’s final election, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter provided the ultimate cover for the late caudillo when he called the Venezuelan election process “the best in the world.” Today, as the country roils in the aftermath of a contested election to elect Chávez’s successor, we now know that is not the case.

Who says? Carter’s own election-monitoring organization. Last week, an official at the Carter Center told the Washington Post, “The concerns are not about the [voting] machines and whether they counted accurately. The questions are much more about who voted. Was there double voting? Was there impersonation of voters? And was there coerced voting?”

All good questions, ones which anyone should expect to be assessed before making pronouncements about any electoral process as the “best in the world.” This is no small matter, since the Carter Center, perhaps more than any other organization outside Venezuela, has repeatedly granted legitimacy to Hugo Chávez’s successive reelections, even as the evidence mounted that elections in Venezuela were exceedingly one-sided affairs.

From stacking the electoral council with his loyalists, to his near-monopoly control of the broadcasting media, to his non-transparent spending of Venezuela’s record oil profits for political purposes, to intimidating voters with the public exposure of their votes, Chávez used every tactic, above-board and underhanded, to smother opposition candidates.

But with the rabble-rouser-in-chief no longer among us, it appears chavismo, the movement Chávez created, has run its course. Something went seriously awry in April’s snap election for Chávez’s chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro. Whereas the late president won the October election by eleven percentage points, Maduro barely edged challenger Henrique Capriles, beating him by one percentage point.

What we learned from that election is that Maduro is no Chávez, and not even the obscene collusion between the government, the ruling party, and electoral officials could change that. (My colleague Roger Noriega has exposed the sophisticated chavista vote-getting machine here.) What they failed to account for was that Chávez’s link with his base was not transferrable to the wooden Maduro.

What Chávez’s successors also underestimated this time around is the adamant refusal of the opposition to accept another rigged election. They have demanded a recount, filed a protest with the Supreme Court, and asked for international solidarity with their cause. The Maduro government and its Cuban handlers have responded with the only thing they have left: violence.

Last week, opposition lawmakers were physically attacked on the floor of the National Assembly after they protested a move to silence them. Before that, Venezuelans were attacked in the street by government-armed thugs as they protested the election result.

Given the ongoing turmoil, the Obama administration has taken a principled stand in not recognizing the outcome until the opposition’s grievances are dealt with in some satisfactory way. During his trip to the region this past weekend, President Obama addressed the controversy:

“I think that the entire hemisphere has been watching the violence, the protests, the crackdowns on the opposition. I think our general view has been that it’s up to the people of Venezuela to choose their leaders in legitimate elections. Our approach to the entire hemisphere is not ideological. It’s not rooted back in the Cold War. It’s based on the notion of our basic principles of human rights and democracy and freedom of press and freedom of assembly. Are those being observed? There are reports that they have not been fully observed post-election. I think our only interest at this point is making sure that the people of Venezuela are able to determine their own destiny free from the kinds of practices that the entire hemisphere generally has moved away from.”

Right on the money, Mr. President. Let’s hope someone is listening in Georgia.


#6

Then, of course, we could talk about Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe but I think we all get the point of this post. I doubt, however, we will get much discussion as these facts are rather embarrassing to all those marching for similar such change in their own countries… If only they could be sent where they would be able to benefit directly from what they claim to want…


#7

I won’t claim to speak for the vast hordes of people silently reading this and agreeing, but I personally don’t get the point of this post.

Is it that communist autocracies are bad? Or that Jimmy Carter is bad?

Or is the point that both communist autocracies and Jimmy Carter are bad? Or that communist autocracies touched by Jimmy Carter are tainted by his sins (all of which were in his heart only)?

Does Venezuela itself not bear some responsibility for its own financial demise? When Saudi Arabia is an even worse disaster in 2030, will that also be Jimmy Carter’s fault?

These questions require answers, Fred. The time is now.


#8

Gee Gator… given your first post, with the first question… to which I replied… why do you think that I am mentioning Jimmy Carter?


#9

I don’t know. Because he’s a communist?

Your answer to my question is far too oblique for me (and, I strongly suspect, the accompanying silent majority choir) to understand. Unless I’m mistaken, it consists of a cut-and-paste from some guy’s blog. Perhaps multiple blogs.

Fred, with much respect, your argument could be better presented.

For example, “Jimmy Carter is a communist and communist sympathizer. Because of his misrepresentation of the fairness of Venezuela’s elections, he is directly responsible for the rise of Hugo Chavez, the mortgaging of Venezuela’s oil production to Communist China, and the collapse of Venezuela’s economy.”

Simple declarative sentences convey opinion far more effectively than very long pieces of copy-and-pasted text. Think of the audience, and pander.


#10

Why do you think it’s necessary to start a new thread and violate the rule about posting über-long quotations (again), when you already have at least two threads about Venezuela that have been active this year? Just curious. :idunno:


#11

Capitalism can run out of someone else’s money as well.


#12

Why do you think that I am posting this on a new thread?


#13

Well, I would have to hear a bit more about that. What were you thinking of?


#14

Is this Rowland with another ID? Or Jotham?


#15

Sure, make this a thread about Jimmy. It’ll be nice to talk about someone other than Donnie for a while! But do fix the thread title, please.


#16

Sure. Let’s fix it!


#17

:rofl:

No.


#18

Why are we bringing up the possible actions of a president who has not been in office for a period longer than about 90% of this forum has been alive?

Sorry Mr/s. Y I was replying to not-Rowland not to you. It just happened that way.


#19

No…Fred has a better sense of humor.


#20

You should be able to change it by editing the OP, even if you don’t have Trust Level 3.