In 2014, a consortium of Venezuelan universities launched a yearly research project to rigorously document social conditions in the country. They called it Encovi —the Encuesta de Condiciones de Vida, or Living Conditions Survey. Last year, it surveyed 6,168 people nationwide, in detail, on a wide range of social matters: income, nutrition, education, personal safety, the state of their homes, etc.

It’s the kind of data that used to be public. As a matter of fact, the government still conducts a detailed yearly Household Survey — it’s just that it refuses to publish the results. 

Faced with official opacity, the universities had to pick up the slack. 

Encovi is our best data-driven look at social conditions in Venezuela today, a critical institution amid a drought of official data. Because while it’s easy enough to see it’s bad out there, “bad” ain’t good enough for Social Science: if you want to know how bad, you need data.

Poverty

The headline figure is that, by income, 87% of Venezuelans were poor in 2017.

And a shocking 61.2% were living in Extreme Poverty.

The poverty figure always gets tons of press attention, but it’s also one of the trickiest to produce and to interpret.

In a high inflation economy, income poverty is almost impossible to get right: with prices doubling every month or two, it’s easy to see that many people’s incomes will be just above the poverty line right after a wage hike only to fall back below it in very little time. 

In a high inflation economy, income poverty is almost impossible to get right.

Amid this much economic instability, the indicator becomes finicky: your number can vary a lot depending on whether you do the survey a few days earlier or later. And if you set up your poverty line just a little bit differently, you can get a very different figure.

But in a way none of the caveats matter, because whether it’s 87% or 91% or 93%, all of those translate to “basically everybody.” With inflation turning hyper in the last two months of last year, that “basically” soon becomes redundant: chavismo’s made everybody poor.

This becomes painfully clear when you ask a stark question: “do you consider your family’s income enough to buy food to consume inside and outside the home?”

89.4% say “No.”

People just don’t have enough money.

A lot of the people who turn out to be poor aren’t the kinds of people you’d classically think of as poor.

Alongside “income poverty” (do you make enough money?), Encovi also looks at “structural” poverty. This approach looks at “unsatisfied basic needs” to construct a poverty  measure that’s less exposed to month-to-month volatility. Structural poverty measures things like education, whether your home has dirt floors, whether you have a fridge or a washing machine, whether you have access to sewers and electric service, etc.

To be sure, many fewer people are “structurally poor” than “income poor.” Or, to put it differently, almost two out of every three poor Venezuelans are recently impoverished.

A lot of this is the classic “ex-middle class” story: people who went to school, live in middle-class looking buildings, have middle-class sounding jobs, but don’t make enough money to feed themselves and their families.

Nutrition

The crisis has made hunger almost universal.

61% of surveyed people went to sleep hungry because they didn’t have enough money to purchase food. Encovi considers 80% of homes to be food insecure. 

As for what people is eating, the news are bad: The survey shows people’s weekly purchases of food focus mainly on carbs, such as tubers, pasta and rice. The dramatic decrease of protein buying -and consumption- to favor cheaper but less nutritious food that started in 2016 continued last year.

The result is a less varied diet that could put people’s health at risk.

A low protein intake means malnutrition. Some other diseases like anemia might increase, as corn flour -enriched- is less available. But even in terms of calories, people can’t afford enough: 64% of respondents are still losing bodyweight.

And while somewhat fewer people report losing weight (64% in 2017, vs. 74% in 2016) those people who are losing weight are losing more weight: 11.4 kg., vs. 8.9 kg. The year before.)

Health

Venezuela’s performance on  maternal deaths is cataloged as the worst in Latin America since 1998.

While most of prenatal care is given at public hospitals or outpatient clinics, 45% is done privately. A very large number considering it is the state’s responsibility to provide mechanisms that serve as protection for women’s health. And health inequalities persist: women in the poorest quintile are less than half as likely to get a prenatal check in the first two months than women in the best off quintile.

The survey also found over 68% of people don’t have medical insurance: We are dealing with a crippled public health system and also with most of the population being financially unprotected to cope with disease and its complications.

Dependence

What’s really shocking is the conjunction of income poverty with dependence on state-subsidized food distribution. A staggering 87.5% of households now receive CLAPs subsidized food handouts:

ENCOVI won’t come out and quite say it, but we will: a country where almost nobody can afford to buy enough food at market prices and almost everybody depends on politicized food distribution is a country of slaves.

What’s most disturbing is that, if you live outside Greater Caracas, it’s very likely you don’t have any clear idea when the next CLAPs box is coming:

Emigration

Encovi asked if people have had a member of their families leave the country over the last five years. They actually find somewhat smaller migration numbers than other sources that have been making the rounds. Just 8.5% of households have had, on average, 1.2 members leave the country since 2012. That works out to 815,000 people leaving the country since 2012 — significantly, with the vast bulk leaving in 2016 and 2017.

This is a two-edge sword: it suggests mass migration is barely gotten going thus far. Many, may more people are still around and needing a way out. It won’t surprise you to know that better off people migrate more, as do caraqueños.

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72 COMMENTS

  1. These are the kinds of cold hard facts that Chavismo labors to bury in the bottom of Salto Angel. Everyone backing socialismo is rooting for more of the same – or they’re living ok while others suffer, and they don’t give a fuck. My sense of it is as the situation further erodes, a larger margin of collectivos and military/Nat Guard/Security folk will start starving as well, and things will get interesting from there, but probably not before. The powers that be are still not feeling the pinch,not like it’s listed above.

  2. This is what will finally expel the Genocidal Tyranny (or “Government, as CC writers insist on calling the Kleptocratic Dictatorship) – Hunger, misery, (It’s the Economy, Stupid). That and my buddy Rex, when the USA decides to Strangle the Criminal Regime by cutting off the 40$ Million per day.

  3. “It won’t surprise you to know that better off people migrate more, as do caraqueños.”

    And it won’t surprise you either that it is, by faaaaar, the better educated people, and the most valuable people, skilled professionals, entrepreneurs, that got the hell out.

    Precisely according the the Sinister Castro-Chavista Brain-Drain Master Plan. The educated critics, out. The uneducated, the Chavista Enchufados (Millions at all levels) and the old or very young sheep stay. Perfect.

    And please, kindly send your Remesas on time!

  4. A true study of the “better off” emigration # would surely include legal residence applications and overstayed tourist visas to other countries, plus asylum requests. These are official figures that every country knows, so why in the world would you even try to determine this via a sample survey?

    The poor getting out by foot, road and train…I have no idea how you calculate.

    But in either case, you’re not going to get a true number by asking in VZ.

  5. Well, for what it’s worth, at least in this area, the problems are even affecting the alta-chavistas as well.

    I was out front the other day using the ever-present easterly wind to help me clean some of the trash out of the latest batch of maiz trillado I recieved and approaching me from the school was a face I recognized, but the body I did not. It was Nene, the husband of the head of the local consejo comunal. I was astounded to see him…..I guess it’d been 9 months or so since he last came by.

    “Nene, my god, how much weight have you lost?”, I asked. “30 kilos”, he responded.

    30 frickin’ kilos!!!!! Think about that. He had a rope tied around his waist to keep his pants from falling off. And the wife? “She’s lost a lot of weight too, but you know those chavistas, they’ve got the genes”, he said with a smile. His wife showed up later in the day looking for cash from a transfer, and while she’s lost a lot of weight too, nothing like her husband.

    Here in the sticks we’re close to food production. There’s a lot less of it being produced, but food is still trickling in. My woman has added ñame to her list of edibles she’s selling…..it’s a big-ass tuber or root that they grow in the mountains nearby. They use it in soup mainly. Pure starch I’d imagine. Toss in some auyama, and a few red bones for flavoring and they get by.

    https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%91ame

    Anyway, we’re close to at least some food production. I can’t imagine what those folks are doing in the barrios above Caracas for sometihng to eat. Everything’s got be brought there some distance by truck and if the trucks are even servicable, they’re getting robbed on the highways. The country is absolutely FUBAR.

    • But at least no victims with the Petro ponzi; just dumb-asses. And I doubt the poor folks in the barrios will lose any money in petros.

    • JFE – Good question, hard answer unless one is deeply involved in putting poverty under a microscope and performing clinical tests. Academicians have spent a lot of time writing papers about all of this (I just tried reading several pages of that spout, and came up with an approximate approximation descriptive of one subset of interior dynamics considered in the labwork on the fecal collateral of socialist hypothesis applied in practice, and my findings show that “inertial poverty” has something to do with a study sample which is above PL (poverty line) but still has UBN (unmet basic needs), which study sample then finds that by the “indirect method of measures” (income level) it has more income, but still has UBN and thus is above the PL but may in the future be subject to a decline in income which again would place the sample in question below PL … etc.).

      The virtue of the article here is that it manages to make sense of the whole thing and describe something, as opposed to sitting back in a carrel poking at the poor with erudite studies which accomplish nothing more than a PhD grant. I hope the author offers a better definition than what I managed to glean, at considerable expense to my common sense IQ and to the detriment of my tolerance of “study papers” – these people seem to think that by microscopic analysis they can arrive at some useful actions in a manner physicians study smaller and smaller cells and viruses to arrive at a way to either enhance or kill. They would do much better studying how people increase their incomes and how political structures and principles of economics promote higher standards of living – and defining parameters such as levels and types of education as well as family structure support.

      I note that none of the studies I read, as much as I could stomach, actually offered any practical solutions, but instead seem to be oriented towards study and more study under auspices of universities and world bodies such as the United Nations and World Bank and the authors seem much, much more interested in showing off degrees than in actually doing anything like promoting free market capitalism and vehemently opposing any socialist “approach”. No doubt the authors vote a socialist ticket.

      Thank you for your attention. As before, I shall now return to my favorite hobby: pulling the wings off flies.

      • Gringo, maybe you can pull together your deeply felt skepticism about academia and intellectual inquiry with your thoughts about national identity and blood and soil. I see a theme developing here, with the new Caracas Chronicles commenters (new as in, within the past year or so), that just needs a little more fleshing out. Maybe you could put it in a longer piece called: My Struggle (with Caracas Chronicles).

        • It must be a terribly tedious and time-consuming burden for you, having to look down your nose at the great unwashed and ignorant masses around you.

          I’ll keep you in my prayers.

          • Right. We can write disgusting comments about our superiority to suffering Venezuelans, but god forbid we have to listen to any uppity foreigners around here.

          • Cannuck, why does it bother you so much when someone points out what they believe is part of the problem? Are you saying that it’s an illegitimate, argument to suggest that at least some of the Venezuelan population is responsible for this cluster fuck of biblical proportions?

            You come here constantly to criticize other posters but since your last suggestion of giving constitutional means a chance to resolve this disaster, I’ve not seen any other ideas on your part, only insults. Maybe you’ve posted a bunch of ideas and I’ve just missed ’em, dunno. Are you done with ideas?

          • You’re brilliant MRubio. What part of “A country of willing slaves” (Wanley, Esq) is pointing out that what someone believes is – in your words- “part of the problem”? What “ideas” lie in that comment?

            You’ve written similar dreck, repeatedly.

            And if you want to address points I made months ago, why don’t you at least get them right? Well, that would be fair, wouldn’t it?

            It would be fair like giving you an opportunity to explain how you square your regular tax remittances to the Maduro regime, which are being used to fund CLAP boxes, voting machines for fake elections, Tibisi’s smile you can’t get enough of, weapons used on people engaged in protest, et cetera, with your broad, extremist opinions about others you judge to be supporting this regime.

          • What ideas lie in Wanley’s comment? The idea that anyone who willingly supports this regime, and they probably number at least 20% or more of the general population who are hard-core chavistas, who have done their part to enslave the entire country by continuing to turn out for pro-government marches, vote in sham elections, and generally cheer on the regime as long as they get enough food and extra free goodies.

            What’s wrong with that concept? Are you really going to tell us such people don’t exist? Or that they exist but they’re not part of the problem? Splain yourself man. Use some of those $10 words you’re so proud to use.

            And speaking of ideas, I owe you an apology. You have mentioned an idea recently……a good one in fact……a work stoppage. It would work I believe…..but those same fucking people that Wanley is talking about still go to work and still keep the government doors open for Maduro. Are they not part of the problem, cannuck? If they shut the country down, and they could, would that topple that fucker Maduro? I bet it would. You would make the same bet because you say you’ve seen it before.

            Finally, taxes. You keep harping on that when you know nothing about the tax structure here in Venezuela. I’ve told you, the only tax I’ve ever seen collected by the Seniat is an IVA (value-added) tax on some invoices and I can’t remember the last time I paid for an item and was given an official invoice. You’re hell-bent to make me part of the problem, that’s fine, maybe by living here and producing something for these people to eat I am part of the problem, but by paying an IVA tax every 5 years on some item, my contribution to Maduro is a akin to a drop in the ocean.

            People here and abroad are frustrated and at their wits end Cannuck. Most probably still have family members here who are suffering more with each passing day. I don’t blame them one bit for lashing out at those who continue to support this regime. You should be equally as pissed in my humble opinion.

          • Your appeal to the suffering of people as a shield for indefensible remarks about Venezuelans is pretty much par for the course. These comments about how the “valuable” people have all left, leaving the old and very young “sheep” (Poeta Criollo)? I don’t know what online universe of sociopaths you hang around besides your buddies here, but these are not comments that reflect caring or concern. They reflect ignorance and hate.

            Sure there are extremist Maduro supporters. Why don’t you talk about extremist Maduro supporters instead of casting everyone broadly as the willing participants in their own ideologically motivated destruction?

            If we are talking about unwitting supporters of the regime, why don’t you spare a comment for the extremist etho-nationalist nutbars here, like Gringo, Wanley, et cetera, giving chavismo its propaganda lines?

            Thanks for the apology. I’ve been talking about the power of a strike to bring down this regime for years here, as well as other non-violent action which is broadly considered constitutionally sanctioned (as distinct from killing people). Will it happen? I don’t know. Can it work? Yes.

            I do not have intimate knowledge of the Venezuelan tax system, but I know people and businesses in Venezuela are taxed, to a significant degree: personal, business, value added (IVA).

            If you don’t pay a lot of your taxes, I guess that means that the degree to which you have supported the activities of Nicolas Maduro and Hugo Chavez is less than the other guy, but not less than the many Venezuelans who own next to nothing now, and owned next to nothing back when, say, Poeta Criollo was parading around Caracas in his pastel sweater and pennyloafers under the IV Republic on the generous proceeds of something he did sweet bugger all to create.

            Which then begs what I think are interesting historical questions: who was originally responsible for Chavez and chavismo, and were they exactly the kind of people that you and your buddies are talking about, or was it a little more complicated than that?

          • “Which then begs what I think are interesting historical questions: who was originally responsible for Chavez and chavismo, and were they exactly the kind of people that you and your buddies are talking about, or was it a little more complicated than that?”

            I think the answer is quite simple, not complicated at all. The average Venezuelan believes in a free lunch. I have no idea how long that has been part of the culture, but it is the driving force of how politicians here interact with the population. What’s in it for me? Well voter, I’ll tell ya what’s in it for you.

            To me, socialism is such an integral part of Venezuelan society and culture that I’ve long said that the “extreme right” politician here would be left of center in the US. So, in short, I believe that the average Venezuelan’s love affair with socialism is what has gotten the country into this mess.

            Now, some questions for you? Do you ever see me talking about the best of society, the most “valuable”, having left, leaving behind only sheep or the ignorant? Ever hear me talk about Cubazuela, Kleptozuela….or any of the other names some here use? Have you? I think not. Criticize me for the comments I make but don’t lump me in with everyone else when everyone else has their own opinions and experiences.

            “Your appeal to the suffering of people as a shield for indefensible remarks about Venezuelans is pretty much par for the course.”

            A shield for indefensible remarks about Venezuelans? What the fuck are you talking about, what indefensible remarks have I made? Are you talking about my actual observations and questioning what would make a man steal his neighbor’s harvest? Does it bother you that a Venezuelan would do that, or that I dare mention it? I suspect what bothers you the most is that I have no problem calling a spade a spade and don’t try to go the touchy-feely route like you looking to lay the blame anywhere but where it belongs.

            “I do not have intimate knowledge of the Venezuelan tax system, but I know people and businesses in Venezuela are taxed, to a significant degree: personal, business, value added (IVA)”

            Cannuck, can you wrap your brain around the fact that most institutions in this country no longer function, haven’t functioned for along while, even the Seniat? There may have been a time when businesses and individuals were taxed to significant degree, but those days are long gone. Again, the only tax I’ve ever seen anyone pay is the IVA and that’s only when an official invoice is generated. Personal taxes? Ask most any Venezuelan about paying personal taxes and I bet he’ll laugh in your face. I can’t imagine any Venezuelan willingly writing a check to the government for a tax payment. Under what threat if they don’t? Venezuelans generally don’t even bother paying back bank loans. It’s a way of life cannuck, a cultural thing I guess. I’m sure it bothers you for me to say these things, but that’s the way it is. Don’t believe me, prove me wrong.

        • Hahaha. It’s funny because Canucklehead gets to claim those who disagree with him are like Fascists but he did it without directly using the term “Mein Kampf”!

          …..Except if you actually bothered READING Mein Kampf or other works by the NSDAP’s higher ups like I have, you’d notice they have No Praise Whatsoever for “Free Market Capitalism” like Gringo does.

          In fact, you’d notice that a bunch of their stuff- like “England’s Guilt” by Joseph Goebbels- reads very much like Chavista propaganda.

          You’d also note that for all of your brazen and incredibly cowardly attempts to paint anybody who supported Trump as being akin to Chavista supporters (even those of us who didn’t really like him but only voted for him as a lesser of evils?), it was the Far Left of American politics that tended to glorify him and his regime, as well as its’ allies like the Castros. Both then and now. Just ask Bernie Sanders.

          And if you had half as much respect or care about “academia and intellectual inquiry ” as your posturing and virtue signaling would have us believe, you would note that Deeply Felt Skepticism is an INTEGRAL INGREDIENT to both, and that INCLUDES skepticism about academia and intellectual inquiry themselves, as well as the institutions and procedures about them.

          Now can this be taken too far? Absolutely. There’s a difference between a healthy skepticism and rabid anti-intellectualism.

          But if you think for one instant that skepticism of the ivory towers ISN’T needed, the fact that a genocide denying, shameless, near-psychopathic liar like Noam Chomsky is still in good standing and has tenure should have undercut that. As should that one Professor (I can’t be asked to look up her name or official title because I value my time) who tried to claim that King Kong was an allegory about Black People under the logic that a bunch of posters at the time portrayed Blacks as big apes.

          Oh and her findings were supported by lots of in depth research about the author’s past.

          While apparently overlooking that

          A: The Author served in WWI.

          B: One of the most enduring American propaganda posters from WWI is “Destroy this Mad Brute”, an anti-German poster that portrays the *VERY WHITE* and White Supremacist Kaiser Wilehlm II as a big ape against the backdrop of a cityscape, Easily recognizable as a predecessor to King Kong in New York.

          (So apparently, Blacks weren’t the only thing being portrayed as big apes by cartoonists of this era).

          and

          C: One of the author’s avid, Self-Declared inspirations for King Kong was the memoirs of a French explorer and scientist in Equatorial Africa, in which he routinely employed Africans as support staff (especially porters) and had many encounters with great apes. And for whatever racist feelings he had towards them, he CLEARLY portrayed the two as different, with the latter being what helped motivate the author.

          This is the kind of stuff that this academic had to “conveniently” overlook in all her years of supposedly rigorous paid research, but which I the humble, fat internet autist was able to pull together in the span of a few dedicated minutes of looking online.

          Because I’m not employed by an academic field, and more importantly I’m not desperately trying to carve out a sinecure using my spin on the matter in order to keep teaching and being lauded by NPR until I keel over or retire.

          Does this mean that all academics are dishonest? That they are all liars? Or that they are all dumb? Perish the thought!

          But it does mean a good number of them are. Something that should be of absolutely no surprise to a student of history. And as thus they are worthy of our scrutiny.

          “Right. We can write disgusting comments about our superiority to suffering Venezuelans, ”

          I’m sorry, but if someone finds the “a country of willing slaves” comment to be disgusting, then perhaps they need to look in the mirror and then check a little about the logistics of it.

          And for the record, whether or not Wanley meant it as a snub to Venezuelans as a whole, I wholly reject the idea that it is an insult to all Venezuelans.

          Because I firmly believe there are no shortages of willing slaves in Canada, the US, France, Australia, and elsewhere. People who would gladly mortage their birthrights and freedoms to the right totalitarian shyster in exchange for “Bread and Circuses”, or even less as it turned out. Heck, the fact that the CPUSA is still around after all this time is a damning indictment of that fact.

          It’s just that their ability to surrender to such a totalitarian dictator and said dictator’s ability to undermine the constitution and other branches of law has been impaired.

          And there were plenty of Venezuelans who were not slaves, and were and ARE willing to struggle to avoid becoming them.

          But the same can be said for Hungarians, East Germans, Czechs, and Vietnamese.

          And true to form, they either fled abroad, were killed, or got imprisoned. Thus actively selecting against (if you’ll apologize my use of a mostly ecological term to describe a sociological event) the rebelious, the most desperate, the most freedm hungry, the Patrick Henrys who would say “Give me Freedom or Give Me Death.”

          Which means that as time goes on, the proportion of the population living in said country which consists of people who are willing to go along and submit to the dictatorship’s whims in order to get along Increases.

          Whether these are full throated, goose stepping collectivos who are loyal to this nightmare much like the most dedicated Blackshirts of my ancestral Italy or Mao’s Red Guards, or the others.

          People ranging from the caring and concerned who figure they have more to lose by standing up than by continuing on and trying to get theirs, to outright cowards. To the opportunistic regime spy.

          These people aren’t Evil, or at least not all or even most of them are. In the same way that actual slaves laboring in charnel houses from the Miss-a-sipp delta to Barbados to Brazil to Mesopotamia weren’t.

          But their passivity- for whatever reason, no matter how sympathetic or understandable- is aiding the system in keeping them enslaved.

          That this should be somehow controversial or outrageous to state to me goes well beyond the bounds of concern troll and into a self-parody of concern troll. If anything, it is integral to understanding how totalitarian regimes form and how they continue to exist, which means it’s important to understand how they can be weakened and Dismantled.

          The only things that are even Slightly controversial are twofold.

          A: The proportion of how much of the population falls into the various types. The anti-slaves, the go-along-to-get-along, the blackshirts, the collaborators, and so on. Especially since we don’t have access to the regime’s records yet (and I imagine they’ve been cooked more thoroughly and are less accurate than-say- those of the Stasi) so we can’t determine that yet.

          and

          B: What degree cultural traditions or way of life has on how the population breakdown of A works, and how much resistance or collaboration there is with the dictatorship.

          These are hot button topics and for damn good reasons, and it’s very easy to make an over-generalization and come across as an insensitive douche (especially if you’ve either lived in the heart of the beast and dealt with things Not Gong Well, or you’ve been observing the situation for a long time and are depressed by it).

          It’s also one major reason why I have held back from commenting for so long in spite of a couple years lurking,

          But that doesn’t mean there isn’t grounds to evaluate these or that they can be done fairly. Just that it’s a lot harder.

          “but god forbid we have to listen to any uppity foreigners around here.”

          Everybody’ who is uppity is a foreigner to someone.

          God doesn’t need to forbid us from listening to you. If he were that concerned, he would’ve prevented you from putting your foot in your mouth so blatantly.

          “Your appeal to the suffering of people as a shield for indefensible remarks about Venezuelans is pretty much par for the course. ”

          Except it’s not indefensible.

          And I’d be deeply interested and amused to see you TRY and point out what is.

          The idea that there is a large portion of totalitarian Chavista loyalists who are more than willing to support the government and keep it stable should surprise No-One and be controversial No-Where. The electoral results alone should have indicated that, and even more directly the regime’s ability to mobilize Collectivo paramilitaries (mobs really) and keep the loyalty of the military and some portions of society should underline that.

          In the first (rigged) post-WWII elections in Poland, which mostly took the form of three “Yes/No” the Soviets went through the genuine vote tallies after the fact and noted that there were about 25% or so of the populace who had voted that were willing to support the “Yes”/pro-Soviet position on all three issues.

          And so they realized that while their tyranny would be disapproved of by most, they had a solid base from which to work with and form a stable minority government with the support of massive Soviet aid from across the border. And that a sizable chunk of the population would go along to get along.

          It’s a bit rash to take transplant all of these exact findings onto the Venezuelan situation, but it does reiterate the point.

          There are plenty of collaborators among the Venezuelan Population who are ACTIVELY, fists-bloody, mouth-to-“Law Enforcement”‘s ear, aiding in the subjugation of their fellow citizens.

          And there are a far, far larger portion of people who are more or less passively accepting it for whatever reason.

          Are these facts hard to swallow? Yes, yes they are.

          They’re also not unique to Venezuela, and are important to understand Because of that. Just like not everybody in France was a Marquisard during the NatSoc occupation, not everybody in Venezuela is just waiting to rise up and overthrow the tyrants. And even fewer are prepared to take a risky runner in the dark with no promises of support.

          Because we know what happened then, don’t we?

          That’s not to say there is no passive resistance, there is. And it is important. But so far its’ effect has been that.

          “These comments about how the “valuable” people have all left, leaving the old and very young “sheep” (Poeta Criollo)?”

          Logical Fallacy, STRAWMAN!

          Here’s what Poeta Criollo ACTUALLY said.

          “And it won’t surprise you either that it is, by faaaaar, the BETTER educated people, and THE MOST valuable people, skilled professionals, entrepreneurs, that got the hell out. ”

          (Emphasis added by me)

          Now, take an issue with the way he phrased it or the sentiment as you will (I’ll address it later)….

          But it BEGGERS BELIEF how ANYBODY with a rudimentary understanding of the English Language and a willingness to read to understand can twist this sentence into saying that “the valuable people have all left….” unless they’re outright arguing in bad faith.

          In particular note that he argues the “MOST VALUABLE” people by and large got out.

          THUS IMPLICITLY STATING THAT MANY VALUABLE PEOPLE- EVEN IF “LESS VALUABLE’- STAYED BEHIND!

          Farqing Heck Canucklehead, if you can’t even be trusted to correctly identify your opponent’s argument ON THE VERY PAGE WHERE IT IS, why should we trust you for much?

          (Note: this is why I format my replies in the way I do, making Damn sure to use Your Own Words and then replying to them, so I can’t be accused of lying about what someone said).

          Now, it’s true that there have been more than a few comments on CC that have actually embodied the sentiment you ((falsely) attribute) to PC, and that is worth condemning. Half the reason I still come to this site even during the 2016 election boondoggle was because I am concerned about it.

          But here’s the thing: that wasn’t what PC said now, and you attributed it to them.

          So you’re still that.

          “I don’t know what online universe of sociopaths you hang around besides your buddies here, but these are not comments that reflect caring or concern. ”

          The irony is that in my humble- VERY HUMBLE- medical experience as a volunteer orderly for the actual people who know stuff about medicine, and doing charity work, I’ve run across actual, clinically diagnosed sociopaths.

          And while I’m not dumb enough to try and diagnose online when I lack the qualifiations to diagnose in person, and I personally don’t think Canucklehead is a sociopath given his involvement in the Velvet Revolution…

          … I will note this comment by him is EERILY REMINISCENT of how sociopaths would argue.”

          Immense verbal abuse and ad hominem directed against the person.

          Dishonesty, via lying (or if we’re more generous “Distorting”) what the previous person said into something that no honest interpretation of the words can indicate.

          And projection, accusing the other person of doing or thinking what they are.

          Again, that doesn’t make Canucklehead a sociopath. But it does make him someone who isn’t very logically rigorous and who replied in bad faith here.

          “They reflect ignorance and hate.”

          No, they reflect much less ignorance than your reply has.

          In particular, they reflect an actual attempt to understand life under a totalitarian system- especially a young, consolidating one- than yours do.

          Now to talk about what PC actually said. About the flight of the better educated, “most valuable” people like entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, and so on.

          This may be SLIGHTLY overstated (in particular I do think many of the most valuable people are those- like Joe Pilsudski- who refused to emigrate but sought to continue working)….

          … but it is based on a VERY REAL and easy to document example. Brain Drain.

          Where in the wake of political repression, invasion, and so on people Get The Heck Out of a regime, fleeing for their lives, freedom, or at least material wellbeing. And that this is DISPROPORTIONATELY HEAVY Among the exact people PC mentioned.

          The people who one would peg as the future leadership of the country, for better or worse. The intelligenstia, the educated, business creators, and the wealthy.

          My own United States saw something similar from the 48ers”, the wave of German and Hungarian dissidents who fled the collapse of the reformist movements in Central Europe during 1848 and the brutal reprisals the Prussian, Habsburg, and petty German governments did. As well as literally millions of people fleeing or trying to flee from the advance of Soviet armies and their consolidation over Eastern Europe in the 1940’s to the 1960’s.

          Not EVERY 48er came in with the ability to pay their own way or with a university, but a far higher proportion of them than one would think Did.

          Why?

          A few farqing reasons.

          For one, these are people who generally are the most prepared to Threaten a regime. if you’re educated, you tend to have access to research and the ability to get more, which can lead you to giving a denunciation of the regime that will be convincing.

          If you’re wealthy, you can move your resources around outside the state’s control or even threaten to support rebels against them if they don’t get rid of you.

          Likewise entrepreneurs, who can help create or harness value.

          These people are generally the most established in a society before takeover or consolidation and who can threaten the cohesion of the regime from within. So they have to be gotten rid of, and so from BIsmarck’s Prussians to the Chavistas today they generally get singled out for brutality.

          Secondly: resources. As cruel as it may sound, these people generally have resources or connections that the average Joe on the street Doesn’t. So they’re more likely to be able to bribe their way past the guards, find an old friend in government to let them flee, or know a secret way out than the man on the street. Who finds it HARDER to escape from repression even when there is a will to do it. At least initially.

          Compare/contrast the Saigoers who escaped from Hanoi’s conquest of the South by taking a pane abroad,versus those who struggled to get on the Helicopters leading the US Embassy.

          And thirdly: Ideology. Especially to totalitarian Communist or Fascist states, but to a lesser degree absolute monarchies. In addition to the VERY concrete, practical reasons these governments have to fear people with an education or with money to throw around, they usually have an ideological axe to grind.

          Communists hate nobility, capitalists, independent business-people, and those who do not conform to intellectual straitjackets.

          This isn’t hard to confirm.

          So even in cases where an individual is NOT inclined to oppose the regime- or even is inclined to Support them fervently- there is a MUCH HIGHER chance of the regime deciding to persecute or eliminate them anyway.

          So what PC mentions is an oversimplification, but it is largely true. People flee tyrannies, and a disproportionate number of people who do are the higher rungs of the nation’s society or leadership. The people who would otherwise be most likely to tear the government down and help lead rebuilding.

          THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE COMMON PERSON DOES NOT WANT TO FLEE.

          IT ALSO DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE NOT VALUABLE OR WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

          But it DOES mean they’re less likely to be Able to escape. Comprende?

          “Sure there are extremist Maduro supporters. Why don’t you talk about extremist Maduro supporters instead of casting everyone broadly as the willing participants in their own ideologically motivated destruction?”

          BECAUSE EXTREMIST MADURO SUPPORTERS ARE A RARITY.

          If this crisis were a matter of overwhelming the Extremist Maduro supporters using *everybody else*-it’d be over by this time tomorrow.

          Even if we debased the meaning of the term “extremist Maduro supporters” to mean “those who are fanatically inclined to support the regime out of self interest/ambition to lead it themselves/ etc.”

          Obviously though, the regime is still here. So there’s something of a problem.

          The paradox is that totalitarian regimes like the Chavistas do not stay stable because of their extremist supporters, who are by definition a minority..

          They stay stable because of what the average person in the country Does or Doesn’t Do.

          When they get pushed to revolt or strike, the regime’s stability breaks down and overthrow becomes more likely no matter how many of the extremists they mobilize.

          When they don’t. the regime can coast along on its’ limited support base and ties to Castroite Cuba, the PRC, Putin’s Russia, and so on.

          So talking about the average person IS important. And it isn’t going to far to assume that when they refuse to stand up, they are passive, unwitting co-consirators to their enslavement.

          “If we are talking about unwitting supporters of the regime, why don’t you spare a comment for the extremist etho-nationalist nutbars here, like Gringo, Wanley, et cetera, giving chavismo its propaganda lines?”

          Firstly, given your documented case of twisting someone’s words beyond any justification I can’t trust you to say these people are ethno-nationalists. In particular Gringo doesn’t.

          And secondly: to be blunt they’re not the main problem.

          Even if Gringo, Wanley, etc. had two lightning bolts tattooed on their rear end, it wouldn’t change the fact that they aren’t a major force keeping the regime in power. In fact I’d argue they are the opposite.

          And thirdly: the idea that Chavismo gets its’ propaganda lines from them- or that it even NEEDS to- is laughably wrong. Considering how they outright lied with Clear Video Evidence about a border crossing, I don’t think Maduro or his kin are going to be shy about twisting or inventing dialogue when they need to.

          “Thanks for the apology.”

          Fair enough on that front.

          ” I’ve been talking about the power of a strike to bring down this regime for years here, as well as other non-violent action which is broadly considered constitutionally sanctioned (as distinct from killing people). Will it happen? I don’t know. Can it work? Yes.”

          And I’ve been reading about the power of a strike to bring down the regime for years.

          And frankly, even after giving it due consideration and regarding it as a step in the right direction, I’ve largely rejected it as able to bring the regime down *On Its’ Own.”

          Why?

          Because the sad fact is, totalitarian regimes are RARELY brought down by strikes.

          Especially hardened, ruthless, and well established ones.

          That’s not to say that strikes for freedom are not a good thing. They are. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t enough to bring down some dictatorships, like the Kapp-Luttwitz Putsch. They are.

          But they work best against hardened dictatorships as part of a larger movement, preferably one involving the threat of armed force to a degree that the regime can’t respond to or is unwilling to (see: Solidarity).

          And even then their success rate is dubious.

          As someone who knows someone who specializes in helping North Koreans flee, there have been literally hundreds of strikes, protests, and so on happening in the PRC Every Single Year of this decade.

          Did they seriously undermine the regime’s stability? Probably not.

          Hear about many of them? Probably not.

          Why?

          Because CCP.

          The truth is, totalitarian systems are built on terror, the threat of violence, and the concept of total control of all aspects of society, including labor.

          And they can use these things to corral or subdue labor just as well.

          Whether it’s the NSDAP reacting to Operation Market Garden and the massive, coordinated Dutch utility strikes meant to support it by going around, Shooting or imprisoning the offenders, and ordering everybody else back to Work. Or Jaruzelski’s declaration of Martial Law to crush Solidarity after being told by the Soviets that they would NOT be coming to support him.

          For one, these people generally have no ethical or moral objection to mass murder or imprisonment, or else they wouldn’t be totalitarian. So if worst comes to worst- and it rarely does- they can simply murder the strikers and try to find someone else, whether conscripting or recruiting new workers or using some of their own people (for instance, military engineers) to fill in the gaps.

          And there is relatively little unions or labor organizations can do against this kind of stuff short of prepping for armed conflict themselves. Which means transforming themselves from a labor org to at least a partially military one.

          Secondly: there’s the fact that the totalitarian regime has generally gotten its’ tentacles deep into society as a whole. And so can and often DOES have the ability to respond to strikes by isolating them from their comrades, cutting off news access, and surrounding them until they can be wrung out. Again, this is how Jaruzelski survived Solidarity as long as he did, and it’s a MASSIVE reason why the PRC is still blighting the world.

          They have means to break up the cohesion of a would-be national strike that are hard to withstand. (Not IMPOSSIBLE mind, but Very hard). And once the cohesion’s broken, the regime can start rolling them up piecemeal. Or simply wait them out. We see this in mainland China literally every day and saw it recently in Iran.

          And finally, there’s the likelihood that the labor organizations that would be coordinating this have themselves been co-opted or at least undermined by the regime. The most obvious manifestation of this is cases where the Party/State and the Unions have been merged and the union is now ap arty institution, like the DAF of the Third Reich, the All Union Central Trade Council in the USR, and so on.

          This is more or less what Chavez and Maduro wish the CNT were, and have taken some steps to try and make it like them.

          Suffice it to say, the ability of these things to stand up to the regime are severel compromised. They take marching orders from the state, allow its’ arbitrtion, and are largely at its’ mercy. This means that not only would it take a near miracle to get one of these things to come out on the street against the regime and in favor of liberty, even if they *did* they’re going to be seen as lacking credibility because they were a puppet.

          But there are a few other ways for a totalitarian state to subvert the unions.

          Secondly, is the basic fact that the regime can launch attacks, threats, blackmail, and the like against both dissident members of a given union or the people in one opposed to it. Union members and leadership are still people too, and are still likely to quake in the face of violent promises or threats to be stripped of things when directed against them personally.

          And finally, there is the ability to shove spies and provocateurs into the midst of labor orgs, including dissident underground ones like Solidarity. It’s hard to coordinate things when you have a network of snitches and informers throughout life ready and willing to blow the whistle to the enemy in exchange for their pieces of silver.

          This is one of the things that tends to set the likes of Putin and Castro and their regimes apart from those of Yanukovych and Bakiyev. The willingness to order the wholesale murder of strikes and protestors in order to keep power (and knowledge they will PROBABLY be carried out), along with the regime’s influence throughout social life.

          This is why I’ve never had much hope for an electoral resolution to the dictatorship, or even a political one like a strike.

          I know Canucklehead mentioned taking part in the Velvet Revolution that ended Communism in Czechoslovakia, an he asserted that the dictatorship there was not less ruthless or willing to hold onto power than the Chavistas.

          Maybe so, and in any case we owe him our respect for doing that if it’s true.

          But what seemed to go over his head was that the Czechoslovak dictatorship was *severely weakened and isolated* by the time of the Velvet Revolution.

          The Soviets had been telling their henchmen in secret since the start of the 1980’s that they COULD NOT Expect intervention from the Soviet military or the “Organs” in the event the dung hit the fan and another Prague Spring or Budapest Revolution happened. The Soviets were so adverse to deploying their military into a major conflict or “pacification” area that they told Jaruzelski they would not do it even if it meant sacrificing the Western satrapies of the Soviet Empire (which was why Jaruzelski and others had to go it alone and use their own resources).

          Then in the middle of the decade they made it official, with some of Gorbachev’s remarks and his involvement with CMEA making it clear the Brezhnev doctrine was dead.

          This in effect left the Czechoslovak Communists and their cousins out in a lurch. The Orwellian little brothers that had been established by and always looked to the Big Brother now found Big Brother retreating from promises of armed support and going to write a dictionary of Ingsoc in the past tense. Meaning that they couldn’t expect Soviet help in the face of civil dissent, that the West and their people KNEW that they could not, and so they had to be very careful about opening fire about a cause they largely did not believe in.

          I cannot see this as comparable with Venezuela today. In addition to the rather loyal state of the military and the militarized collectivos, the Castro Brothers have a good (meaning bad) track record of not cutting and running from a fight when they’re support an ally. Hence why Cuban troops helped consolidate Communist influence in Cabinda and Mozambique even if it meant incredible amounts of blood. while Putin and the PRC will continue to support the Chavistas politically and logistically unless it becomes utterly embarrassing for them to do.

          So I think if a general strike were launched today, the regime would react by cracking down on it, and probably snuffing it out as brutally as they needed to. Because they’re confident they have foreign support, they are confident they can crush nonviolent domestic opposition, and they are not worried about defections or the like as a result of it.

          That doesn’t mean strikes can’t help weaken the regime or play a role in bringing it down, far from it. But I don’t see them succeeding alone.

          Because I have the feeling that the Chavezista dictatorship will end when its’ bigwigs are given a choice by a strong, armed opposition willing to use force:

          To end up like Husak, or end up like Ceaucescu.

          That they have to make that choice and pick one or the other because they can’t bribe, bully, lie, or kill their way to a third option and that all attempts to do so will just make things Worse for them.

          I’ve had this feeling since I read that story about Chavez’s initial refusal to run for election in 1998 (when he won), thinking the government would never allow him in. And instead trying to kill election turnout until one of his Communist Party friends sat him down and showed how he could do it mathematically.

          At the risk of making an assumption, I always though that a major reason behind his initial refusal was Projection.

          That he was projecting what HE would do onto his political opponents, and that HE KNEW he would *NEVER* give up political power from losing an election. And true to form, he molded the party and now the government in his image.

          That’s why I have largely viewed the last years of Venezuelan history as a sad, sick farce and have had little hope that the Chavistas- ruthless, emboldened, and supported by foreign killers- would relinquish power because of an even more overwhelming election defeat, because of famine, or a general strike.

          I really believe the only way to get these people out of power is to put them in fear for their weaselly lives, or to take them. To muster superior violent force and confront them with it. Whether that force is courtesy of the USMC or a very angry, somewhat armed public.

          Frankly, I think the triggermen who face them have to be put in the unenviable position of the Berlin Checkpoint guards who had faced a SEA of humanity stretching out and had to realize that they couldn’t push these people back, and didn’t have enough bullets to shoot everyone before being torn apart for trying. And that they have a choice between stepping aside and letting the people get at Maduro, or standing their ground and dying.

          I don’t say this because I am a psychopath (in fact that was one thing I had to get screened for before I could do volunteer work), or because my wargaming translates into wanting to see people die. But because I hear of people dying anyway, and I believe that if they’re going to risk death the answer is to and strike at the source for that in the process.

          It’s why I do figure that the opposition should plan for armed resistance, and that everything else ranges from a subsidiary part of plans for that or a waste of time.

          I EARNEST HOPE I AM WRONG ON THIS COUNT. But I don’t see it.

          And frankly I think it’s more productive to start considering it rather than spending more years talking about the possibility of some general strike ending the dictatorship.

          “I do not have intimate knowledge of the Venezuelan tax system, but I know people and businesses in Venezuela are taxed, to a significant degree: personal, business, value added (IVA).

          If you don’t pay a lot of your taxes, I guess that means that the degree to which you have supported the activities of Nicolas Maduro and Hugo Chavez is less than the other guy, but not less than the many Venezuelans who own next to nothing now,-”

          The problem is that there are forms of support for Chavez and co that were much more important than paying taxes. Just ask the Collectivos, for instance.

          “Which then begs what I think are interesting historical questions: who was originally responsible for Chavez and chavismo,”

          Ultimately, responsibility must lie with Chavez, his closest associates, and his mentors. They were the ones who created this nightmare, and they must bare the full responsibility.

          But this doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who did.

          Beyond his personal inner circle, there were his loyalsits. Those who supported him at the ballot box and then in bloodbaths in the street. The Blackshirts, the Sotmrtroopers, the Collectivos. The guys who shot protestors, did rallies, and beat people up.

          Beyond them you have the casual Chavista. The person who didn’t kill anyone and wasn’t a core part of the regime’s arsenal, but who voted for him out of sincere support, encouraged them on, and so forth. Whether or not they acted for understandable reasons or not, they played a role in cementing this dictatorship.

          And then, you have many, many others.

          Those who John S Mill was talking about when he said

          “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. ”

          Those who looked on during these two decades and did nothing or very little. Are they guilty like the above categories of people were? Naturally not. But does this mean they were not guilty at all, were not responsible in how things ended up?

          I don’t think so. We all have responsibility for our choices. Even when we choose not to choose.

          And defeating the dictatorship means confronting that.

  6. […] The National Survey on Living Conditions (Encovi), carried out by the Central University, the Andrés Bello Catholic University and the Simón Bolívar University along with the Bengoa foundation and Red de Solidaridad Ciudadana, among other institutions, revealed dramatic data about our circumstances, starting with the report that 87% of the population lives in poverty, with a rise in extreme poverty from 24% in 2014 to 61% in 2017; 89% of Venezuelans think that their family income isn’t enough to buy food; 61% admit to going to bed hungry; 20% can’t afford breakfast and 63.2% have reduced their meals in order to save food. It makes sense, then, to read that Venezuelans lost an average of 11.4 kilos last year, as a consequence of the worst economic crisis in our history, between a severe recession and hyperinflation, with our income in ashes. Access to education dropped from 78% to 71% in two years, we have over a million unschooled children and severe academic lag reaches 15% among teenagers between 12 and 17 years old. I urge you to read the survey in detail, there’s too much important information to include this as a usual block in this daily briefing. […]

  7. A classic case of rags-to riches-to rags, in one generation or so, as culture/education did not have time to catch up before the wealth was stolen/mismanaged to virtual extinction (although, the virtual Petro is riding to the rescue, according to NM–oh, and don’t forget, to come: the virtual oro, perhaps diamante, etc. Likely NM will give a virtual Petro to all who vote for him/his. The only way Venezuela can get out of its mess is to create the virtual choro–crime will markedly decrease, and there will be an endless/free supply….

    • NET. – Precisely what makes it so bad. It’s not like a country that never got close to development, where people are used to dirt roads and floors in urban centers. Venezuela was the leading country in South America, Caracas the “Jewel of the Andes”. Perfect? No. No place is perfect. Even Switzerland and Monaco pay a price. But the hunger statistics and the deterioration of Venezuela is just abysmal. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Castro, Chavez, and all must be breaking out the champagne, caviar, brandy and cigars in celebration of such a stunning victory for “communism”, driving a prosperous, flourishing nation backwards 100 years. Rags to riches to rags..

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