Chaos and the Left

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There’s a certain tendency among conservatives to see the macroeconomic chaos Venezuela is experiencing as the inevitable result of radical leftist government. But this must be one of the easier fallacies to refute: Latin America is peppered with radical leftist governments that are chipping away at democracy in a context of macroeconomic order and growing prosperity.

Prof. Briceño sees it clearly:

Venezuela isn’t just an outlier in Latin America. It isn’t just an outlier in the Latin American left. It’s an outlier in the Latin American radical left! The country’s economy hasn’t gone insane because the people who run it are leftists, it’s gone insane because the people who run it are mamarrachos.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well, I’m glad this theme has finally become sexy. People know that the current situation sucks, but they ussually just don’t realize how shitty Venezuelan economic situation is in a comparative perspective

  2. Separation of powers is key, and one of the key institutions to keep separate is a national bank which doesn’t follow the electoral requirements of the party in power. That may not be the most important distinction between Venezuela and left countries like, say, petro-power Norway, but it is an important one.

    Another is transparent bookkeeping and Parliamentary approval of all government spending.

    • Separation of powers, the key? No, not really.

      Accountability is the real key.

      When it works, separation of powers is just a somewhat effective mean to this end.

      • The Supreme Court, and, I would argue, the national bank, are not “accountable” to any constituency as the President or Parliament are. In any event, their legitimacy arises from SEPARATE sources, than does that of the President or National Assembly. The will of the people doesn’t determine civil rights questions in a democracy.

        • Oh, I’m not engaging in constitutional theory. I’m just pointing out that one should not confuse the means with the ends, nor declarations of principles, like the one below, with actionable goals.

          The will of the people doesn’t determine civil rights questions in a democracy.

          Here’s the problem with that noble proclamation : it may be held as sacred truth in polite society but in the real world, it turns out to be patently false. At best, it should read.

          The will of the people should not determine civil rights questions in a democracy.

          Except, it does.

          In the end, it’s always the “will of the people” or, more exactly, the will of whoever manages to capture the imagination of the people that determines questions of civil rights, and of any rights, for that matter. Outcomes matter above principles. Given enough time, given enough rope, they always do. Ignoring that basic truth for too long is what has allowed the Chavistas to steal the country.

      • “Accountability is the real key.” Agree. Good point.

        Even a dictatorship would work if the moment that the dictator’s approval rating slipped below 50% he was instantly executed and replaced. Which is not to say that it would work well, simply that it would assure that dictator was trying to please the public and avoiding pissing them off. It would also assure that someone with no chance of success avoided that job.

        Absurdities aside, authority and responsibility must correlate. Authority without responsibility always lead to abuse of power. Responsibility without authority lead to failure.

        • Accountability means that the activity or performance of a ruler in the pursuit of certain tasks or functions of government is objectively and intelligently scrutinized and assesed by the mass of the ruled so that its failures and mistkes and misdeeds can lead to its loss of popular support and its expulsion from government .

          But what happens when the mass of the ruled or a large portion of them lack the knowhow, judgment , intellectual resources, time , interest or information to be able to make that assesment with any degree of accuracy and instead is ofuscated by crappy passions and manipulated misinformation deceits and delusions or bribed by cheap populist give aways into finding that performance perfectly adequate or at least tolerable . Very simple answer , the ruler is not held accountable for its incompetence and misdeeds.The provision for democractic accountability doesnt do its work .

          So for the principle of democratic accountabilty to work you need for people who scrutinize and asses the job performance of the ruler to have the capability of objectively and accurately understanding and judging such performance .Another problem of course is that because the political system is organized on a crude contentious basis , where political groups or parties battle each other to reach and retain a position of power , they have a vested interest in not being objective, in exagerating the failures of the ruler , in not givng it any reasonable slack. so the credibility of the acounting process is compromised.

          Also the political groups are not required to present detailed budgeted programs , with the specific goals which they are to achieve before the public only with general rethorical points so that measuring that performance is difficult and imprecise.

          • The platonic ideal is direct democracy, etc. But Venezuela is not Switzerland. So a representative and somewhat controlled democracy-oligarchy is what you’ll get at best.

            But Venezuela’s problem is not the fact that it’s not Switzerland. Most countries are not Switzerland and yet they are doing mostly OK.

            What ails Venezuela is a vicious case of resource curse. And as long this is not addressed, as long controlling of the government means gaining access to a large pot of unaccountable oil money, you’ll get thugs and crooks in charge, trying to get theirs hands in the pot, and nothing else.

            Any political program for Venezuela that fails address this issue in a definitive way is a joke.

          • Fifi, resource curse plays a a large role, but it’s not everything. Otherwise, Cuba wouldn’t be what it is, can you tell me what resource does Cuba have?

            If you address the resource curse just to put yet another ideological basket case (be it on the far-left or far-right of the political spectrum) to rule Venezuela after the Chavistas are gone, then you will be in trouble again.

            The Venezuelan people must understand that there are no answers available outside of full democracy and market economy (and that automatically excludes communists and fascists from offering their “services” when political change happens in Venezuela), and when the people understand that, they will never have to abandon their beautiful country again.

          • Having low expectations when it comes to Venezuela is never a bad bet. But still, using Cuba as your point of comparison is setting the bar way too low. Cuba is an easily controlled island with a fairly small population, 2/5 of Venezuela, and a basket case the Cold War allowed to fester for more than 30 years, which is around the threshold where things get truly encroached and very difficult to turn around, when more than a full generation has known nothing but a single regime.

            So, the question is not to compare Venezuela to Cuba but to other South American countries, Brazil, Chile, etc. Even Colombia. What makes Venezuela such a basket case compared to the rest of the continent? And every time you look at a problem that country has had since the 70s, any problem, and you dig a bit, you always get back to oil, oil money and what that cursed spigot allows the country’s rulers to get away with.

            So I’m not saying that solving the resource curse will magically solve all problems in the country. I’m saying you won’t be able to solve durably any problem if you don’t address the resource curse first.

            It’s an absolute prerequisite if you want Venezuela to be ever a somewhat normal country.

            And the question is not to exhort Venezuelan people to understand that there are no answers available outside of full democracy and market economy. You can exhort them all you want. It won’t make a difference.

            The question how do you give them a clear stake in full democracy and market economy? How do you make sure government is actually at the service of its citizens and not a money spigot over which politicians fight to figure out who gets to dole out favors to their friends? How do you make it so people don’t reflexively turn to the government to fulfill all their needs and treat with contempt demagogues who promise it will?

            How, practically? In real terms?

  3. Well, ecuador not be a mess like venezuela but could soon joint the club. They have been running deficits like crazy and since they dont have the inflation tax they have less wiggle room once the shit hits the fan with low oil prices!

    • Well, they would have an old style default, but with less severe effects for the public. No inflation, but tax hikes, the effect would be on governement consumption, their shit would be less odorous than ours.

  4. You have a point in that Leftist politics do not necessarily result in chaos, though they DO always result in loss of personal liberties. Nevertheless, a some degree of wealth redistribution, so long as the rules are clear, consistent, and equally enforced, need not result in economic chaos. Businesses adapt and the costs of such measures are become simply part of their operating costs and products are priced accordingly. Stability and predictability are the keys, and executed properly, business can still thrive. Obviously, changing the laws every day and not enforcing them consistently or equally does result in chaos and a diminished appetite for investment.

    BUT, in spite of the fact that leftist policies CAN function, they always result in economic inefficiencies. The economic distortions created by a government’s meddling change the natural efficiency of the market, and change the decisions that would otherwise have been made. Which is not to say that I promote some pure form of Laissez Faire Capitalism. A nation IS more than its businesses. However, it should always be remembered that EVERY government action affects the economy and the market in some manner. And in selling their proposals, politicians always manage to gloss over the negative and unintended consequences.

    • Oh my, that was an excellent post. I think you’ve got it exactly right. If rules are “clear, consistent and equally enforced,” which is at the heart of any successful economy, then business’s will indeed ‘adapt’ and make due with the recognizable playing field. It’s really that simple. The above is one of the best 2 paragraph economic lessons I’ve seen in a long time. Well done.

      • +1. It was a great comment.

        When the ruling class and peoples across South America understand that, we will have a 1st world continent to live.

        • I think that’s not the problem in Latin America. That´s a discussion that happens in every country in the world. I think our problem is the existence of such an heterogeneous society, always in conflict.

      • Rawls is neither left, nor right. Those are XVIII century concepts. The Jacobins sat at the left of the French Assembly, the Girondins at the right. Today we evaluate policies according to a set of rules, i.e. Is there freedom of speech, creed, elect representatives and judges? Is there rule of law or rule of lawyers? How reliable are institutions to guarantee the rights of life, freedom and property? Is there a market economy or a socialist one? How many days does it take to set a new business? Are property rights enforced or violated?, etc

        • Well, according to your questions in the end, I assume that the left has become obsolete and the right has finally won the endless dispute, because all your questions are, well, “reactionary”, “conservative”, “right-wing”.

          Anyway, it was about time.

    • “You have a point in that Leftist politics do not necessarily result in chaos, though they DO always result in loss of personal liberties.”

      The people Sweden, for example, have plenty of personal freedoms.

      They’ve also done well economically, and weathered the financial recession much better than other countries.

      • What is particularly “socialist” about Sweden? That they have a couple state companies and a Swedish Obamacare?

        Because Sweden is any right-winger’s utopia becoming reality! I doubt that our friends at Aporrea would enjoy reading this extract below.

        http://www.heritage.org/index/country/sweden

        “Sweden’s economic freedom score is 73.1, making its economy the 20th freest in the 2014 Index. Its score has increased by 0.2 point since last year, with improvements in fiscal freedom and trade freedom outweighing combined small declines in business freedom, labor freedom, and freedom from corruption. Sweden is ranked 10th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is above the world and regional averages.

        Over the 20-year history of the Index, Sweden has advanced its economic freedom score by 11.7 points, the second best improvement among developed economies. Substantial increases in eight of the 10 economic freedoms, including financial freedom, the management of public spending, business freedom, and investment freedom, have enabled the economy to advance from “moderately free” to “mostly free.” In the 2014 Index, Sweden has achieved its highest economic freedom score ever.

        Openness to global trade and commerce has propelled economic dynamism, and Sweden has rebounded relatively quickly from the global recession. The financial system remains stable, and prudent regulations allowed banks to withstand the global financial turmoil with little disruption. Sweden has long benefited from institutional strengths that include strong protection of property rights and minimum tolerance for corruption.”

        • The Heritage Foundation?

          With friends like that, pro-capitalists don’t need enemies. Those guys are complete clowns, gone way down the deep-end of “libertarian” assery. Their notion of “freedom” is the freedom of their patrons, the Koch brothers, to run their business any which way they want without any constraints.

          They are such histrionic asses in their own quadrant of the political spectrum, they positively make Chávez look good, wholesome and reasonable.

          • True… And then, they disowned it as soon they realized it could actually kinda sorta work.

            It was an accidental act of actual policy making. Shit happens. But the hacks at Heritage have learned their lesson and they’ve sworn to theirs donors they would never do it again 🙂

          • Heritage didn’t invent it, they just published the document.

            “Note: Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation (…)” (p.2)

            It was Stuart Butler’s idea (the guy who wrote it…).

          • Classic leftist Ad Hominem… Whenever struck down by reality and objective facts, just blame the Koch Brothers! (Calling them clowns is strongly advised)

        • I never said ‘socialist’. Although Republicans here in the US would certainly label many of their policies as “socialist’ if they were proposed here.

          Very high taxes, massive universal social safety net, workforce mostly unionized,etc.

          • “Very high taxes, massive universal social safety net, workforce mostly unionized,etc.”

            And we can say the same thing about the US, can’t we?

            Do you remember the unions’ role during the GM crisis, for example? There is also a massive universal social safety, probably the largest in the world (medicare, “food stamps”, obamacare, usajobs.gov, government funded universal primary and secondary education, some state universities like the University of California also exist, “projects” being built all over the country with public funding, to name a few).

            And if you compare the amount of taxes a company must pay in Sweden and in the US, you will see that it’s not that different (the profit tax is lower in Sweden, mind you).

            http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/sweden/#paying-taxes

            http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/united-states#paying-taxes

          • Maybe the degree of economic freedom and democracy is all that’s left to be used as measure of how “right-wing” or “left-wing” a country is. By applying this logic, we may say that both Sweden and the US are on the right of a country like Venezuela, for example.

          • 75% of the workforce in Sweden is unionized, compared to less than 10% in the US.

            Largest social safety net in the world? That’s just not true. The only way you can even get close to that is because health care costs are much higher than in any other developed country, and if you just look at costs instead of the actual ‘net’ itself..
            -“Obamacare”, and the US health care system, is very different than Sweden’s health care system. Without getting into the details, let’s suffice to say that in US more private money by itself,and public money by itself, is spent on health care per capita than total health care (private and public) spending in Sweden. And in Sweden no one goes bankrupt from medical bills, nor do they forego doctor visits because they can’t afford it.
            -usajobs.gov is a place where postings for open government jobs are listed, as required by law. Most position gets more than 1000 applications. How is that part of a safety net?
            -State universities in the US still cost a ton of money; they are not free at all.

            Let’s put it this way, if you were born poor or became poor, you would absolutely much rather be born in Sweden.

            Anyway, i think our different conceptions of right and left are causing us to disagree when in reality we agree. “Hard left” policies don’t work. What works is an economy driven by the free market (with moderate regulation), institutions, rule of law, and democratic lawmakers beholden to a population educated enough to avoid the siren of populism.

      • Rory,

        Am not arguing that the Swedes don’t have it pretty good. But, they also have very high taxes. Having the government take that much of your money is a “loss of personal liberty”. That the Swedish government uses that money pretty well, and benefits the entire society is beside the point. There is always a tradeoff between security and personal liberty. The trick is finding the right balance between the two for each society. What works for the Swedes, doesn’t necessarily work for LatAm.

        • The catch is that average per capita income in developed countries is high. This means that even a highly progressive tax leaves everyone well off. This is not true if average per capita income is low, as in developing countries. There redistribution will “hurt” wealthy folks relatively more.

        • In a way gini coefficients are unfair because they don’t account for purchase power parity, and make someone who’d be average middle class anywhere else come across as an exploitationist tyrant.

    • And in selling their proposals, politicians always manage to gloss over the negative and unintended consequences.

      Overall, beautifully expressed sentiments, Roy. But Jeeez, the reproduced sentence brings to mind lots of other players in market that gloss over the negative and unintended consequences. Like certain Wall Street analysts trying to market or avoid the sale of Vennie bonds — with the help of valley-girl fans with pom-poms on the sidelines.

      • Yep… Just like governments, everything we do in life has consequences. But, the consequences of what governments do affect more people, which makes their responsibility that much greater.

    • Totally agree, a chilean “liberal” thinker called Mauricio Rojas say once when he came to CEDICE, that liberalism in ecomnomics doesn’t mean that government will not apply public policy to help people, but that it would help people in a way that they can choose an put as an example the Voucher system proposed by Milton Friedman as a system that helps “poor” people to pay for education or Healtcare but don’t enforce them to choose the “public option”.

      I just say this as an complimentary vision of what you said. The problem with leftist government is that they almost always believe that people should use the public option and that, as you said, produce distortions in the society, in economy but also in social issues (i’ll put Chilean education reform, Brazil approach to oil handling and Ecuador regulations on “artistic products” as examples)

    • That comment sends the message that, even if the government receives directly 97 percent of all the exports of a nation during a export boom, you could still have a great government and a great country.

      Sorry I do not buy that… that is the standard “quítate-tu-pa-ponerme-yo-donde-haya” speech.

      PS. Had Ecuador not been saved by having the dollar and not the Sucre… “another cock would have sung”

      • Gotta agree, the bigger deal is that a relatively powerless government such as Ecuador’s can do less harm than a government that has done everything possible to amass productive sectors and centralize all power including monetary policy. Could really be though that Correa is authentically more reasonable and has played a smart hand in circumventing pressure from the left. That Correa says that he did not have the political power to go back to the Sucre sounds like a convenient way to dodge the issue.

      • You can have a great government and a great country if the government receives 97% of all the exports of a nation during an export boom.

        For example, if it invest it to ensure that windfall is going to be put to develop an economy where that is no longer the regular case.

        • As the first Diversification Manager of the Venezuela Investment Fund in the 70’s, and who resigned in protest after only two weeks having been “asked” to immediately endorse some huge investment wishes by Miraflores… I know that is not possible in a country which combines democracy and urgent needs of its people and the many urgent personal appetites of those governing.

          And don’t give me the Norway example. The tax man in Norway gets more income from gasoline taxes per barrel of oil, than what Norway gets selling its oil, even with a price of oil over $100 per barrel.

  5. Great comment on Santos in the video, “the only ambidextrous president in the region”, able to “have breakfast with the guerrillas” and later on “share a bandejita [paisa] with Obama”.

  6. Well, at least one true socialist can argue that the Chavistas are more loyal and closer to the leftist classic theory coming from Karl Marx (economics) and Trotsky (politics) – among others – than their peers in other South American countries. In fact, I’ve already seen leftists calling these other governments “sell-outs” and “Empire’s pawns”.

    However, for a unknown reason the caviar left living in the developed world tend to believe that macrochaos is not something preached in socialist books.

  7. So, leftists governments are good if they manage to keep the economy running okay no matter the economic distortions that they always induce? You have a little leftist heart, don’t you?

    • Something like: “You know what? Socialism can function if we just ignore what our great socialist thinkers wrote and told us to do. Maduro failed because he applied socialism too literally.”

      F-Toro has been pushing this same button for more than a year now.

      • Every.
        Single.
        Venezuelan.

        Is a communist down his soul. They are desperate to “do socialism right”. If it weren’t for the usefulness of having a right hand to eat, write and give handshakes, all venezuelans would chop theirs right away.

        Born lefties.

        • Yeah, it’s not that socialism can’t work and should be flushed down the toilet FOR EVER! No, no, no! That’s impossible to be conceived, because it would be just too painful for their tired socialist hearts!
          They still “want to believe it”, they still have a “dream”.

          So, they engage in endless imagination exercises to “do socialism right”. They go back to the drawing board and start: “If you chop that insanity like Evo did, and if you cut that other bullshit like Correa did, and if you go full Xiaoping in that other issue etc. etc. etc. then it MIGHT WORK!”

          For them, the solution for the socialist problem should be found inside socialism!

          And It’s really narrow-minded if you think about it, because they just can’t accept that their ideology might be the root of all evils.

  8. More or less, yes. I know many people dont find the idea appealing at all over here, but you can even have good, democratic, pluralistic left goverments managing the economy well and managing to improve the conditions of the masses.

    But when you elect a bunch of lunatic raving idiots, they can be right, left, center or in 11-dimensional space, the result is going to be a fucking disaster. Half of them are uneducated and the other half is fanatical, what do you expect, they are incapable of actually government in the sense of kubérnēsis, of “guiding a ship”. That requires not being blinded by ideology and hatred and being capable of a flexible approach depending on what the danger is; this are the kind of guys that after proving to themselves that an iceberg is an oligarch fiction designed to oppress the people, proceed full steam to crash into it.

  9. Thanks for this, Francisco. I liked it so much I decided to finally comment after following Caracas Chronicles for two years, ever since I “converted” from Chavismo to an opposition perspective. The opposition in Venezuela is also very mixed, as some here don’t want to acknowledge and are, like me, self-identified as on the left (anarchists, social democrats, democratic socialists, etc). The right wing that posts here too often takes a very simplistic swipe at the left (the mirror image of Maduro, for whom all the opposition is “ultraderecha”) without acknowledging the diversity that characterizes the entire political spectrum, left and right. I like the subtlety of firm analysis, which is why I always read your work — and Nagel’s, also, even if he seems to the right of you — you both have in common a critical, non-doctrinaire perspective that is fair and even-handed. Keep writing: it’s always good to see you back here at Caracas Chronicles!

    • Having plenty of lefty kinfolk I understand the subtleties you propose, but where I have trouble with recognized currents of the left:
      -Maoism and all its incarnation in south east Asia.
      -Communism and all their manifestations in Eastern Europe.

      Closer to home:
      -Peruvian APRA as it governed between 1985-1990 with Alan Garcia.
      -Fidelismo going strong since 59!!
      -Kichnerismo
      -And our common favorite: Chavismo.

      Of course we have Felipe Gonzalez, Ollanta Humala, Lula Da Silva, Pepe and Bachellet. Vargas Llosa calls them the ‘smart left’, and given their performance, I will agree.

      Funny things is that many lefties will call the ‘smart left’ feckless sellouts 🙂 Read Aporrea!

      However, it is difficult to disown the first group from the ranks of the left. Furthermore, many of my lefty kinfolk cannot call a spade a spade (for example admit that Fidel is Tyrannosaurus of the same magnitude of Stroessner).

      It seems that left wing ideologies are EASILY hijacked into pretty brutal performances (in fact there are some religions that seem to have the same ailment as of late).

      Don’t get me wrong, I am all for social justice, self determination… apple pie and motherhood. And I am also aware that open societies with market economies are not panacea to corruption and stupidity.

      • Don’t forget Velazquismo in Peru, Peronismo in Argentina (Yes Peron governed left too), PRI in Mexico, Getulio Vargas in Brazil, even Trujillo had some leftist policies. In America (the Latin one) there has never been a right excercise except in Chile with Pinochet. However, I do think that open societies altough they could have corruption, it’s much easier to be checked. It’s like murder, you cannot root it out from human nature, however what you can do is a correct system of check and balances that necessarily must be weighted in the lights of personal freedom, freedom to choose.

  10. The following is a rant , we all need to have a rant from time to time , doesnt mean that all we say in our rant is wise or perfect but it reflects a state of mind where sometimes some truths come out that are normally silenced because we live fettered by all kinds of social conventions .

    Too much stress on ideology doesnt guarantee good competent high performance governance , more likely it hinders it , ideological tags ( and their rethorical eye catching slogans) grab our attention more than they deserve and distract us from the nuts and bolts of the fundamental job of governments., which involves managing resources , planning ahead , running organizations etc. just like a corporate manager . We want a government that functions , that delivers , that acts responsibly and workmanlike rather than one which does heroic and saintly things to endear itself to the masses .

    I would divide the functions of governemnt in two , one which has to do with the basic housekeeping jobs of all governments in providing services , keeping the currency stable , fostering economic growth and not threading on the freedoms of those people who do these jobs well .and another which has to do with that blood sport of confrontational partisan politics . of pleasing the folks so you gain their love and can get elected or reelected .

    In a democracy everything hinges on being popular, on feeling that one is the beloved of plain folk, that they deserve everything , that anything that makes them content no matter how inurious to the future health of the country has to be done. Thus the phenomena of populism which exists both in left wing and centre or even right wing governments if they depend on peoples votes to access or retain power.

    Maybe we have to conceive of govt as involving the performance of two jobs , one for which we need democracy to keep tabs on things and make people shout in emotion for the grand things they advertise and promise and another that simply has to take care of the humdrum jobs of keeping a society working and which needs less democracy and more meritocracy or technocracy .

    Popular pols are sometimes great as showmen but they can also serve a function as comptrollers of the abuses of others in the realm of government , they usually are terrible at running things but can be good at holding people who run things accountable for their excesses or mistakes . So dont assumme that just because some are good at appealing to peoples passions and likes they will be good at achieving a government houskeeping jobs, but at last they will make a lot of noise when someone abuses things or engages in misdeeds.

    If we have learned anything from these years is that most people are incompetent at judging what constitutes good government and instead are taking in by the jokster and entertainer with the grand oratorical skills and chummy demenour who professes to love you sincerely with all his heart.

    In other countries you have a BBC or a Justice Sytem , or an Army , or a Civil Service or a School system , or a Central Bank , of A finance Ministry that operates totally outside the boundaries of partisan or ideological politics . When they exist they work much better than when they are at the service of political or ideological agendas . If so why dont we learh from those countries and institutional un democratic meritocratic systems of governance at least to take care of those government jobs where its proven than popularity doenst do any good in guiding your decisionmaking .

  11. I think both the left and the right are guilty of a misnomer. This is a militarist or fascist regime. Or narco-militarist/fascist. And the incompetence transcends ideological lines. I think Russia is more the model, rather than Cuba, notwithstanding Cuba’s obvious interest and influence.

  12. I don’t think it’s healthy to put Correa and Evo on a pedestal just by being pragmatic on economic matters.

    They’re still neodictadores bananeros who clinched power by democratic means to stay forever.

    • And yet compared with Chavistas… As the article says, a pragmatic asshole that at least knows how to avoid crashing the country is one (bad) thing, the red festival of the clueless and the rabid is another level of bad

  13. In Ecuador and Bolivia, opposition parties are being looked down on and freedom of speech is always threatened but their economy is healthy, so the aforesaid has to be looked away.

    This is wrong and it ain’t new. It’s the same mindset that prevailed among us during the XX century to justify right-wing regimes such as Juan Vicente Gómez’s and Marcos Pérez Jiménez’s. No wonder chavismo isn’t the only reason we haven’t been able to enter the XXI century.

    • Again, I dont think anybody is saying “look away”. The point is what it is said; that Venezuela is a complete outlier. Not that the rest are rosy paradises to be emulated, but that how come we got the most inept, deluded and completly crazy bunch of them.

      • If to follow socialist theory ipsis litteris is to be “crazy”, then yeah, the Chavistas are the craziest of them all. But at least they are showing that they really believe in their ideology.

        • They not only believe in socialist theories but also in imposing it to everyone else in Venezuela despite being proven to lead the country to failure. I’m sorry but romantic defenses can’t hold on their own.

      • The answer is simple: the least inept, deluded and crazy bunch of them burned themselves out after allying with Rafael Caldera in 1996.

  14. Rafael Correa is NOT an economist from Harvard. He holds a masters degree from Louvain University (Belgium) and a PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois. While is true that Mr Correa is less of a savage than his thuggish Venezuelan peers…It sickens me when nowadays we have to applaud or elevate the status of the leftists commies who are not ruining their respective countries like they’re doing in Venezuela:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafael_Correa

    • Epa! Acaso Correa no estudió en el exterior? Entonces, qué diferencia hay entre eso y los estudios en Jarvar?
      Otro ejemplo de la falta de seriedad en ciertas aras periodísticas.
      Perdóname pero este “Profesor Briceño” y las carcajadas de fondo no me impresionan. Mamarrachera para un pueblo inexigente.

  15. You are giving the mamarachos too much credit. They are not running any thing, they are being put there as puppets to make believe there is a government and they are making decisions.

    For the fundamental issues of security, immigration, justice, registry, military and media control decisions are made elsewhere. These mamarrachos are left to play in their level, stealing all they are able to steal, which is much less of what is skimmed at the top.

    El pueblo mira el circo, y espera migajas nada mas….

  16. There is a major difference between the Venezuelan government and the government of all the other latinamerican countries: in Venezuela we do not have a leftist government, we have a military government.

    That, my friends, makes all the difference.

    • I would add more precision. The military in Venezuela has been co-opted by what passes as the left, dressed in military fatigues and ruling from an island, over 2100 Km away

  17. El berrinchudo Correa ha sido acusado varias veces de corrupto en Ecuador y se ha pasado metiendo leyes para destruir la libertad de expresión para seguir manteniendo en una caja negra el manejo de los fondos públicos, lo cual no es muy diferente de lo que está haciendo el Evo en Bolivia.

    El peo es que acá los ladrones son tan lambucios, que se roban hasta las pocetas y los materos, podrán decir que la 4ta era una mierda (y en muchos aspectos lo fué), pero los ladrones de la 4ta sabían que no podían descuartizar la gallina de los huevos de oro (Y el que diga lo contrario, bueno, no había cola para comprar comida, ni racionamiento de luz/agua, ni hiperinflación oficial de 90% y real de 350% ni colectivos ni nada de esa mierda)

    Recuerden el chiste del Conde que decía “Los de antes tocaban cuatro, salpicaba para todos lados, pero los de ahora tocan arpa, no dejan para nadie.” Y tiene razón, roban tanto, que no queda para un carajo.

    • “Y el que diga lo contrario, bueno, no había cola para comprar comida, ni racionamiento de luz/agua, ni hiperinflación oficial de 90% y real de 350% ni colectivos ni nada de esa mierda)”

      That’s what I don’t get about the revolution’s supposed achievements. Whenever I tried to talk about Venezuela with socialists, they have always brought the “economic inclusion of the poor”: a supposed “decrease in income inequality and poverty” that would have justified the dark side of the government – the political repression and censorship.

      But hell, when you don’t have electricity, water; must queue for hours to buy basic goods, which are in shortage; inflation is out of control, and the colectivos are out to kill you, then you don’t have ANYTHING! The supposed achievements are NONE! They are a complete FARCE!

      It’s like the matrix movie. blue pill or red pill?
      What do you choose to believe?
      What you see in the streets with your own eyes and suffer on a daily basis or what Maduro lie to you?

  18. Pa parler! lo que los rusos no gastaron en portaviones con su pipi chiquito gastaron en la izquierda!, olleme indio!;

    Ahora con Ukrania y Europa que podia tener un coste de oleo de invierno viene la caida, no se que conio le hicieron los rusos a los Saudis o al revez, que sera, pero Venezuela, recuerda, eres punta de lanza, todavia te usan!, arma de doble filo!

  19. What distinguishes the Venezuelan Regime from the Correa and Evo govts is not ideology or a more virulent authoritarian agenda. its the utter incompetence of the former, its crass incapacity to manage even the most elementary economic or public functions of government

    .Also Chavez personality was megomaniacal and hubristic in the extreme , he saw himself as omnicompetent and god like in his power to bring about momentous changes, despite his total ignorance of what they implied .This made him take many reckless decisions which no one dared contradict. He had no sense of limits , maybe his command of almost limittless oil resources helped feed this morbid hubristic streak.

    His legacy to the present regime included the consequences of many of his decisions while drunk on the bloated sense of his own magnificent omnipotence . In contrast I sense that Correa and Evo have a healthier sense of the limitations which a small economically vulnerable country must face , so they are more careful or cautious of the measures they take .

    What this blog underscores is the fact that every govt is judged on the basis of two different report cards or yardsticks, one measures their economic , and practical performance and the other the level of their respect or disrespect for human rights and political freedoms .and that any regime (left or right) can score well in one score card whilst failing miserably in the other . The case in Venezuela is that our regime has failed miserably under both score cards.

    • Bill,

      The primary difference between Venezuela and practically every other country in the world is that its citizens and their production are superfluous to the income of the regime. The fact that other countries such as Bolivia and Ecuador rely on the production of its citizens and the taxes collected from them provide some degree of the “accountability” discussed above. The Venezuelan regime has no such accountability. According to polls, 75% of Venezuelans are very dissatisfied with their government. Does the regime care about that? Does it affect their income? Not really.

      • Yes. Maybe the best hope for Venezuelan democracy and its economy is a state oil company in ruins and an extended period of low oil prices.

        • Yeah, it may sound paradoxical at first, but every person who cares about Venezuela should desire a PDVSA in ruins and even lower oil prices. Only then things will start to change.

          • Agreed.
            But, we hear nothing about changing the model of the petro-state in the public discourse.

            We hear versions of “I can be a better populist”, or ” we need a new government, but no change to the underlying structures…”

          • But I believe that this is a discussion to have after the Chavistas get removed from office, Luis.

            Right now, the combo broken PDVSA/low oil prices is having the effect of breaking the regime’s both legs, because that’s the only thing left masking the regimes’ total incompetence.

            We are very close from a “the emperor has no clothes” moment. I can’t wait.

      • Roy : We had oil before and we never reached the nadir of ruin and misery that this Regime has brought on all of us , its a question of degree. If we had no oil what kind of economy would we have?, would we be like colombia or like central america ?, I fear that the idea that we would have developed a thriving economy or a prosperous society is not very credible , before oil we were very poor , poorer than almost all other latin american nations (Asdrubal Baptista dixit) , we ve never had an army of hard working inventive entrepeneurs or visionary economic elites only military caudillos who practiced clientelism and corruption with as much abandon as our current leaders . In poverty taxes dont amount to much. Dont blame the oil , blame our incapacity as a society to deal with it and use it rationally to improve our lot, and our penchant to use it to destroy ourselves , basically because of the vices of our leaders . We have to rethink our relationship with Power and with the Oil that nature has bequeathet to us

  20. interesting notion, what the guy at the video and the author of this post seems to be ignoring, is the amount of petro dollars that were given by Chavez, that might as well be the source of their “luck”. Because they just got lucky.

    From what I could see in this post and comments, is leftist people trying to avoid labeling the thugs in charge of Venezuelan Government as what they really are, leftist. In their self deluded mind, and in their arrogant way, they think they know better, and that socialism might work if they manage to get people to implemented the thing correctly.

    • Blaming socialism or the left for anything that ever turns out bad would completely destroy all of its credibility as a viable option to “improve the people’s life” and the idiot-luring trap would stop working.

      • you are joking right? everything that happened in Venezuela was applied in the name of socialism, and the left has implemented had their way to implement every crazy idea they had, from Stalin to Mao, to shit to Fidel. I mean everything, and yet there are still people clinging to a worthless ideology, that for that matter, does not have not one single accomplishment in the history of mankind.

        Free market and capitalism, in the other is the only alternative out there that manage to mobilize billions of people from poverty. That is a incontrovertible fact.

  21. A la final el secreto, es que siempre hay alguien para ser izquierda y para ser derecha, y los, pensantes, se tienen que partir las bolas con la idea de dios para hacer un mundo! unos latam pensarian que unos cabos razos nos salvarian, son solo hijos con alta chapa maldita con los de la guerra fria exprimiendo!

    Chimo, mal tabaco
    Chimbo. mal uso de la gymnastia militar, que paso. que paso, solo pa suki suki hoi sirven!

  22. pues , oleo vovlvera a s subir, los thai Y chai inundando laos por energia aguatica, que pena o que bolas lo que los militaes y policias y demas hay que aguantar! que paso brasil, lo que paso paso no? no para los mios aprender de izquierda y derecha, y bueno color de la piel!

    A la maldita black hat de sony hack que da risas en aspectos ponte el sombrero! a que flor le toca florecer?

  23. So much minds getting into a mush Fook Yoo, Si fueran parte del gobierno, como si no mandariamos a la carcel noruega jeje, ha hacer mejor! Dame el guarie como un ducto agua negra y metro! no mas kayak o les das chance falso?

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