The big black hole "al norte del Sur"

Find the missing piece
Find the missing piece

One of the things I’ve been doing this summer vacation is catching up on my academic reading. In doing so, I came across a paper by Santiago Levy and Norbert Schady, both at the Inter-american Development Bank, titled “Latin America’s Social Policy Challenge: Education, Social Insurance, Redistribution.”

Cool, I thought, let’s see what they have to say about Venezuela. As it turns out, very little!

In this paper, and in several others I have seen, Venezuela is simply not even mentioned. Aside from a few mentions of things we all know – inequality, energy subsidies – there is nothing on misiones, educational gaps, or other social policy indicators.

Now, I understand skipping Venezuela if you’re writing about, I dunno, stock markets, or about free trade agreements and what not. But social policy?

As far as I know, Venezuela has a lot of people, and it has a lot of social policy. Most of it is bunk, but it has it, or at least it claims it does. How can anyone analyzing “Latin America’s Social Policy Challenge” simply gloss over the Venezuelan experience?

This is particularly galling when one considers that Venezuela may be an outlier, but one that is not comfortable in that position. Our country has made the spread of its “model” one of the main goals of its foreign policy. The IDB can’t simply pretend chavismo doesn’t exist.

If chavismo has done things well, then say it. If they are screwing up, then say it as well. Don’t hide behind the fact that the statistical data available may not be to your liking – if you’re including Guatemala, for cryin’ out loud, you should be able to get reliable data from Venezuela.

We see this in summits, we see this in the foreign policy approach of many Latin American countries, and we see this in academic analyses: Venezuela is so screwed up, the country has so gone off the deep end, we should just pretend it doesn’t exist, much as we have done with Cuba the last fifty years.

It’s a cop-out, and it’s wrong.

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