Sitting at Hillary Clinton headquarters in South Carolina after a long day of work, there is almost nothing that pains me more than what I am about to do: defend Bernie Sanders.

Why would I do that? Because there is something that is even more painful, and that is hearing my fellow Venezuelans compare Sanders with Hugo Chávez.

The collective political trauma that Chavez left behind can’t help but cloud our judgment and our ability to understand other realities. After Bernie Sanders won the battle for New Hampshire by a landslide (ouch for me), I did what any reasonable millennial would do: I wasted my time on Facebook. Scrawling down the screen I read, one after another, the passionate messages from fellow Venezuelans claiming that Sanders was very much like Chávez and that the US was now doomed.

As people in Nevada head off to their caucuses, Hillary and Bernie are neck-and-neck there. Once again, many of my fellow Venezuelans made their Facebook voices heard: Sanders was going to destroy America like Chávez destroyed Venezuela.

Sigh. Close screen. Call it a day.

Really? Where to start? I guess we can start from the beginning.

Let’s rewind to 1992. While Hugo Chavez was leading a botched coup d’état against president Carlos Andrés Pérez, the newly elected congressman of Vermont, Bernie Sanders, was passing his first piece of legislation to create a National Program of Cancer Registries.

Some years later, in 1999, only a couple of hours after taking office, Hugo Chávez decided to call a referendum to rewrite a constitution that had preserved an –imperfect but battle-hardened- Venezuelan democracy for 40 years. In less than a year the Venezuelan Senate was dissolved and the presidential term had been extended from 5 to 6 years. Fast forward to 2009; Chávez would change the rules again to allow him to run for re-election indefinitely. By then Sanders had become Senator and was working on regulations for Wall Street designed to help the US recover from the 2008 financial crisis. The end.

Sanders and Chávez couldn’t be farther apart as politicians. Sanders first move after taking office was to institutionalize change that would improve the lives of millions, while Chávez first move was to try to perpetuate himself in power. While one of them respected and used institutions to achieve his goals, the other believed that democratic institutions were a hindrance, and that the achievement of his goals justified the use of force.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I do understand where the comparisons are coming from. Sanders declares himself a “socialist” and –as if that were not enough– a “revolutionary”. If you are not a victim of chavismo you might not understand that these are two terms that have been shunned from the vocabulary of millions of Venezuelans (together with the color red). Then again, Chávez was not a socialist when he got elected. Remember? Arguably, he was never one. Sanders, on the other hand, has always been open about his intentions and consequent with his ideas.

He believes in the Nordic-style, high-tax, high-benefit welfare state.

Are his ideas revolutionary? Not really. Would a Nordic-style welfare state be revolutionary for the US? Yes. Is it possible? Perhaps in the future. Bernie Sanders knows that his so-called revolution will not become a reality in his lifetime. He knows that his “revolution” is equivalent to Barack Obama’s HOPE: It won’t change the structure, but it will mobilize the votes. That’s the tragedy of Bernie Sanders and the reason why I wholeheartedly support Hillary Clinton. But that’s something that we can talk about another time.

Today we are talking about you, fellow Venezuelans, letting Chávez’ legacy cloud your judgment. These comparisons, as mild as they seem, damage our reputation abroad. They make us seem self-centered and shallow. Things that I want to believe we are not.

We were supposed to learn a lesson from all the mess that Chávez left behind. We were supposed to learn that extreme poverty and inequality isolate entire communities from political solutions to their problems. We -of all people- should be able to tell the difference between a left wing politician and an insane hater of institutions. We were not supposed to hate the welfare state. While young people in the world are worrying about improving access to health and education, I wonder what will turn out of us, the young millennials that Chávez left behind.  

170 COMMENTS

  1. he is no chavez, but he has in the past praised Castro’s Cuba and Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. That in itself says a lot about his judgement. We keep giving people a free pass when they praise Castro and other “revolutionaries” in a way we would never do with people who praise dictators like Pinochet.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3281335/Bernie-Sanders-praised-Fidel-Castro-1985-interview-educated-kids-gave-kids-health-care-totally-transformed-society.html

      • While I would hope that you are right, and that the institutions are strong enough to overcome a political megalomaniac genius, I am not so certain. I think that, given the right set of circumstances, even the U.S. could be victim. All the more reason to be vigilant.

        • Sure, I guess that could be a remote possibility, as history has proven.
          From my personal anecdote, living in the USA and Venezuela I can tell you that no society is immune to collective madness.
          That is why I am a huge advocate of election reform.
          We can’t let the low information voters, the crazy ideologues and the manipulative millionaire campaigns destroy Democracy.
          Voting has to be more precious than just a given Right. It needs to be an Earned Privilege.
          I will never get tired of repeating this because is the key to solving most political issues in any Democracy.

          • I hesitantly agree with your premise regarding the vote. However, I don’t think the solution lies in anything as crude as a literacy or knowledge test, and I would never advocate completely disenfranchising any sector of the population. Further, I would especially reject any system that created a new hereditary aristocracy by virtue of that segment of the population’s access to education. I do have some fairly radical ideas about how to accomplish this goal, but this comment thread is already sufficiently incendiary, and I don’t wish to detract from the theme of the post.

          • Roy, I’d be so happy to disfranchise illiterate malandros, all of them.
            Corruption, vandalism, dogmatic ignorance and ideologies based on cult of personality should never have a voice in a civil society.
            They have nothing positive to contribute to a true Democracy as we have witnessed.
            It is just common sense brother.

  2. This discussion is an interesting one and fits the blog very well. Thanks for bringing it up.

    While I understand that Sanders is no Chávez, from my own Venezuelan experience it is hard not to react to the rhetoric trashing the status quo and undermining the merits of the political establishment in the U.S. but also in places like Britain and Spain. Many people get carried away by their disdain towards politicians and political parties and endorse cries to revolutionize things all too quickly, often failing to realize that the institutions in place in these countries are the result of a balance of political forces achieving painstaking compromises. If there’s anything the Venezuelan experience can bring to the table is precisely that resilient appreciation of how valuable such compromises are, how important it is to strike that balance institutionally, working through reform – not revolution – to attain change; and the painful realization of where the alternative might lead.

    In an environment where words are carefully dissected for their meaning, the choice of “revolution” to carry that message is unfortunate in my view – specially coming from someone with no track record of executive office to show. That’s Sanders’ case but also Corbyn’s and Iglesias’ – though the latter two may well rejoice in the Chávez analogy.

    That’s something us Venezuelans can talk surely talk about, if ever we manage to respond – and not react – to propositions like Sanders’.

    • Living in Britain, I am actually struck by how the word ‘revolution’ or any other such radicalisms are absent from Corbyn’s speeches. He is a Chávez sympathizer, yes, and that is really unfortunate and will always be a source of apprehension about him for me that most of my friends in the left will never understand—perhaps sort of similar to how many Jewish leftists feel about some of his pro-Palestinian stances and sharing a platform with really awful radicals on that issue. Yet, YET he remains a really unique and difficult-to-parse figure in American, European and more so Venezuelan terms. As the conservative commentator Peter Hitchens has stated, he is a uniquely British politician. His rhetoric pivots on kindness, niceness and fairness and his low-key rhetoric is far from Iglesias’ or Sanders’, even though their politics may coincide. I do not think he’s being disingenuous or sinister and that’s why I’m wary of these comparisons, the whole Sanders-is-Chávez-is-Iglesias-is-Corbyn-is-x rhetoric among Venezuelans. It is indeed self centered and shallow to see our experience as representative of ALL the new post-Soviet lefts in the world and most of all it is intellectually lazy!

      • You are right about distrusting him. Your friends in the left should know better, as should he. You argue that it’s shortsighted to read all post-Soviet left from the Venezuelan angle; I could well say Corbyn reads the left in Latin America from a squarely British perspective. That’s enough to shatter my confidence, regardless of his candor and his authenticity.

        We don’t need the Corbyns of this world leading our left-of-center parties. There’s been better leadership than his.

  3. Sanders if your typical left wing politician with flexible morals, who claims to be whatever mobilizes voters.

    As for Hillary, I suggest that voting for relatives of living exPresidents is a pretty bad idea. Plus she’s an Usrael lobby creature, which means the Middle East mess will get even worse if she reaches the White House.

    We also have to add her lack of vision regarding the Castro family dictatorship,and how her policy (to kiss Castro’s behind just like Obama does) encourages the Chavista military to build itself a dictatorship…she’s definitely not worth a vote. Neither of those two are worth being elected.

  4. I agree. However much I disagree with Sanders’ political vision (a lot!) he does not have the personality characteristics that made “Chavismo” possible. Donald Trump, on the other hand, does have many similarities to Hugo Chavez: Narcissistic, charismatic, vitriolic, bombastic, hyper-controlling, etc… Think about it… I don’t think you can imagine Bernie Sanders holding a 5-hour “cadena”. But, I’ll bet you can imagine “The Donald” doing one.

    Fascist regimes have originated from many different locations on the political spectrum. I have argued before, and will continue to do so, that Chavismo was/is a form of Fascism. So, I fear a Donald Trump presidency in the U.S. far more than I fear a Bernie Sanders presidency.

    FYI: IMO Bernie Sanders’ vision of a “Nordic-style welfare state” will not work because the U.S. does not have the same cultural homogeneity that the Nordic countries enjoy. It functions (more or less) in those countries because their culture provides enough peer pressure to prevent the systems from being abused to the point of breakdown. The same model will never function in a multi-cultural environment.

    • I don’t always agree with Roy, but I very much agree with Roy here…with the exception of the last point.
      Roy: I think Canada is not that different from the USA with regards to cultural variation and yet the social framework there is much stronger than in the USA.

    • I agree.
      I am a great fan of Los Estados Unidos but for a country so close and so similar to mine, I find their politics completely baffling. It must have something to do with them having had a revolution and a civil war. It is like the traces of those great conflicts live on in peoples DNA.

      • To understand U.S. politics, simplify the two parties into what they essentially represent, which is two core ideas that are both complementary and contradictory at the same time: liberty tinged with equality and equality flavored with liberty.

        That they are so similar is the source of the rancor. That they are so disparate is the reason no one can agree.

        I find myself in a fascinating quandary wherein I will vote for Sanders before Trump, but I will vote for Trump before Clinton. The people that are screwed this election cycle are the moderates since things are so polarized.

  5. Between Trump being a borderline Fascist and Sanders a “revolutionary” populist/socialist. USA is in a dangerous place. I have seen several Venezuelans supporting Trump, which leaves me dumbfounded how they don’t learn.

    Sanders should be treated with same weariness that I treated Chavez in 1999.

    I disagree completed on how you shouldn’t compare Chavez and Sanders. Take Chavez in 1999 translated to english, edit for the vulgarity and you will almost have what Chavaz said word for word.

    In 1999, Chavez was viewed as a hero who stood up against a corruption oligarchy in 1992 and was here again to make the difference and save this country? Sound familiar? Sanders & Trump anyone? The system being “Broken” and how they are the messiah who will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity?

    Chavez and Sanders are being compared because they are both populist catering the most common denominator.

    Lastly, comparing Chavez to other politicians doesn’t make us self-center. Chavez basically started the leftist movement that engulfed almost all of Latin America. Also, plenty of people comparing pass tragedies in their country/their people, like the jews fleeing Nazi Germany and the fall of the Soviet Union, to situations happening currently.

    I support Hilary by process of elimination and you get Bill too. Can’t beat that.

    HISTORY IS DEEMED TO REPEAT ITSELF UNLESS YOU LEARN FROM IT.

  6. Latin Americans don’t have the credibility required to ‘lecture’ whom people should cast their votes for in other countries, unfortunately. And that happens because the local track record is very poor.
    It’s common knowledge that they elect the worst politicians in the world, but they still have the arrogance to say out and loud that they know better than the rest of the world! When, in fact, the best thing they could do on voting days is to stay at home, with the door locked from the outside preferably! Yet they don’t do that, they think that they should be heard, that they should vote, that they should even work at political campaigns!

    Just look at Bergoglio, an Argentinian (!), telling Americans to distrust Donald Trump at the same time that he praises Fidel Castro. That alone explains why Latin America is what it is.

    And given the agglomeration of left-wing half-truths, clichés and rethorical tricks machine-gunned at us in such a small text like Colmenares did, I believe that Venezuelans might very easily elect yet another far-left politician after Maduro is gone. Isn’t “Marea Socialista” considered the second coming of Chavismo, the prophetized “no distorted Chavismo”, with all the present virtues, but not the sins? Pay attention on that political movement because it might be the next big thing indeed. They will try the experiment again.

    The best part is this one, though:

    “We -of all people- should be able to tell the difference between a left wing politician and an insane hater of institutions.”

    Yes, in a perfect world world you should, and you would be able to see that Bernie Sanders is not very different from Chávez ideologically speaking. That Sanders’ revolutionary impetus is only restrained by the American institutions, which are far stronger than the Venezuelan ones. If Chavez were a politician in the US, he wouldn’t be Hugo Chavez either, he would be Bernie Sanders.

    You also make use the classic “too bad to be left-wing” fallacy, which is a variant of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. It seems that an insane hater of institutions can’t possibly be left-wing according to you, what makes you sound like a propagandist not very concerned with the truth… No wonder you are working with Hillary (hehe).

    • Cumpanhêro Marc, thanks for saying pretty much what I was gonna say.

      But honestly, I’ve given up arguing with people that emigrated escaping the consequences of socialist policies, and come to the U.S. and support similar socialist policies. It’s like people moving out of California or NY because of high taxes, coming to Texas and start voting for Democrats.

      “Free” health care, higher education, housing, food, you name it. Free, free, free. All paid for by the half of us via taxes and run by a gigantic bureaucratic and inefficient state that always steps in to fix problems caused by the state itself.

      As for these elections, ANY Republican (including Trump) is way better than a socialist bum who didn’t earn his first paycheck -from the government- until he was 40, or a former first lady that attacked his husband’s mistresses in the old days, blamed a terrorist attack on a YouTube video, and has been caught in more lies that I can remember.

      This year is a turning point for the free world, not only for the U.S. The people will either elect a disastrous Obama’s 3rd term or someone who is guided by the Constitution. The stakes are much higher than policies on gay marriage, abortion or religion. The economy is not in good shape and people on the other side of the world are willing to blow themselves up if they can take us and our families with them.

      I’m an atheist, and I couldn’t care less about a President’s stance on religion or gay marriage.The law already says I’m free to worship anything or nothing at all, and gay marriage will eventually be passed on a state-by-state basis, regardless of the WH.

      Marcela, I hope you waste your vote for Hillary and then waste it again voting for Sanders. And then I hope your party loses the election to Ted Cruz.

      • So Latin Americans living in the U.S. cannot legitimately hold political views that favour the left because of their region’s experience with said politics? They are to embrace the right for the sake of consistency, to become the next anonymous Rubio not to piss off their neighbours with their healthcare-for-all, immigration friendly rhetoric? Bello bello. That’s borderline reactionary, to say the least. The world is not a freaking binary code.

    • “Latin Americans don’t have the credibility required to ‘lecture’ whom people should cast their votes for in other countries,”

      Agree. What’s more, no one, much less a Latin American should investing any credibility whatsoever on anyone who posts/lectures on Facebook. I mean, pull-eeze. Time to grow up, intellectually speaking.

      I agree with Marc on the arrogant set from political hell-holes in disarray (Latin America), claiming to have the last word on reasonably well-managed political cultures (read: the US), where even the strangest political bedfellow will be harnessed by strong institutions, such as the U.S. Congress.

      Who the hell do some people think they are? Delusional? Fantasists?

      That includes “Bergoglio, an Argentinian (!), telling Americans to distrust Donald Trump at the same time that he praises Fidel Castro.”

    • I find it hilarious that Venezuelans escape to US only to elect or help another socialist to become president.

      You already destroyed one country with you poor judgement at the ballot, you want to destroy another one too?

  7. A Canadian academic, Victoria Henderson, said it rather well, I think:

    Victoria L. Henderson I haven’t followed Sanders closely enough to know all of his ins and outs and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t wary. But honestly, I’m sick to death of the Venezuela card. Not least because I feel it detracts from the seriousness of what is going on in Venezuela. It asks people to use Venezuela as a placeholder for an abstract set of ideas one opposes, rather than grappling with the flesh and blood context that makes it what it is.

  8. The status quo in our country is broken, Bernie Sanders revolution is to return the democratic party to the people instead of the eliets.

    • Uhh… where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah! Chavez said exactly the same thing.

      Not that I am worried about Sanders, but do you not recognize populist rhetoric when you hear it?

      • Someone once told me that as a company commander Chavez once said “wake up! wake up! you gotta sh!t shower and shave” . Gee, I remember someone saying that when I was in Basic Training in 1967. Hmmm, connect the dots. (Pedejo).

  9. Who cares if he’s not? The OWS/SJW dweebs who vote him because he’ll pay their college debt and free AmeriKKKa of the chains of white privilege, kyriarchy, microaggression and the Koch brothers? Hell, they’d double down if he were a bleached ass version of the mummy from el CDLM.

    Also, anyone who repeatedly states that “the way forward” is emulating Scandinavian welfarism is shallow at best. That is even more disgraceful for someone who is running for office in the US, a nation that has never been fond of imitating other countries in policy matters. In that sense, I’d say that Sanders looks a lot like a Latin American politician, repeatedly copying ideas from somewhere else because they happen to work over there (one of our worst practices, by the way).

  10. the Nordic model of corporate capitalism with welfare has more or less worked because of the homogeneous and small population. As populations grows on the nordic countries, their deficits have grown steadily and there is a lot of pressure in Finland, Sweden and Norway to restrict some of the welfare coverage.

    • As someone who worked in Finland for a year and half, recently, I would also point out that cronyism is rampant in their economic system. Finland is particularly bad, but I have been told that Norway and Sweden are nearly as bad. The only difference from the cliche of real decisions being made powerful rich men in smoke-filled back rooms, is that the real decisions are made by powerful rich men in the sauna.

  11. Welcome, Marcela. When you say Chávez was not a socialist, you sound like someone who doesn’t understand Chávez OR socialism. But welcome anyway …

      • A very long time ago, what Venezuelans LIKED about Chavez was his “candor and authenticity”. By the time everyone realized that he was a liar, it was too late.

        That is not to say that I agree that Sanders is another Chavez in the making. I do not agree with that premise for other reasons that I have stated above.

  12. As I have been telling other fellow Venezuelans, We can insist in establishing a direct causal relationship between Sander’s socialism and the Venezuelan mess, but by doing this we are assigning responsability a priori. Moreover, in absence of a better explanation, we run the risk of coming across as a whiny arrogant bunch, who demand literate citizens to suspend their own experience based on our paranoia.

  13. Frankly, the real equivalency is between Donald Trump and Hugo Chavez. Both are:

    – prone to bombastic statements
    – thin skinned
    – outright liars
    – megalomaniacs
    – educated in military style (Trump attended a military high school)

    The list goes on…

    Bernie and Hugo Chavez are night and day. You can judge Bernie on whether or not you want the US to be like Denmark and whether or not you want taxes to go up to fund the welfare state. But you can’t judge Bernie on whether or not he wants the US to be like Venezuelan dystopia. Your choice.

    I’m with Marcela on this.

  14. One of the legacies of Chavismo is that it has hardened positions, especially reactionary ones. So is important to keep in mind that many picking up on this witch-hunt like trend, are more concerned with pushing forward a conservative agenda than bringing light to the discussion.

    • Yeah, right. That ever-progressive Venezuelan of yore, who metamorphosed from a passive copeyano beatico into a gun-toting, Bible-bashing Republican… all thanks to Chiabe!

      It amazes me that people have forgotten how old and widespread Venezuelan radicalism is (especially the left-wing kind).

      • Nothing wrong with pushing a conservative agenda, specially if you are a conservative. It is dishonest to use the Venezuelan tragedy as bait to support and argument against all forms of socialism.

        • “It is dishonest to use the Venezuelan tragedy as bait to support and argument against all forms of socialism.” So are you going to say that what Chávez implemented in Venezuela and Maduro is continuing isn’t really socialism? Isn’t that real socialism? I would argue is the “realest” of all forms of socialism.

          • Chavez embraced form of socialism, nonetheless a retrograde form of it, rhetorically wasn’t so different to the Cuban communism, it actually relied on Russian/Cuban techniques of population control. Most of it is comes from there, in my opinion, and is not what socialism is. See? so many things happen to socialism after the second world war; socialism picked up from different global revolutions; the civil right movement, the feminist revolution, sexual revolution of the west coast, ‘Le French May” etc. Stuff that has been embraced by liberal democracy. Assuming that you have listen to chavismo or Cuban rhetoric long enough, you must be aware that they equate liberal values with bourgeois values, and this, Diego, this is a crucial point. There is a clear distinction that is not mentioned by conservative critics, which is not surprising, since they can’t care less about liberal values. On the other hand, according to recent piece in the New York Times most of Sanders supporters are liberal,not radical leftist, they college educated, literate citizens, who embrace the values of liberal democracy, autonomy of institutions, a strong legal system, freedom of speech etc. Today in Venezuela, when people complain about the the lack of institutional autonomy in Venezuela, Maduro tells you with a straight face “the Bolivarian Revolution is not Bourgeois democracy”. Now, Diego, it makes total sense to me that if you don’t care about liberal values, you won’t see the difference between Sanders and Fidel/Chavez, but believe me, those who oppose the Venezuelan/Cuban Tyranny, and embrace liberal values, can see a sharp difference.

          • Dear Venezuelan friends — I suspect Regina and I would disagree on a number of things. HOWEVER, she is pretty accurately described the situation here in the United States in terms of what is happening in the Democratic Party. Again, you must understand the last 30 years of economic and political history in the U.S. to understand WHY Sanders (and even Trump) are so popular right now.

            I am a liberal capitalist — a school of thought, practice and belief that used to be very popular and quite successful around the world. In the United States, I doubt that no more than 5% of the voters would consider themselves socialists. Regina is correct — Sanders’ supporters are liberal capitalists. They are tired of crony capitalism. I don’t know of any Sanders supporters who want “socialism” — just a return to something resembling liberal capitalism and NOT CRONY capitalism.

            Because the Democratic (and Republican) Parties have fully embraced neo-liberal economics for 30 years, this is what we get: Sanders on the rise. I am 57 and I remember when it was easier to get a good education and to get ahead in the United States. Americans are pissed off. As with voters in any country, when the system rewards crony capitalism and corruption, you will get a reaction.

            And here we are.

  15. Venezuelans and their love for far left politics… Sigh.

    Bernie is a self declared socialist who enjoyed his honeymoon in the Soviet Union.

    That should be enough to alarm any human being with basic knowledge of history. And for Venezuelans, who have already seen what a revolutionary socialist government looks like, supporting Bernie would be tantamount to proudly declaring that they haven’t learned their lesson.

  16. “Chávez was not a socialist when he got elected. Remember? Arguably, he was never one.”

    Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY? No true scotsman? Let me help you there, Castro was not a socialist, nor was Lenin, Stalin nor Mao, because, well, we all know cientific socialism never came true but just “real socialism”, and real socialism is not real socialism.

  17. These kind of comparisons gives you an idea of how low is the quality of the political discourse here in the USA.
    I am disappointed that out of the thousands of potentially more qualified people in the American talent pool we are left to choose between geriatric Senators passed the age of retirement and a narcissistic billionaire, equally old, who believes that Global Warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese!. Go figure…

    These kind of things are possible because of the deeply flawed and naive mechanism in Democracy called Universal Suffrage. Big enabler of ignorance, fear, blind simplistic ideologies, tribalism, polarization and manipulations.
    If we think of Democracy as an App it would be crashing all the time, ridden with Bugs, Malware and Virus(Chavismo anyone?). The worst part is that it never gets updated to get fixed.
    While the USA still remains functional it has mild signs of decay and seems drifting slowly into a Plutocracy and Political gridlock.

    The World would be a much better place if Democracies would come to their senses and manage somehow to get rid of low information voters yet maintain legitimate representation. That simple compromise would change everything !
    Because it shouldn’t be about Charisma but Competence.

    You can tell something is wrong when even China, not a Democracy is getting ahead, at least in terms of Economy and Politics. They simply don’t have to deal with the hysteria, the BS and the gridlock that goes on with deeply polarizing populist systems.

    Sanders or Hillary? That is a difficult question. Sanders seems exciting but riskier, Hillary seems more pragmatic but her lack of vision turns me off.
    I am not enthusiastic for none of them.
    The choices could have been much better.

    • You keep mentioning “low information voters”.

      “The World would be a much better place if Democracies would come to their senses and manage somehow to get rid of low information voters yet maintain legitimate representation. That simple compromise would change everything !”

      Ok, if it’s simple then explain how you do this.

      • If the goal of suffrage is to select the more capable candidate for the job, then it is obvious that something is really dysfunctional judging by the results in Venezuela and other Democracies where Universal Suffrage is practiced.
        The reality is that Economics, Politics, Sociology, Foreign Affairs, etc are complex subjects that the average citizen don’t understand. First because most are not interested and second because even if they were there is not enough hours in you life to study them.
        I know, I have an uncle with a PHD in Chemistry, he was always busy working for Pequiven but rarely have time to read the news. He voted for Chavez thinking he would be the next Perez Jimenez equivalent. Go figure!
        We have to reform the electoral process in recognition to this fact and establish certain minimum standards to reduce the negative impact of low information voters.
        It shouldn’t be complicated. Many things can be done. You could qualify voters going through something similar to the drivers license or at the time of voting you can ask them to match policies with the candidates A, B, C to make sure that they are aware what they are voting for and did their duty or proper research..
        Another baffling aspect is Candidate Qualification, just the fact that for the most important job on the land there are no formal Educational or Experience requirements is amusing.
        No surprise we ended up with a Bus driver as President while Lawyers and Economist are driving buses for a living.
        I dont know about you but I find all this situation alarming to say the least.
        The alternative is the status quo which is totally unacceptable and ironically in the end doesn’t represent the best interest of most people.
        Ignoring this issue is denial or amount to intellectual dishonesty.

        • “I know, I have an uncle with a PHD in Chemistry, he was always busy working for Pequiven but rarely have time to read the news. He voted for Chavez thinking he would be the next Perez Jimenez equivalent. Go figure!”

          Wasn’t Chavez an admirer of Perez Jimenez? IIRC, he wanted Perez Jimenez to be present at his inauguration. So maybe your uncle was not entirely foolish. (Not that voting for Chavez wasn’t foolish, but his reasoning may have had some basis.)

          • He might admired PJ, but Chavez and him were totally different almost like night and day. Sure, PJ was also authoritarian, but it was pragmatic in his policies and on the Center Right of the political spectrum. He never expropriated nor attached the private sector, had no problem with free market economics and never instigated a class warfare. In fact PJ actually built the current UCV which is a free tuition University and many low cost Residential projects for the poor. Where Maduro grew up BTW. The PJ regime was probably also the less corrupted administration in the modern era. During his time Venezuela had one of the most prosperous periods so much so that Italians, Spaniards and Colombians were immigrating to our country. Most of Venezuela current infrastructure remains testament to his legacy.
            PJ regime was all about the rule of law and stability. The big flaw was that it was a dictatorship.
            When he was deposed he ended up in Miami, which speaks volumes about how friendly USA was to him.
            As history shows, after PJ, comes Democracy with its noble, but deeply flawed open wide Universal Suffrage and things started to get messy descending into the current Populist Gang Anarchy we have now.
            My uncle was totally wrong and uninformed.

          • Dictatorships have essentially no respect for the rule of law. If we can’t agree on that simple precept in this blog, the prospects of democracy in our troubled country look rather grim to me.

          • Yuruan, that would be an oxymoron, if there is no rule of law, there is no Dictatorship, just Anarchy.
            The crime rate under the PJ regime was very low. The streets were safe and people have the freedom to go out at night anywhere, no fear. Houses and Apartments didn’t look like today’s jail cells or bird cages!

          • Go speak about the respect Pérez Jiménez had for the rule of law to the people that survived Guasina. And by the way, “open wide universal suffrage” is pretty much the whole point of modern democracy. Last time I checked we were in the XXI century.

          • Sure PJ Dictatorship was not perfect but there is no comparison with the number of deaths currently in Venezuela. You can’t dispute that simple fact. PJ regime was a compromise that people who lived back them were willing to take, even to this day.

            Universal Suffrage is not the whole point of Democracy. It is just a means to an end. A tool.
            Hell, even Democracy shouldn’t be considered an end to itself, is just a system of governance and is not perfect.
            Obviously it needs reform because it doesn’t work as it is.

            The expansion of voting rights in the USA in the 20th Century is a relatively new phenomenon that everyone copied. That mantra has been preached ever since and even planted in many Middle East countries with disastrous consequences as we now know.

            Ask Egypt, Lybia and Iran how Suffrage worked for them.
            Egypt turned to Dictatorship once again to save itself from a Muslim Caliphate.
            Lybia is in complete chaos and Iran ended up in a Theocracy which is the expected outcome for a country full of devoted Muslims!

  18. First things first. To the majority of U.S. Republicans Venezuelans are Latino immigrants and they loathe you. Most of them don’t hold a passport, have never even visited Canada or Mexico — let alone South America or Europe. It’s a sweeping generalization but I grew up among the people who have taken over the Republican Party — I know a great deal about which I write. To these people in the Republican Party, a Venezuelan with a PhD and $500,000 in the bank is no different from a Honduran who enters the country illegally and is is illiterate. To those of you who think your middle class or upper middle class background will truly make you part of their party or group — you are fooling yourself. As for Sanders, more on that later. By the way, I am married to a Venezuelan immigrant, have numerous family members and friends who are part of the diaspora and now live in other countries. I despise the current government, Chavismo, and how those people have destroyed Venezuela, So, please, don’t accuse me of being a left-wing troll.

    • I don’t think anyone here aspires to become a card-carrying Republican. This isn’t 1985 and we’re not like Cuban exiles, who claim particular reasons for supporting the GOP and despising the Democrats.

      In the end it’s a matter of distrust, and finding out who inspires the most. In fact, Venezuelans aren’t that wary of those who claim to be socialist, but of those who, like Sanders, try to pass as moderates or “not that kind of socialist”… because that’s exactly what Chávez did in 1998.

      • Actually, there are a couple in this thread who see themselves as above the rest and are eager to rejoin what we used to call the “Country Club Set” of WASPs in the United States. Some of those old Republicans who came from “old money” were not bad people, and they understood that with wealth and power came obligation — the Rockefellers, Papa Bush, etc. Those people are gone. GONE. They have no influence in the Republican Party. They recognized that when the wealthy took took much of the pie that there would be problems — something the wealthy in Venezuela overlooked.

        Now, I am NOT a socialist — just an old-fashioned FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) Liberal. I don’t want to nationalize anything. What I do want is affordable education (universities), health care, etc. I know that NOTHING is free — everyone will pay taxes. The question is whether the truly wealthy will pay their fair share.

        I am 57 years old. I have seen the labor unions destroyed in America. I have seen the cost of public universities skyrocket to become almost unaffordable to working-class people (let alone private universities)., Why? Americans became convinced that all taxes were bad. The result? State governments no longer adequately fund universities through tax dollars — in turn tuition for students has skyrocketed. The result: Students and their parents go heavily into debt just to go to a public university.

        This is what is driving the movement behind Sanders — and to some degree Trump (even though that angle makes no sense to me). My Venezuelan friends, unless you know how the middle class and working classes in the United States have been screwed for 30-plus years (starting with Reagan), you cannot possibly understand what is happening with our politics this year — or the rise of Sanders and Trump.

        One more time: I loathe Chavismo, the current government, and the destruction of Venezuela. I am married to a Venezuelan immigrant who came from the middle class. And I am not a socialist.

        More later.

        • “My Venezuelan friends, unless you know how the middle class and working classes in the United States have been screwed for 30-plus years (starting with Reagan), you cannot possibly understand what is happening with our politics this year — or the rise of Sanders and Trump.”

          Or understand it all too well perhaps… 🙁

          • Yes, you are very right in many ways. For example, my spouse (and several Venezuelan family members and friends) say that Trump reminds them of Chavez in terms of his personality. And even the liberal ones are dismayed by Sanders’ use of the word “revolution” — because revolutions usually end badly somehow. Evolution is always better.

    • Good point Mr. Liberal. There is a lot political iliteracy, and straight forward conservatism. From that point to view this kinds of discussions seem futile. Many here, concerned with the Venezuelan issue are also conservative, who sadly use the Venezuelan predicament to push forward conservative agendas. Once you know what their stance is on women rights, LGBT rights, migration reform, racism, then all makes sense. Just for the sake of symmetry, I just hope that somewhere in the internet there is a forum in which republican fans are being demanded to prove that their leaders are not going to turn into fascist dictators.

      • Yes, I imagine some of the Venezuelan Republican wanna-bes are extremely right-wing on social issues. It was the same with the first Cubans who came to Miami. Their conservatism went far beyond anti-communism.

      • Regina, Venezuela is not a mess today because Chávez has not embraced “LGBT rights”. Give-me-a-break with your typical leftist “he’s not a real left-winger” bullshit.

    • To the majority of U.S. Republicans Venezuelans are Latino immigrants and they loathe you. Most of them don’t hold a passport, have never even visited Canada or Mexico — let alone South America or Europe.

      Your sneering, self-righteous remark illustrates one reason why I changed from a progressive of the left into an evil right-winger. An addition reason for my political change was my reaction to a book I purchased in Venezuela, Del Buen Salvaje al Buen Revolucionario, written by the Venezuelan journalist Carlos Rangel. It can be found in English translation at Google books: The Latin Americans: Their Love-Hate Relationship with the United States. What I observed on the ground in Latin America did not fit the progressive catechism on Latin America I learned at university in the US. Rangel’s book helped crystallize some of my observations.

      It’s a sweeping generalization but I grew up among the people who have taken over the Republican Party — I know a great deal about which I write.
      By comparison, I grew up in an environment which had more than a few self-styled progressives of the left. Several peers were red diaper babies. The parents of childhood friends were friends with Camilo Torres, the Colombian Priest-Guerilla. At the same time, there were a number of Iron Curtain refugees where I grew up who, though small in number, were in disproportionate numbers compared to other places. When working in Latin America, I knew some Iron Curtain refugees from Hungary, including two co-workers.The Cold War was not fiction for me.

      I first voted Republican in reaction to the support of many prominent Democrats, Bernie Sanders included, for the Sandinistas. There was ample evidence that the Sandinistas were lapdogs of Soviet imperialism, such as Sandinista support for the USSR’s progressive transformation of Afghanistan [a.k.a. invasion]. Sandinista support for such “progressive transformation” didn’t concern Bernie Sanders or other prominent Democrats, but it did concern me.

      It takes all kinds.

      • It seems you have ignored 95% of everything I have written here today in my comments. I despise ideologues of the left as much (if not more) than those of the right. All of my life, I have called out left-wing apologists for communism and totalitarianism.

        As for what the Republican Party has become in terms of its hatred of immigrants, I hope you never experience the prejudice that too many people do. I grew up out in the middle of the United States, and I have close ties to people there. In addition, I used to work for a company filled with very right-wing people — they would say things to me and in front of me because they just assumed I was “one of them” — without thinking about my Venezuelan family by marriage.

        You may be shocked to learn that I used to vote for Republicans in general elections when I felt they were the better choice, and the times called for moderation and restraint in government.

        My friend, I hope you understand what the Republican Party has become in the United States: a proto-fascist party. That was never a term I used until the last couple of years. It is a term that self-congratulating leftists love to throw out at anyone who disagrees with them — hence my dismay at having to use the term.

        Finally, perhaps you are a proto-fasicst. I don’t know. If so, I doubt we have much to discuss. If you are simply a conservative, then we would would have much to discuss.

        • It seems you have ignored 95% of everything I have written here today in my comments.

          I wrote what I considered to be an appropriate response to what I quoted from your comments. For example, contrary to what you implied, your remark about passports and foreign travel holds for most Democrats as well as for most Republicans. Do the math. I would also consider it smug and self-righteous to call the Republicans a “proto-fascist party,” so you are merely supporting what I had previously written. I would add that, contrary to your opinion, hatred and bigotry -a.k.a. fear of the other- are not found exclusively on one side of the political aisle. So say both what I have read and my conversations with both sides of the political aisle. Many Democrats believe that their excrement has no odor, so I view “smug, self-righteous” as quite an appropriate label.

          Regarding my comment about my political change, recall what I wrote: ‘It takes all kinds.” We came from different backgrounds, and came to different political conclusions. That is the point I was trying to make.

          Ciao.

          • Respectfully, why are you trying so hard to pretend there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican party when it comes to hispanic affairs? There is an enormous difference. The Democrats may have their useful idiots and crypto-racists, but only the Republicans have made anti-immigration and veiled racism such a prominent cornerstone of their campaigning for the past few years. The illegal immigration debate is a total farce. We all know damn well an “illegal” can be (a) an illegal immigrant from central america (b) a Mexican-American living in Arizona with family roots that pre-date the Gadsten Purchase) (c) a fully American Puerto Rican or (d) a Venezuelan recently relocated to Miami. The country is awash in Spanish names for geographical features and political borders, yet many Americans seem to think all the hispanics showed up last week. And the Republicans are making a great show of casting the “illegal” as the pernicious other. This is the most vile I’ve ever seen it in my 30 years living in the U.S.

        • All of my life, I have called out left-wing apologists for communism and totalitarianism.

          I would be interested in your opinion of Bernie Sanders’s support of the Sandinistas, given that the Sandinistas expressed their support of the Soviet Union’s “progressive transformation” of Afghanistan, a.k.a. the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

          • Naive at best, troubling for sure. While we are on the subject, are you, per chance, an admirer of the late Margaret Thatcher?

      • There is no takes all kinds argument to be made here. Let’s be dead clear about something, and I say this as a Venezuelan and an American: Ignorance about other cultures has always been a broadly American problem. It’s not necessarily a left or a right problem and I am in agreement with you there.

        But while I may be annoyed at a liberal friend’s insistence that everything must look just like a fair trade coffee ad in Starbucks, and hence if you wear dress shoes and drive to work in Latin America you’re somehow the ruling class (seriously! I’ve heard this said) the bulk of my ire is STILL reserved for the Republicans. And I’ll tell you why.

        The Republicans are the only party that have gone OUT OF THEIR WAY to marginalize hispanics and treat them as a pariah, through the dog whistle of illegal immigration. It’s a problem for all of us who live in the U.S. that a major political party is so fervently embracing racism as a means to organize voters. There’s no denying this, there is no denying the Republicans are doing this to a degree that goes far and beyond any casual racism on the left. The drumbeat is pervasive, and its only in recent years have I been yelled at for speaking Spanish by a passerby, or because of my white skin had other people say horrifically racist things to my face about other hispanics not being aware that they were standing in the presence of one. These things have happened in my life before, but not with the frequency and degree that they do today, and I blame contemporary GOP rhetoric for the rise in that alone.

        • The current demographics in the US are such that is almost impossible for Republicans to get the Presidency.
          That is the reason why after the 2008 elections they decided to plant Hispanic and Black candidates, which made little effect since it doesn’t seem genuine. It doesn’t work that way, It is just a facelift.
          This is why Jeb Bush with his Hispanic wife was the preferable candidate for the Republican establishment.
          The Republican Party brought itself to this corner with their over reliance on manipulation of the gullible to get their votes and affiliation. That has left them fragmented which has opened the space for the tea party and later the Trump phenomenon. Among other things.
          Trump or anybody can’t win the general elections without the Black, and Brown support. Is that simple.

    • I like the ideals of the GOP (free enterprise, self reliance, pro-life, etc). However, I do not like some of the characters of the party. Prior to Trump, how I have reconciled this has been by voting for the GOP at a national level and democratic party at the local level. If Trump ends up in the ballot then I’m going to have to rethink my strategy. About Sanders, I have a serious distrust for free stuff, I see it as purchasing the vote and dangerous slippery slope. With the U.S. in debt to the tune of 19 trillion, I’m concerned there is not much more to give away.

    • “To the majority of U.S. Republicans Venezuelans are Latino immigrants and they loathe you.”

      Yes, they loath Latinos and probably blacks too but somehow 44.8% of them in South Carolina voted for a Latino and 7.2% for a black. In other words, 52% of them voted for people that they supposedly loath. This is SOUTH CAROLINA, by the way. Besides, I’m not an American citizen or live there, but I think it’s best to vote for the party that will improve your country, not to the one whose ellectors supposedly like your national origin more.

      “Most of them don’t hold a passport, have never even visited Canada or Mexico — let alone South America or Europe.”

      A good measure of how developed your country is that a person not having a passport is considered weird. Besides, let stop with this ridiculous myth that democrats are “smart” people. Every poll show that the Republican ellectorate is more educated in average than the Democrat.

      “I know a great deal about which I write. To these people in the Republican Party, a Venezuelan with a PhD and $500,000 in the bank is no different from a Honduran who enters the country illegally and is is illiterate.”

      No do Democrats, as you prove again, by trying to convince a person with PhD and $500,000 in the bank that they’re actually poor little victims of the evil Republicans. Maybe I’m a person with too much pride but Democrats victimization speech is a huge turn off to me.

    • By the way, coming back to your “Republicans hate Latinos” talk… Believe me, a lot of people here in Latin America, me included, have already listened a lot about this. Except that we were the evil ones. These whites, oligarchs, ‘apátridas’, racists, pitty-yankees who hate the poor, the people, their country, the indians, the blacks, whatever. This kind of cheap talk has helped to elect the biggest asshole in Latin America political history. Chávez, of course, being just one of them. I’m not excited by it.

  19. Best way to stop a Venezuelan going on about American politics is to say….but you guys elected Chavez. Then you have to listen to the no I didn’t, it wasn’t me to which the rejoinder is…..I lived over 15 years in Venezuela and met thousands of Venezuelans and no one claims to have elected Chavez, he just magically appeared.

  20. Government control of the economy is what impoverished and corrupted your country. I am an American that has been watching with horror what happened to your country for the last 12 years through English blogs like this one. Your country is an object lesson to us in what happens when the government has the power to control the economy. It is like being able to watch the destruction of Russia or Cuba in real time.

    Sanders is not a persuasive thug like Chavez was, but if he still manages to spread his ideas to people it will be just as destructive to my country. You mention his support of high benefits for the poor. Please enlighten me how the poor in Venezuela have benefited – in the long run – under such a redistribution of wealth, because everything I have read is about how they have suffered more in the long run. Don’t tell me that it’s a problem of “how it was done” in Venezuela, because Venezuela is not special, it is exactly the same as the US or any other country filled with human beings. Read “The Road to Serfdom” to see the path from economic controls leading to corruption.

    The Democratic party in the US is very bad on the subject of economic controls by the government. Their opposition, the Republican party, is only moderately less bad and on government controls of social issues they are usually worse. So pick your poison. But to say Sanders is not so bad, on the economics, is to say you have not been paying attention to your own country for your entire life and WHY it is a mess. It is not culture, it is not the people in charge, it is not corruption or crime. All of those problems are the effects, caused by the government’s control on the economy.

    • Anonymous, according to your hypothesis China should be a poor country, but it isn’t.
      Not only that. You seem to forget the lesson of the 2008 Financial Crisis, because of lack of Government regulation and oversight.

      Unfortunately, there is really no magic formula here or perfect ideology.
      If there is one, it boils down to this –> Competence.
      I would even argue that is possible to have a Totalitarian Dictatorship that works really well for everybody as long as you have competent leaders. Obviously such a system would be extremely risky but is just an example and we have seems something like those through history.

      As most things in life, you can be successful by using different approaches and strategies, depending on your situation, resources etc. But the most important thing is that you have to know what you are doing.
      And this applies to everything from Governments, Private Companies or single individuals.

      • China was extremely poor prior to the late 1980s. They couldn’t even feed themselves and were starving to death during some years. Their reforms were to ease the government controls on the economy and allow private ownership of production. They continued this over time and now are the second biggest economy in the world. That they still have too much government control of the economy, and have the corruption to go along with it, does not refute my point.

        The 2008 financial crisis in the US was not a simple case of “lack of government oversight”, but was more complex than that. I think you know that if you are informed about it, and are simply trying to sum up what you think is the big picture – fair enough. However I will give you some food for thought. Suppose that instead of a bipartisan bailout of the financial institutions, those institutions had simply been allowed to fail and go through bankruptcy. Would there still be today such large and vulnerable financial institutions? After seven years of increased government oversight, the situation is not improved in my own opinion. The banks are all bigger now than they used to be and even more vulnerable to whatever the next systemic problem will be.

        No amount of government competence can replace a free market punishing or rewarding people for their mistakes or successes. Perverting those incentives will lead to corruption and economic disaster. In my own view, those incentives were perverted by government controls prior to the financial crisis and helped create it and make it worse, and again afterward prevented the banks from being allowed to fail, which is the free market’s corrective mechanism. You don’t need magically competent government to do that, and most of the time those people in charge will just be co-opted anyway. That is where the corruption comes from. It is human nature.

        • You forgot to mention that when you look at gdp per capita, China is still a poor country… People get confused by rate of growth and size of economy, but what matters is gdp per capita.

        • Well, I am not against free market. In fact I am a big fan of it. It really can do marvels by itself.
          Also agree with you that it was after the reforms in China that brought all that prosperity even though they still have lots of controls. I mentioned that to prove my point.
          But you are painting laze-affair capitalism and small government as if the solution to most problems it isn’t.
          The bailout was the least lethal of the poisons we had to take. No serious Economist have advocated for let them fail. Unfortunately, they were just too big to fail.

          Now, let me give you another example. Sometimes it is highly beneficial to have a proactive big Government like in the case of the USA Space Exploration Program in the 60’s that brought us to the Moon and all that incredibly spinned-off technology.
          Another example, most of the Computer Industry in the USA Intel, IBM, Silicon Valley have its roots in Defense contracts paid for the Government. We have Apple and Google and the Internet because of that !
          Same with the Panama Canal and the Transcontinental Railways. That wouldn’t have been possible without the concentration of wealth and power that only the US Government have had.
          So as you can see is not as simply as you put it.
          Yes I believe the Government has to be efficient and nimble but there is a lot to be said about the positive things that only big proactive Governments can achieve.
          As you can see Big Government can be a curse or a blessing !
          It all depends on how you use it.

          • I accept that those “Big Government” programs have had major benefits, however I think they also came with major costs. Not just the cost of each program, but also the cost of having a government large enough to do them and what other negative things such a government has done. For example, the war in Vietnam at the same time as landing on the moon. Much of the cost is unseen because we will never see what people would have been able to do with more of their own money (go to college, have a nicer home, a larger consumer market for new electronics or medicines etc) instead of giving it to NASA. But, like with whether to let the banks fail would have been better or worse in the long run, we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

  21. To be clear, I have zero love for the current crop of Republican candidates. I am also a bit surprised that we’re talking American politics today instead of Venezuelan politics, but there’s a time for everything. It has irritated me to no end the American habit of framing Venezuela’s grief in purely American terms. Moreso, there’s a very ugly schadenfreude that accompanies this habit and it goes like this:

    “Haha. Look at Bernie Sander’s socialist paradise of Venezuela go down in flames. Elect a socialist and this is what you get you libtards!” (heavily paraphrasing)

    The left is not much better. If you want to find the very worst useful idiots and regime apologists, they all currently have Feel the Bern! bumper stickers. This sadly, is not a reflection of Sanders himself. But there is a solid contingent of his supporters who in my opinion can go jump in a lake.

    Moving to Sanders himself, he’s an OK fellow but can at times strike me a scold with an inflexible mind. And a deep isolationist who only concerns himself with things he can be bothered to be curious about. This does not include Latin America, which he would quickly write off as the CIA’s former playground and something US foreign policy can not touch with a ten foot pole. As an American, I don’t think he’d be a bad president for America. As a Venezuelan, I think you would find him disengaged, incurious, and otherwise no friend at all to the Venezuelan people.

  22. Ideologies are a dangerous distraction. You can easily see today’s world fault lines dividing democratic and non-democratic states. Chavismo is fascism in that sense, left or right don’t mean anything. Look carefully at the people, not the party, not the flags; all the symbols of sovereignty are so easily hijacked and manipulated. All in the name of power, control and personal enrichment.

  23. I think Sanders shares some of the same irrational and emotional hate towards corporations and capitalism that caused Chávez to wreck havoc on the productivity of the country. Of course there is no paralelism in the sense that Chávez was a military coupster and Sanders and senator who has never tried to ilegally overthrow a government, but socialism is not identified with modern liberal democracy (which was born in the capitalist west) Socialism, if I maybe oversimpliflyng implies for people like Sanders and Chavismo (both populist leftist ideologies if they can be called that) less protection of property rights and economic freedoms and a deep distrust of the private sector and more control from the state.

  24. He is not like Chávez. Period. But people can question his ideas. And after 17 years of socialism, you can’t really ask someone here not to be cautious of someone who openly declares himself as a socialist.

  25. You should read “Road to serfdom” and then realize that couldn´t be Chavez´s without the bernie´s before him. There is no diference between broke your country in a dictatorship way or in a democratic way, what can we conclude by your article, that he is not a Chavez but a Zapatero? Socialism is not better if is democratic, is just another and slower way to get a society of parasites.

  26. Of course, Sanders is no Chavez. But Chavez was no Castro either, who in turn was quite diferent from Mao, who was obviously no Stalin… But if you do not understanding that elevating the state as the answer to all problems leads you to economic ruin at best and genocide at worst, I think you should have pais a litle bit more of attention to the last 100 years of history…

  27. We should try and encourage more people to donate money to CC..

    Otherwise they will continue churning articles by communist apologists like this one.

    • You can also stop pretending you are the owner of the site; I donate to it and I find it spot on.

      And your opinion of who is or not a communist sympatizer is something I would pay even more money not to read. But here we are, so deal with the fact that you have to manage and see stuff from people you dont agree with.

  28. This was an interesting.post. By the way, I’m an American married to a Venezuelan and thereby I have family in Venezuela whose situations are among my preoccupations. I pity Venezuela. It’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Sanders is more or less an FDR liberal, but the politics here in the USA are so far right that it would take a revolution just to have a new New Deal..

    Sanders and in a different way Trump are capturing the imaginations of that American majority that’s been mercilessly screwed over since the last US marine jumped onto that helicopter that took off from the roof of the US Saigon embassy.

    With $300,000,000,000 to $450,000,000,000 stolen and stashed abroad Venezuela is not any kind of Socialist country. I think just maybe Marea Socialista touches the same raw nerve on both sides of the Venezuelan divide.
    @ecsredeye

    • Old-fashioned FDR Liberal, you might be interested in what old friend Eugene Weixel has written in his Please Don’t Vomit in the Taxi blog.

      Over the last sixteen years millions of Venezuelans have been lifted out of poverty and the consumption of meat has increased greatly. The Chavista government has accomplishments in the international arena as well, spearheading a movement towards cooperation, development and eventual unification of Latin America. Also w
      After the collapse of the Soviet Union Cuba was in dire straights. Aid initiated by President Chavez rescued Cubans from hunger and deprivation. Pan Latin American nationalists and leftists may tend to overlook failures and shortcomings of the Venezuelan government in light of these acts.

      Like I said, it takes all kinds.

      • PS for the sake of accuracy here is the entire post I wrote, typos and all. Context matters, liar.
        es-
        Sunday, February 22, 2015
        Venezuela Is Between A Rock And A Hard Place And That Saddens Me.

        Violence in Chacao, a wealthy district in Caracas. : An unarmed Venezuelan Airforce Sergeant was attacked by “pro US pro democracy peaceful protesters”: http://youtu.be/Ff1RAyW9aSY

        Some of you know that my wife is Venezuelan and that I recently returned from a three months long visit there. I am in love with the place, its natural beauty, its unmet promise of a better way for humanity, its kind and generous people. There are people there who I consider family and about whom I care.

        I follow reports and blogs that reflect both the government and opposition points of view. I am painfully aware of the corruption within the Chavista ruling circles, something that is denounced by many Venezuelans who weigh the shortcomings against both the accomplishments and the idealistic vision and possibilities and refuse to go to the side of the opposition, but who find themselves and their country to be between a rock and a hard place.

        Now, Venezuela is a nation sharply divided that is undergoing trials and tribulations. Everyone who follows international events knows about the long lines at retail stores and the shortages of some staple foods and personal necessities as well as the almost runaway inflation. A year ago the country was racked by violent demonstrations the course of which took 43 lives, mostly government supporters and security personnel.

        The government says that it has uncovered a plot backed by the authorities in the United States. The US government ridicules and dismisses the allegation, as though only conspiracy theorists could ever entertain the notion that the US government would ever try to interfere and steer events in a smaller, weaker country.

        Eleven military officers are under arrest for allegedly plotting to fly a Tucan military airplane over Caracas, bomb the president’s residence in order to kill him, bomb both pro and anti government marches in order to spread panic and to read off an announcement that a new government is in place. This announcement allegedly having been written in the US embassy in Caracas. A couple of days ago security forces arrested Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, who joins another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, in custody. The day prior to the allegedly planned aerial assault these leaders had issued a statement describing a planned transitional government and program of privatisation and the seeking of credit from the US dominated International Monetary Fund. The government promises it will produce the necessary evidence to convict the alleged conspirators in a court of law.

        Since Colonel Hugo Chavez was Elected President in 1999 the government has prevailed in 18 out of 19 elections and referenda, sometimes by overwhelming margins: sometimes and just barely winning.

        Public feedback Both polls show President Maduro and opposition violence Constitution, that was endorsed in a popular vote, allows the opposition to petition for a recall vote against President Maduro. Such a vote took place with the goal of removing the late Hugo Chavez and it got repudiated by the voters. With a strong opposition presence in the media and the unpopularity of President Maduro it would seem that if the opposition were competent and trusted it could remove President Maduro by lawful and peaceful means. By launching a series of riotous actions last year under the rubric ” La salida,” (“The exit” of President Maduro) and announcing a new government and governing program without succeeding in placing a recall vote onto the ballot the opposition has lent credibility to the coup plot charges.

        Over the last sixteen years millions of Venezuelans have been lifted out of poverty and the consumption of meat has increased greatly. The Chavista government has accomplishments in the international arena as well, spearheading a movement towards cooperation, development and eventual unification of Latin America. Also w
        After the collapse of the Soviet Union Cuba was in dire straights. Aid initiated by President Chavez rescued Cubans from hunger and deprivation. Pan Latin American nationalists and leftists may tend to overlook failures and shortcomings of the Venezuelan government in light of these acts.

        It is clear that the “drill baby drill” cracking mania in the US had as one of its objectives the harming of oil exporting nations such as Russia, Saudi Arsbia and Venezuela, countries that we Americans have been told “hate our freedom.”

        Meanwhile major United States political assets in Venezuela are locked up and face lengthy prison terms. Venezuela is movoing ever closer to Russia, China and Muslim countries.

        It is not possible that the American Exceptionalists are going to sit passively on their hands and merely observe events in Venezuela, the country with the world’s largest proven oil and gas reserves.

    • https://profile.theguardian.com/user/id/12087685

      That’s funny.
      You have been singing high praise of the Bolivarian Revolution for years.
      I figured now was the perfect time for you to emigrate there and bask in wondrous economic policies that you have been cheering on.
      Paradise awaits you in Venezuela, Mr. Weixel and its just as wonderful as you knew socialism could be and ever shall be.

      • I have been defending Venezuela from liars and people who’d love to see US tanks on Venezuelan streets. I’ve always held a critical view of Chavez, you can find that in the archives of Oil Wars blog from over ten years ago. I’ve never called myself a Chavista and never have said that I believe that Venezuela is a socialist country.

        I did not come to promote my blogging efforts but people who might want to know where I stand can find my opinions and the information that I wish to share at
        http://venezuelausa.blogspot.com/2016/02/mind-boggling-events-in-venezuela.html

        • If you believe that an unweaponized Tucano was going to bomb 12 buildings as part of one of 200 coup plots, then you are certainly not defending Venezuela from liars, but, in actuality, defending all the liars themselves, no matter how ridiculous their lies.
          Either you know you do that and are a liar yourself or you are gullible to a point beyond rational thought.

  29. Yes, there are differences between Sanders 2016 and Chavez as President. What many people forget is that Chave’z 1998 campaign rhetoric was much more moderate compared to his actions as President. As such, his 1998 campaign could be viewed as a stealth operation where Chavez masked his true intentions. Compare the campaign rhetoric of Sanders 2016 and Chavez 1998: much more similar than many here would like to admit.
    Just sayin’.

    • The problem with Venezuela back in 1999 was not just Chavez but his enablers, the weaker political and civic institutions. You have to seriously wonder how a Military Coupster becomes eligible to hold any political position let alone President !

      Even if Stalin emerges from Hell and becomes President of the USA, the institutions are strong enough not to allow any kind of madness become policy.
      The worst that can happen with Sanders as President is 4 years of political stalemate.
      The Best that could happen is a dramatic recovery of the middle class.
      I don’t think anybody can predict what would happen.
      I like Sanders, but I feel a bit uncomfortable with his punitive rhetoric.
      Free tuition and Universal Health Care are nor radical, nor a pie in the sky, since many other countries with less resources already have it. I just wish he had a more balanced view of the Economy.
      Free trade has enormous benefits so to change that could spell disaster.
      Trade Unions help to maintain a strong middle class but also can destroy their own jobs.
      Most of these issues though are complicated and go beyond the grasp of the average voter.
      To be honest, Universal Suffrage has been always a throw of the dice.
      If we are lucky the best will win.
      Might as well say, God will provide. lol

    • Thing is, I remember Chávez first campaign. Hard not to – I spent most of the time saying “If Chávez wins, I leave the country”; Chávez won, I left.

      It may have been more “moderate” than what he did later on, but sure as hell it was not moderate. I’m not stupid, but I also dont consider myself the most intelligent and subtle analyst of politics. And parsing Chávez message and understanding what he was did not require that.

      That so many wanted to believe otherwise is still, to me, a puzzle. That feeling of many that well, that kind of stuff CANT happen in Venezuela! Is just for show, is just his propaganda angle, really, it will be different when he is president, institutions will moderate him, the gringos will moderate him (Hell, I even heard some idiot saying no problem, if he is too bad the CIA will kill him…)

      Well, surprise, the guy that was campaigning as an authoritarian populist on a platform of hate was an authoritarian populist whose only product was hate.

      Thats also something that frightens me about many people talking about Trump, btw. No, it cant happen in the US, is different, he will be moderated, he …

      … well, why not better not take the chance that you are wrong and the rabid buffoon is, actually, a rabid buffoon, and that he delivers exactly what he says he will deliver? Just to be on the safe side.

      • Back in ’98 I was puzzled how a Military Coupster can get away with murder, zero government experience, and zero education in a related field could seriously be considered to be President no less!
        The level of impunity still blows my mind.
        As if that was not enough, the “curse” continued with this guy that doesn’t even has a high school diploma in a Country were higher education has been free for decades.
        It is so bad that I have thought about conspiracy theories or a holy punishment !
        I sure, It feels like deliberate creative destruction.

  30. Populism is Populism wherever it manifests, both Hillary and Sanders are no different to Chavez in their Status-Quo-Must-Be-Destroyed an lets Eat The Rich. More interesting though is the effect of the chavista regime in venezuelan millenials, I like to think that we’re a generation oriented to right-wing, and specifically; libertarian ideals, as we’ve come to finally understand that in some way or another, we’ve always had limited economic freedoms, an economy run by a central government, and that all the parties that have run the country have been left wing, since Acción Democratica and Copei to the PSUV (even if it has gone from moderate-democratic socialism to hard-line-cuban-USRR-pseudo-communism). So I think that the lesson plenty of us venezuelan millenials have is that we need a big turnaround, we’re sick and tired of messiahs, well meaning politics that ultimately lead to nothing, and overall, the State worshiping mantra we’ve had through 50 years.

  31. I love it when you sifrinitos try to hold up the left wing liberal facade when you know very well that your moral obligations incite you to be right wing.

    Bernie Sanders is a fuckign populist plane and simple.

    • I will offer that the definition of “populist” may have a different connotation in the United States and Canada than in Latin America. In the United States it has generally referred to someone who believe that middle- and working-class people should have more control, support for labor unions, support for small businesses (yes, support FOR small businesses over large corporations), small farm owners, etc. It is a general belief that large institutions of any type should not have too much power.

      I am not a native of Latin America so I will not say what it means there — but the comments on this post tell me that “populist” in Latin America is generally equated with socialism, communism, seizure of private property, etc. Am I correct?

    • I love it when offensive know-it-alls make the worst kind of unsubstantiated blanket statements about how others should behave in an act of cheap reinforcement for their own myopic political worldview.

      Plain, by the way. Not ‘plane’.

  32. What’s more moronic? Te be a Venezuelan defending bernie or working for hrc? Maybe there’s a socialist virus in the water in Venezuela, we’ll used too, no water anymore. Feeling the bern.

  33. Today its impossible to find an economically developed country that has an absolutely pure market economy , to various degrees the state participates in the orgnization and operation of these economies , often in a very prominent way, clearly without causing the kind of disasters that we are experiencing in Venezuela . Come to think of it Bolivia and Ecuador ( dare we include China) even while professing themselves socialist have not run into the catastrophic situations we now face !! It appears that the socialism which these countries practice varies in some substantive way from that which has been practiced in Venezuela, with results which are totally discordant to those which our mongrel brand of socialism has produced

    Perhaps the labels a country’s leaders pompously use to describe the ideology that purportedly inspires their rule has little to do with the specific way their countrys economy is managed in practical day to day terms. Perhaps if Chavez and Maduro had adopted policies like those adopted by those brother socialist countries we wouldnt be in the desperate straits that we are now in……..!!

    I am very wary of paying blind tribute to any particular dogmatic political or economic formula as an omnieffective way of dealing with a countrys economic challenges , while the market economy template seens to be basic to any succesful economy, historical and practical experience tells us that there are times and situations were a role must be accorded to an effective balanced govt participation to achieve the best results. Dogmatic fundamentalism in the adoption of an economic philosophy is never wise because human beings are too complex and unpredictable creatures to allow any system born of abstract theory to avoid ultimately falling in serious disruptions disfunctions and flaws.

    Of the two US candidates mentioned one seems a nice enough person albeit prone to utopian delusions of the most syrupy kind while the other is a clownish blustering braggart totally unworthy of aspiring to the office of the presidency of a great nation like the USA. Its an embarrassment to people like us that see the US as epitomizing all thats best in a free democratic political system !!

  34. Inside every socialist is a totalitarian screaming to be let out.
    Bernie, the career politician, would like to be that totalitarian.

  35. Thanks Marcela for such an honest piece. Playing the Chávez=Sanders card is plain demagoguery when it comes from US political operatives, and plain nonsense when it comes from Venezuelans, especially Venezuelans who have been living here in the US for some time and should know better. For several years the exact parallel to chavismo you have here in the US has been precisely the radical wing of the GOP (be it in their religious right or Tea Party flavors), in their utter contempt for institutions, accountability, minorities, democracy and plain facts. Narcissistic demagogues or fanatics like Trump or Ted Cruz are quite similar to our Comandante Intergaláctico.
    From the campaign pulpit Sanders is stating a real fact: Institutions in the US have been hijacked by big money and this is posing a very serious threat to democracy and governability. And what attracts people to him is that he is *the only candidate* who voices this truth loud and clear. And this is something that is worrying not just people from the Sanders’ camp but also the working-class white voter who sympathizes with the likes of Trump or Cruz (the difference is that those two spew nothing but BS). Hilary for her part can’t help being “guabinosa” in this regard, given all the money backing her.
    If you dislike Sanders, fair enough, but please don’t come with the “socialist-sandinista-castro-comunista-chavista, etc.” crap. Confront him with facts, like Paul Krugman yesterday in the NYT:
    http://nyti.ms/20IagcB

    • If you want to be taken seriously please don’t bring an article from a Tabloid news source ? lol
      You should know that “paper” is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also own the infamous Fox News TV channel. Source of the most biased and distorted right wing gibberish.

  36. If I had to point out the most grievous harm done by Chavez and chavismo to too many persons who opposed them… he destroyed their (ours) ability to think coolly… to be moderate about things, to see in shades of gray and not be so damn certain… and we should know better than that! We should know better than to buy into the war rhetoric of Chavez, we should know better than to demonize or deify anyone, we should know better than to spout sweeping and categorical statements, we should know better than to say that a whole side of the political spectrum should be suppressed… Hell, this is more symptomatic of the way some Venezuelans thought processes than whatever Bernie Sanders is or has done, or wants to do. It’s scary, because we are thinking like the Cubans in exile and if it weren’t that on one hand Chavismo is self destroying, and on the other we have a MUD and more moderate people like Torrealba and Capriles, I’d despair of getting rid of it in the next 60 years!

  37. This article is the worst condescending “Pendejo Sin Fronteras” (PSF) bullshit Caracas Chronicles has ever posted. Sanders represents the worst left wing rhetoric I’ve ever seen in mainstream America and his message is very similar to the message of left wing apologists who defended Chavez from afar while he was destroying Venezuela.

    Sanders main message is that people should be angry because they have been screwed by capitalism, big banks and big business. Wrong. Anyone in countries like the US can get out of poverty by studying hard, working hard and making the right choices. It’s all about personal responsibility. Chavez took us into a rabbit hole by convincing people that they were poor because someone screwed them up; Sanders has the same message. And don’t get me wrong, Trump is even more dangerous in my opinion. Sanders would ruin the economy, Trump would ruin the whole country because he is a narcissistic lying bully, but that is another subject.

    • Throughout these comments one can already notice Venezuelans’ huge shallowness, self-centeredness and ignorance, the same one that Marcela successfully points at in her article. It is in fact very naive to compare political candidates or politicians in different institutional frameworks, and even worse when comparing the US with Venezuelan politics. The reason why Sanders would never lead a Chavez-like government is because the US has probably the strongest political institutions of modern history, which makes it sometimes virtually impossible to change or “modernize” basic principles such as the right to gun ownership. And you are thinking Sanders will bring socialism to the US? Give me a break. He even knows he can’t do half of what he is proposing, but as Marcela points out, he uses such “revolutionary” arguments to gather more votes, just as Trump uses racist and xenophobic rhetoric to gain his share of the pile. It’s called politics my friends. Deal with it.

      As for MiguelE’s comments, such as “anyone in countries like the US can get out of poverty by studying hard, working hard and making the right choices. It’s all about personal responsibility”… the American dream right? Such a lovely history yet full of lies. Since the 1980s, Americans have seen college and health costs rise considerably, making it for new generations much harder to own property or even have financial security because they have incurred deeply in loans which makes it virtually impossible to repay their debts. Also during the same time period, income inequality has grown dramatically and now the middle class have much lesser prospects to look at than for example the Baby Boomers generation. It is no secret that the average American is much worse off than before. And both Sanders’ and Trump’s ratings answer for that fact. In this sense, it is completely normal in any given country’s history that at some point anti-establishment candidates arise because of people’s frustration with the system. And it is blind and foolish not to recognize this US election is all about people being fed up with the current status quo.

      And Sanders is by no way the first US presidential runner who uses such left-wing rhetoric. His proposed economic and governmental model is very similar to many other Europeans’ and also very simple: raising taxes. You could of course argue if that’s something good or bad for a country, but in pure public policy terms it is a very simple proposal and very, very different to Chavez’s model in Venezuela. Chavez by no means can be representative of the global left, not the least of the left in developed countries, which again is completely different to the Left in, say, Latin America. The reason why the Left has been so harmful in Latin America is because the region lacks strong, transparent democratic institutions that provide check and balances and makes politicians accountable. On the contrary, the region’s “extractive” institutions (i’m quoting Acemoglu’s term for the sake of the argument) makes it easy for politicians to seek rentist activities, in other words to steal from the government and engage in corruption to their personal gain. This happens in both leftist and right-wing governments throughout Latin America, but possibly more during left-wing regimes. Because the US was founded on very strong principles of free market, the pursuit of happiness, land ownership, it is almost impossible not only from a political point of view but also from a cultural perspective that Sanders could impose a Soviet- or Chavez-like socialism. I cannot vouch for Sanders’ intentions, but both his political past and also the US institutional framework show that he would never manage to become a Chavez. Is every left wing politician in the world a Chavez in the making? Every developed country virtually shows that leftists policies can be very much aligned with democratic principles when institutions are strong enough that don’t permit substantial constitutional change.

      It is clear now from this post and comments how Chavez fucked up some people’s minds. And it is understandable, I also hated and still hate the guy and what he did to my country. But I think Venezuelans should definitely invest a little bit more time in getting to know other places, countries, political systems, both by reading and also by travelling, to learn that actually, our country and also Chavez are just little small pieces in this huge and complex world. In the future, Venezuelans will have entire history books, biographies, encyclopedias, you name it, dedicated to Chavez’s legacy (both positively and negatively) and all the damage (or goodness) he inflect upon our country. In universal history books however, the ones that talk about Washington, Roosevelt, Gandhi, Churchill, Mandela, Gorbachov, Chavez will have maybe one paragraph dedicated to him. And so will Sanders if he wins the presidency.

  38. I wish he would stop with the socialist and revolutionary talk. In the 50’s and early 60’s the US had very high tax rates (max rate ~92%), and nobody called the US Socialist. He should talk instead about going back to the Economy of those days when a family didn’t have to worry about the high cost of Health Care Insurance (~$1000.00/month where I work) and of higher education, and when people could afford to retire because companies still provided pensions, etc.

    Two years ago I became grandfather for the first time. My daughter and her husband would love to have more children but they cannot afford to even though they have decent jobs. Sanders is the only one talking about these issues.

    • And these days it takes a socialist to even defend the FDR and Great Society reforms. It will take an electoral insurrection – a big middle finger to the one percent at the ballot box to even begin to restore what’s been stolen, like a big chunk of Social Security and the no tuition policies of state and municipal colleges and universities. Hill goes along, gets along and enriches hetself. Feel the Nicmer Evans betn.

    • I agree with you, Carlos. The only one candidate talking about helping the middle class is Bernie. That is why he is making huge progress even with a total media blackout. He is the only one saying that we should re-purpose the already high taxes that middle-class people pay to help the middle-class. We can use our taxes to fund tuition-free college, paid family leave, medicare for all, etc. Things that would actually improve our lives and the non-existent social safety net for workers. These things sound radical for some here, but they are the norm in most civilized countries. Even most third-world countries have laws like these (that their systems don’t work quite as well is something different)…

  39. It would be more interesting to compare the similarities of the political environment between 1998 Venezuela and 2016 USA.
    Like Chavez in Venezuela, Sanders and Trump represent the outsiders candidates. They have become the recipients of the anger vote. They represent a more dramatic challenge to the status quo.

    1998 Venezuelans were frustrated blaming the mainstream politicians for the economic downturn of the 90’s rather than the $8 Oil price.

    Likewise, Americans are frustrated with the new Normal after owning the 20th century almost exclusively. Politicians, Wall Street and Immigrants serve here as the scapegoats, rather than the emergence of a multipolar world and consequent lost of global hegemony.

    Obviously there is more nuance to this but I think we are dealing with a similar environment. Hence the emergence of more radical political figures.
    In fact, as many have suggested in the comments. There are also valid Chavez -Trump comparisons.

  40. The sad irony here is that neither Bernie Sanders nor Hugo Chavez are socialists. Sanders (whom I have no love for and do not support) is a moderate social democrat by any measure, and Chavez was a power-hungry charismatic totalitarian in the model of Benito Mussolini. I sincerely doubt the latter ever so much as cracked open a copy of Das Kapital. There is no doubt however that the current regime in Venezuela is a Stalinist model command economy and there is broad public support for dismantling that model and returning to a liberalized free market.

    All this hyperventilation about collectivism versus free market is just the dumb perpetuation of the same false dichotomy that dominates contemporary American political dialogue. Sanders is not anywhere close to a Hugo Chavez. Few in America are, really.

    As I’ve said in my previous remarks, I feel Sanders would be no friend to Venezuela. But we seriously (and I am looking mostly at you, Americans) need to get off this bologna false debate about the command economy versus free market. All good economies are mixed economies, and the US is a mixed economy and has been since Theodore Roosevelt. The stupid row currently lies over regulatory controls regarding financial and commercial institutions and perhaps tweaking the tax brackets. That’s as rabble-rousey as it gets. But to hear all the hyperventilation, you think the red brigades would be marching tomorrow. It’s mostly bullshit.

    • Perfect. I’d just add one thing: Venezuelans! If you are going ballistic over Sanders (or anyone else!), do yourselves a favor and SHADAP! JUST FREAKING SHADAP! You aren’t helping anyone. Unless you want to see if “a Chavez” is possible in the U.S.A… please try and find yourselves a cool head.The saddest and probably the biggest part of the Great Chavez Clusterf*ck was Venezuelans in opposition and government going apesh*t over the man one way or the other. It is revolting but somewhat understandable among chavistas, sad and inexcusable among people opposing the madness, to JOIN IT.

    • “But to hear all the hyperventilation, you think the red brigades would be marching tomorrow. It’s mostly bullshit.”

      if you really think so I have a bridge to sell you…

      No vale yo no creo comes to mind…

  41. Bernie Sanders (whatever you may think of him) is talking about restoring democracy, transparency and accountability to American institutions which have increasingly fallen under control of corrupt elites. His economic policies are not dissimilar to those practiced in the U.S. from the end of the second world war until Reagan’s neo-liberal revolution. They bear no resemblance to the Stalinist policies which have led to the Venezuelan catastrophe. Anyone who thinks Chávez had any intention of strengthening democracy, improving transparency/accountability, or thwarting the power of corrupt politicians/officials ought to have their head examined.

  42. I’d like to hear a coherent criticism of Bernie Sander’s anti-Wallstreet position. So far all I’ve head and read are that he is selling false hope and is a populist and Hillary is a realist. And therefore I have to look at campagin contributions, and the millions she has received from the banks which crashed the economy in 2008 don’t paint a good picture. Of course Republicans and the “liberal media” are going to be one-note “free market” and “de-regulation” and “financial reform” advocates, which actually translates to free-trade agreements such as TPP, as well as abusive labor and environmental practices in other countries. There are coherent and lucid arguments from intelligent left-wing economists which warn of the problems in TPP and open-ended free trade, and also discuss the inherent, structural inequality and lack of accountability in the financial system. Such as the current debate about re-instating Glass-Steagall. I won’t rehash them as I’m not an expert myself. But Bernie’s platform is based on these rational and structured analysis and he is not claiming to be the solution, but rather that he will try to actually address the issue and not dance around it. Does Hillary actually think you can regulate Wallstreet and repair the welfare state in a way that benefits the lower 80% of the population while keeping Wallstreet happy and donating money? How is this held to be the more realistic position?

    • I for one am not in disagreement with his position on the banks. I think he’s quite correct and I also think he’s less full of shit than HRC on that subject. I also think he is rather electable in fact.

      I find him flawed for many other reasons, and while I have a distinct set of concerns about HRC I feel she is the stronger of the two candidates and somebody I would prefer for President of the US over Sanders. That is of course, my opinion and your mileage will vary. For what it’s worth, my strongest concern regarding Sanders is that I think he has a rather inflexible mind and while he’s a good man with an admirable record as a lawmaker, I just don’t see a President in him. I see a scold who at times seems a bit out of his depth. Of course other people might feel differently listening to him.

      That’s my opinion with my American hat on. Putting on my Venezuelan ballcap and windbreaker, I also see somebody who would not lift a finger to help Venezuela, or do anything about Cuban and Chinese encroachment on Venezuelan affairs.

  43. Every Venezuelan used to say: “Venezuela no es Cuba” “Eso aqui no pasa”… And we all know what happened.
    We should learn a lesson, socialism, pseudo-socialism, or whatever the hell they want to call it, is not the answer to make a country productive or a healthy economy. Giving stuff for free, or subsidizing healthcare and education will have consequences on those of us who actually work, own businesses and create jobs.
    I don’t understand how some of us who left Venezuela because of the economic and political situation in our contry of origin can still support the same kind of leftist ideology that made us leave in the first place. To those people, I suggest, get educated before listening to the media, hollywood and the music industry which happens to be, just like in Venezuela, very supportive of the government and the leftist movement.
    Just hink about the last time someone could openly support the republican party on tv without being bullied or made fun of in every single show on daytime, radio, primetime and specially late night.

    • People run away from socialist countries and… surprise! They suddenly become advocates of the same ideas that ruined their countries. I was about to express the same, but you nailed it, so thank you for that. Cheers!

  44. “He believes in the Nordic-style, high-tax, high-benefit welfare state.” I do too, insofar as I would love to visit Norway, Finland and Sweden. Saabs and Volvos, great. The Nobel Prize, wonderful. But to my knowledge none of these countries has ever suffered from massive inequality, poverty, racism, or a recent history of colonialism inflicted on them. I also have the feeling that businesses like Ikea, which is fabulously successful, secretly would like to be based in Hong Kong.

    I actually had this conversation with a chavista years ago when it was possible to email some one on Aporrea and respond to their article and have them respond in kind to your comment. “Why isn’t Chavez capable of executing a Swedish style socialism, geez, even a Spanish style one would be fine (living as I was in Zapatero’s Spain at the time). His reply was essentially “that is a bourgeois solution and we are about the proletariat here.” I insisted on a more human level: “can’t he at least be nice?” “I would change that he said.” Still insisting that European namby-pamby capitalist friendly socialism would never work in Venezuela.

    Naturally this sent me into a consideration of the the very on target work by Carlos Rangel “From the noble savage to the good revolutionary” https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Del_buen_salvaje_al_buen_revolucionario, which posits among other things that Latin America’s perennial low self esteem leads it’s “revolutionaries” to invert every successful Western political and economic tradition into their self-defeating opposite. Democracy, free markets, private property can’t be good because their represent the tradition of the colonialist, imperialist, monopolist, enemy.

    So Sanders wants to implant Nordic style socialism in USA. Good luck is all I can say. Look what the Right did to the Clintons and Obama with the minor changes they brought about. Talk about a waste of political capital. The guy that really looks like Chavez is – of course – Trump. Politics based on racial and class hatred. Check. A complete and dangerous ignoramus on foreign affairs? Check. Simplistic economics to the point of cartoonish-ness? Check. Complete disrespect for the democratic system. Check. Friend of Putin? Check. Verbally incontinent? Check and check.

    (And just to be clear on this matter politically, Clinton is the only candidate that is left who can realistically govern. Fortunately, she is a woman so we can at least be happy about that.)

    • I am glad some else besides me sees what I see in Trump. But, I disagree that Clinton is the best of all the bad choices. I am clinging to the hope that the outliers will drop out soon and Rubio (or even Cruz) will be able to defeat Trump, and go on to win the National election.

    • Thanks for providing a notably rational comment I the midst of so much rant and fanatic rhetoric; although I do not completely agree with the Clinton comment. BTW, I cannot vote but people can say whatever they want about Sanders, but the youth love him (check the pools), and his message is now making his way into other candidates’ discourses. I wonder what that would mean.

    • Care to try your hand at convincing a graduate-level professional with an open mind, how a representative of the liberal elites is supposedly in favor of the impoverished majorities?

      I hear you guys all the time. Good friends work on wallstreet. Always Bernie is an idiot, a populist and yadda yadda yadda. I have yet to actually hear an argument excepct “free market”. Bernie is not going to do away with capitalism people. I expect fox news viewers in the U.S. equivalents of Para-Para to buy fox news level arguments, but this is the creme de la crop! (No relation, I assume (-: ) Convince an educated democrat-by-default why Hillary is better for the lower 80% of the U.S. population and not just the wallstreet-cnbc-cnn power media bubble. Gracias

  45. By the way, I love how people, mainly lefties, talk so much about the “Nordic welfare model”. Yet they ignore completly the French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Italian welfare models. Yes, these were all countries that built huge welfare societies based on high taxation.

    • And it is not that it isn’t a valid model, even though I find the Nordic countries about as interesting as feeding ducks in the park. It is just that it doesn’t suit the character of America. If the U.S. tries it, it will end up looking more like Spain or Greece than Sweden or Norway.

      • The problem with Spain and Greece is they then went and joined the Euro which smashed their international competitiveness, and signed an assortment of stupid “Stability and Growth Pacts” which outlawed the use of fiscal policy.

        Nations without their own currencies can default on their debts (why Greece is in trouble but Japan isn’t!). Nations without their own currencies are unable control the yields on their bonds (why the ECB had to step in to bring yields down for Eurozone nations).
        Nations without their own currencies cannot restore international competitiveness through a currency devaluation (they’re left with internal devaluation/austerity).

        Unless Bernie Sanders has a secret plan for the United States to surrender control of its own currency, there is no reason why the U.S. would ever look like Spain or Greece.

  46. “We were supposed to learn a lesson from all the mess that Chávez left behind”

    I guess you didn’t learn that painful lesson…

  47. Sanders = Chávez => Ignorance about the Venezuelan reality during the last 17 years
    Chávez = Socialist => Ignorance about what socialism and megalomaniac dictator terms are
    Cruz or any GOP Candidate = Future POTUS => Ha, ha, ha . . . what a joke!

    • And do you think you are helping Sanders by comparing him to Mujica?

      Mujica’s legacy in Uruguay, which is a country with only 3 million people far easier to manage than any global city like London or New York, is one of economic stagnation, rampant inflation, ever-growing public deficit, unprecedented crime rates, mediocre education results at international tests, and, last but not least, a not well-thought-out plan on drug legalization that to this day hasn’t improved anything on the ground years after it’s been approved, actually the situation seems to be getting worse.

      Sources:

      http://goo.gl/ksKOWk

      http://goo.gl/4Y5o1V

      http://goo.gl/kGZgnE

      http://goo.gl/DD65Mo

      http://goo.gl/cwIvgq

      http://goo.gl/E4Bghj

    • And do you think you are helping Sanders by comparing him to Mujica?

      Mujica’s legacy in Uruguay, which is a country with only 3 million people far easier to be managed than any global city as London or New York, is one of economic stagnation, rampant inflation, ever-growing public deficit, unprecedented crime rates, mediocre education results at international tests, and, last but not least, a not well-thought-out plan on drug legalization that to this day hasn’t improved anything on the ground years after it’s been approved, actually the situation seems to be getting worse.

      Sources:

      insightcrime.org/news-briefs/uruguay-record-year-homicides

      buenosairesherald.com/article/198929/disappointing-economic-data-startles-uruguay

      en.mercopress.com/2015/12/04/uruguayan-government-unable-to-keep-inflation-below-two-digits

      en.mercopress.com/2015/12/04/uruguay-could-be-heading-to-recession-because-of-the-government-s-political-stalemate

      elobservador.com.uy/pruebas-pisa-el-peor-resultado-uruguay-2003-n266579

      elpais.com.uy/informacion/incautan-marihuana-operativo-san-jose.html

      • Many countries have social, economic and health problems. Uruguay surely is one of them. What do you think of the country that leads the world in mass murders, incarceration, consumption of mind altering drugs, obesity, type two diabetes and where the life span of working class males is diminishing? Obama’s fault, right?

  48. Seriously folks, Bernie Sanders has a strong similarity to Hugo Chavez. When he speaks of leading a political revolution he is as serious as polio – he’s not joking.

    He’s out to destroy the legacy of the Reagan Revolution. If he succeeds the GOP as we know.it will happily for many, be in cinders. The Democratic Party will be a de facto labor party, or at least a wing, led by Sanders, will be. Sanders knows that just winning the White House won’t be sufficient. He intends to create an activist juggernaut from his campaign apparatus, online left liberal activists and journalists, what remains os the activist progressive union movement, notably the organized nurses, construction laborers and some others. He expects to fire up debt strapped millenia to protest, petition, email and phone “bomb” legislators. He expects this juggernaut to be alive and well even if he doesn’t beat Clinton.

    He reminds me of one of my American political heroes, Huey Pierce Long, namesake of Black Panther founder Huey Pierce Long. Long was challenging FDR from the left and set up a Share Our Wealth Societies that had around eight million members both Black and white. Unfortunately after he was murdered this movement went rabid right and shriveled up. I don’t doubt Sanders has studied Huey P Long, an authentic US revolutionary.

    Sanders is a socialist. His platform would be called a transitional program by Trotskyists.

    Differences: Sanders at least doesn’t outwardly challenge American Exceptionalism and the Full Spectrum Dominance philosophy. He signaled this when he tagged Chavez “a dead communist dictator” something which I wonder if he really believes. At any rate his rhetoric is standard mainstream dove, negotiations before confrontation.

    Sanders accepts criticism, including some shouting, pushing and shoving in public (Black Lives Matter). Chavez solicited criticism but I’ve found no evidence he actually could accept it. Not many paratrooper Colonels do. Had he and his “son” been more flexible and open Nicmer Evans, Denis Roland and others would be in the PSUV.

    Speaking of whom, Sanders is a guy who believes that much of the wealth held by the one percent is I’ll gotten, and needs to be coughed up and redistributed downward, similar to Nicmer Evans.

  49. First, a basic assumption said on the comments a lot:

    “Venezuelans aren’t like Cuban exiles”.

    Bullshit. Venezuelans are exactly like Cuban exiles, driven to extremism and fully aware that there’s no such thing as “Hispanic Brotherhood”. Hell, wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Venezuelans in Miami vote for Trump.

    Besides that, Sanders may not be a “real socialist” (I despise that argument since is basically defending the indefensible to continue an endless Scandinavian circlejerk), but is the favorite candidate of regime apologists, so I don’t want him to win.

  50. You just have to love how the author makes a specific point of sanders not been insane like chavez, and on the comments you find comment after comment on how Sanders likes cuba and wants to destroy capitalism and socialism is the sayona… is tiring how my fellow venezuelans more often than not mean fuera del perol… panas, stop viewing everything from your own point of view

    You can disagree with Sanders, fine, but don’t try to make the guy look like he’s some communist terrorist who likes to eat babies

  51. Obama and his cronies already tried some of Chavez’s tricks long ago in the US and failed miserably (repeal of the 22nd Amendment, using government agencies (IRS) to attack political opponents, attacks on freedom of speech, trying to close or muzzle opposition media, race and class warfare, etc.). Hey, give us another chance, we’ll get it right this time! (didn’t Pol Pot say that?) LOL!!!. Take that old, crappy car, put a fresh, shiny coat of paint on it, and get a good salesman to sell it again to idiots who can’t remember or prefer to deny the past. Marxism is a mental illness that infects people who can’t face reality and who get ugly and destructive when they don’t get their way kind of like the Che Jim Jones of People’s Temple fame. Socialism and communism are basically the same thing despite the BS of the left-a system based on ridiculous utopia fantasies of impossible equality, complete disregard for economic principles that work, hatred and destruction of the norms of western civilization (Christianity, free enterprise, personal freedoms, democracy, decent morality, etc.) by any means of subversion, racial hatred of europeos/conquistadores/piel blanco paranoia (Chavez’s trump card), scapegoating others for failures (we have no milk because the CIA is stealing cows), denial of the productivity of the capitalist system that buys Venezuela’s oil and the impossibility of the survival of that same pathetic economy without capitalism, whining about global warming in typical leftist hysteria fashion while selling oil to people who stink up the air with it and selling 1 cent a gallon gas proudly, the notion that you can only make the human race happy by enslaving it and ruling over it with an iron hand while the gangsters get rich (like the Chavistas and the Castros), and complete denial of the failures and massacres of this ideology over the decades. Venezuela is just the latest glowing example of the cliff these Barbudo worshipers will run you off of if you let them run rampant. And let’s not forget the much touted success of socialism in the Nordic countries, where Sweden is now the “rape capital of the world” and pigs have become popular pets thanks to the neo-soviet European Union’s disastrous and potentially game-ending policy of “muslim flooding.” Well you have to destroy those white bastards somehow, don’t you, since it’s all their fault?

    “Imagine there’s no toilet paper, it isn’t hard to do. No food to die for, and no electricity, too. Imagine all the students dying in the streets. Ah, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not having any fun. Maybe someday you’ll join us, when there’s no where else to run.” John Lenin desde Miami?

    3 stages of Socialism:
    1. Delusional optimism
    2. Run out of other people’s money
    3. Kill

    PS: Sanders is probably the next George McGovern and may develop Alzheimer’s if he doesn’t already have it.

  52. Sanders already called Chavez a dictator years ago and parted with his views (unlike other left wing leaders in Europe, like Corbyn and Tsipras), which cost him some support of traditional left wing organizations in the USA, which even now are hellbent on defending all the bad stuff that happens here… But fine, go ahead, he’s just like Chavez of course. It’s also very amusing how a good deal of the countries that supported Chavez’ so-called revolution here in Venezuela were way more successful economically and socially-wise than Venezuela, and in many ways actually fulfilling the ideal he had (even if it was just in paper in the end) than he ever did, while Venezuela currently has negative economic growth. The sort of thing that would make anyone step back and reflect on what’s going on here, only deviates in further ideological ridicule.

    I mean, I understand the animosity some of the exiles and people in here have towards Left wing views (despite supporting largely Left wing parties in the opposition, social-democratic but Left wing all the same), but then you see them displaying the same shortcomings they had when opposing the statu quo back in 1998 when voting for Chavez now, by supporting the likes of Rubio and Trump, even Cruz. But hey, “better dead than red”, am I correct? Not surprising given how reactionary the Cuban expats in FL (where most of the Venezuelans end up) are, but sad all the same.

  53. It annoys me that every single attempt to expand the United States meager social safety net, which does absolutely nothing for the middle class that pays most of the nation’s bills, is classified as “socialism”. Sanders calling himself a socialist does no good for this either.

    In any case, you might agree or disagree with Sanders on specific policy issues, but using a label to disqualify him… that’s what chavistas do! His policy proposals for the US are things most countries already have, including tax-funded education and medical insurance, paid family leave, a legal minimum of vacation time, etc. I don’t see anything “radical” about that.

    • The middle class pays most of the nation’s bill? you better check your data there, don’t confuse the “percentage of income” rhetoric with how much is actually being paid. There’s nothing radical about the things you mention, it’s just that it doesn’t work when they’re MANDATED. There are many companies and businesses that provide those benefits already, our education system sucks (we’re definitely not getting our moneys worth, look where we rank in spending compared to where we rank in STEM. We don’t see this problem in the private sector) He keeps pointing towards the Scandinavian countries, but the same policies that he champions are failing there and they continue to move more and more towards a free market economy. They also have a lower corporate tax and no minimum wage laws!

  54. The problem with all these grand ideological formulas is that they tend to propose an abstract ‘one size fit all’ recipe for every country and circumstance and not take into consideration how different national characters and circumstances can make them inviable to apply. Reminds me of how Cogol caricatured a russian serf owners method for transforming his rascally lazy hard drinking russian peasants into sober , hard working , disciplined honest tillers of the soil by dressing them up with german lederhosen !!

    There is too much idealization here of the Venezuelan private business milieu and culture and its efficiency, of course they are much better than their govt counterparts but they are far from emulating the more modern efficient business operations of other countries .

    One thing for sure Communism is the worst of all system because it is dysfunctional by definition because it can only work with near perfect human beings , the only time it has worked in modern conditions has been in the Israeli kibuttz, and then with increasing problems which led to its almost total disappearance in Israel.

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