Venezuela the Socialist Dream Crumbles

As socialist dream crumbles, Venezuelans find Nicolas Maduro 'a bad copy' of Chavez
Amid food shortages, rampant inflation and widespread electricity blackouts, many Venezuelans are wondering if Chavez chose the right heir to his revolution

Last week Mr Maduro accused the US DEA of orchestrating the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine seized last month from an Air France plane flying out of Caracas Photo: Reuters
Alasdair Baverstock in Caracas and Hannah Strange
5:57PM BST 06 Oct 2013
The army has been sent into toilet paper factories, fights for basic foodstuffs have resulted in several deaths and new, multi-million dollar oil tankers are sitting idle in dock. And, despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on.

Now many in Venezuela are wondering how much longer President Nicolas Maduro, the anointed successor of the country’s firebrand Leftist leader Hugo Chavez, can keep hold of the reins of its crumbling socialist revolution.

Last week Mr Maduro was forced to turn to a well-worn answer for his country’s woes, blaming a US plot to “sabotage the electrical system and the Venezuelan economy” and kicking out Washington’s envoy to the South American country. “Out of Venezuela!” he railed on state television, adding in English: “Yankees go home!”

It was a move copied straight from the playbook of Chavez, the vocal anti-imperialist who passed away in February, and one which killed off any hopes of rapprochement with the US following years of thorny relations.

If that wasn’t enough, Mr Maduro then accused the US Drug Enforcement Agency of orchestrating the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine seized last month from an Air France plane flying out of Caracas. With the government long accused by Washington of complicity in the drug trade - counter-narcotics officials say some 50 per cent of cocaine in Britain is now trafficked through Venezuela - the bust was likely a US plot using mafias to brand the country a “narco-state”, he said.

For years Chavez’s foreign minister, Mr Maduro was the more moderate, pragmatic face of the Venezuelan Revolution. Now, seeking to emulate the man still known affectionately to many as “El Comandante” (the Commander), his aggressive leadership style has not only come as a surprise, but a poor imitation.

“He dresses in military fatigues to look like Chavez, but when he opens his mouth all you see is a bad copy”, said Miguel Arnas, an insurance salesman waiting in a three-hour bank queue in Caracas.

While Chavez’s revolution diverted the country’s vast oil wealth to fund social programmes - with considerable initial success - after almost 15 years many Venezuelans feel the country has not got nearly enough to show for oil and gas reserves that were in 2011 certified by OPEC as the world’s largest. By the time of Chavez’s death, economic mismanagement and corruption - Venezuela is the most corrupt country in the Americas, according to Transparency International - had already crippled the socialist project he dreamed of. Under Mr Maduro, it has entered an advanced state of decay.

Official inflation has soared above 45 per cent - 55 per cent for groceries - basic product shortages leave entire families without food and widespread power outages are commonplace. Meanwhile the South American country is witnessing an average of 71 homicides every day, one of the highest murder rates in the world.

“This country is a thousand times worse than it was six months ago”, said Pedro Sosa, a Chavez supporter who voted for Mr Maduro but now regrets having done so. “Choosing Maduro as his successor was a mistake (by Chavez),”said Veronica Tapia, 22, a student at the Caracas Institute of Finance.

In one Kafka-esque example of state inefficiency, a Reuters investigation recently found that three new oil tankers unveiled with flags and confetti in the last 14 months were still sitting in their shipyards, never having set sail despite their multi-million dollar price tags.

Meanwhile supermarket shelves sit empty. In late September, the government ordered the army into the country’s largest toilet paper factory as supplies dried up. Mr Maduro blamed the shortage on Venezuelans “eating more”.

The desperate scramble for necessities is increasingly spilling over into violence. At the end of last month, a lorry driver was crushed to death by looters as they scrambled to steal his cargo on a Caracas motorway. In the eastern city of Ciudad Bolivar, a man died as a mob clamoured for a bottle of oil and a loaf of bread at a state-run supermarket.

“I have to go to four or five supermarkets to do a complete shop”, said Carmen Rodriguez, 49, a mother of three. “The queues are the biggest they’ve ever been. But if you don’t wait in line, you don’t feed your family”.

Mr Maduro has tried to capitalise on the almost cult-like devotion to his predecessor, declaring himself the “son of Chavez” and attempting to emulate his thundering rhetoric. He has related on national television how he often sleeps in the late president’s mausoleum. He has even, he claims, been visited by the spirit of Chavez in the form of a small bird.

But his excuses - he has in six months alleged 13 conspiracies against his government and four assassination plots against himself - are starting to ring hollow.

“Maduro uses the idea of economic war to blame others for his own shortcomings,” said Jesus Perez, the head of the Caracas School of Economics. “Actually, the war on Venezuela is being waged by our own government.”

“The government expropriates Venezuelan businesses which then don’t produce because the socialist state doesn’t run them effectively,” he added.

Michael Shifter of The Dialogue, a US-based think tank, said that Mr Maduro was not only a "poor imitation" of Chavez, but had been unlucky in inheriting a country in crisis. Economic conditions that were often difficult under Chavez were "now even more dramatic". he said, adding: "Looking for scapegoats may be understandable, but it will do little to stem Venezuela's continuing chaos and deterioration."

While many argued drastic measures were necessary, they might not be forthcoming from a president worried about his political survival, Mr Shifter suggested.

Professor Fred Mills of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a US think tank, said that remaining true to Chavez's ideology was still beneficial to Mr Maduro in maintaining the support of the revolutionary faithful. "The Chavista base largely perceives Chavez as the supreme commander whose legacy continues to point the way to a democratic socialist future," he told The Telegraph.

But others say Mr Maduro might fare better if he stopped attempting to fill Mr Chavez’s shoes. “He’s trying so hard to be like Chavez, but that’s simply an impossible task,” said a senior government insider.

The official said there was a growing sense within the ruling Socialist party that some key policy planks, such as nationalisation and currency controls, should be consigned to the past.

“It’s almost heresy to say it, but we know there were mistakes under Chavez, and it’s time to fix them. If we’re to survive, if 'Chavismo’ is to survive, that is essential.”
 
As socialist dream crumbles, Venezuelans find Nicolas Maduro 'a bad copy' of Chavez
Amid food shortages, rampant inflation and widespread electricity blackouts, many Venezuelans are wondering if Chavez chose the right heir to his revolution

Last week Mr Maduro accused the US DEA of orchestrating the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine seized last month from an Air France plane flying out of Caracas Photo: Reuters
Alasdair Baverstock in Caracas and Hannah Strange
5:57PM BST 06 Oct 2013
The army has been sent into toilet paper factories, fights for basic foodstuffs have resulted in several deaths and new, multi-million dollar oil tankers are sitting idle in dock. And, despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on.

Now many in Venezuela are wondering how much longer President Nicolas Maduro, the anointed successor of the country’s firebrand Leftist leader Hugo Chavez, can keep hold of the reins of its crumbling socialist revolution.

Last week Mr Maduro was forced to turn to a well-worn answer for his country’s woes, blaming a US plot to “sabotage the electrical system and the Venezuelan economy” and kicking out Washington’s envoy to the South American country. “Out of Venezuela!” he railed on state television, adding in English: “Yankees go home!”

It was a move copied straight from the playbook of Chavez, the vocal anti-imperialist who passed away in February, and one which killed off any hopes of rapprochement with the US following years of thorny relations.

If that wasn’t enough, Mr Maduro then accused the US Drug Enforcement Agency of orchestrating the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine seized last month from an Air France plane flying out of Caracas. With the government long accused by Washington of complicity in the drug trade - counter-narcotics officials say some 50 per cent of cocaine in Britain is now trafficked through Venezuela - the bust was likely a US plot using mafias to brand the country a “narco-state”, he said.

For years Chavez’s foreign minister, Mr Maduro was the more moderate, pragmatic face of the Venezuelan Revolution. Now, seeking to emulate the man still known affectionately to many as “El Comandante” (the Commander), his aggressive leadership style has not only come as a surprise, but a poor imitation.

“He dresses in military fatigues to look like Chavez, but when he opens his mouth all you see is a bad copy”, said Miguel Arnas, an insurance salesman waiting in a three-hour bank queue in Caracas.

While Chavez’s revolution diverted the country’s vast oil wealth to fund social programmes - with considerable initial success - after almost 15 years many Venezuelans feel the country has not got nearly enough to show for oil and gas reserves that were in 2011 certified by OPEC as the world’s largest. By the time of Chavez’s death, economic mismanagement and corruption - Venezuela is the most corrupt country in the Americas, according to Transparency International - had already crippled the socialist project he dreamed of. Under Mr Maduro, it has entered an advanced state of decay.

Official inflation has soared above 45 per cent - 55 per cent for groceries - basic product shortages leave entire families without food and widespread power outages are commonplace. Meanwhile the South American country is witnessing an average of 71 homicides every day, one of the highest murder rates in the world.

“This country is a thousand times worse than it was six months ago”, said Pedro Sosa, a Chavez supporter who voted for Mr Maduro but now regrets having done so. “Choosing Maduro as his successor was a mistake (by Chavez),”said Veronica Tapia, 22, a student at the Caracas Institute of Finance.

In one Kafka-esque example of state inefficiency, a Reuters investigation recently found that three new oil tankers unveiled with flags and confetti in the last 14 months were still sitting in their shipyards, never having set sail despite their multi-million dollar price tags.

Meanwhile supermarket shelves sit empty. In late September, the government ordered the army into the country’s largest toilet paper factory as supplies dried up. Mr Maduro blamed the shortage on Venezuelans “eating more”.

The desperate scramble for necessities is increasingly spilling over into violence. At the end of last month, a lorry driver was crushed to death by looters as they scrambled to steal his cargo on a Caracas motorway. In the eastern city of Ciudad Bolivar, a man died as a mob clamoured for a bottle of oil and a loaf of bread at a state-run supermarket.

“I have to go to four or five supermarkets to do a complete shop”, said Carmen Rodriguez, 49, a mother of three. “The queues are the biggest they’ve ever been. But if you don’t wait in line, you don’t feed your family”.

Mr Maduro has tried to capitalise on the almost cult-like devotion to his predecessor, declaring himself the “son of Chavez” and attempting to emulate his thundering rhetoric. He has related on national television how he often sleeps in the late president’s mausoleum. He has even, he claims, been visited by the spirit of Chavez in the form of a small bird.

But his excuses - he has in six months alleged 13 conspiracies against his government and four assassination plots against himself - are starting to ring hollow.

“Maduro uses the idea of economic war to blame others for his own shortcomings,” said Jesus Perez, the head of the Caracas School of Economics. “Actually, the war on Venezuela is being waged by our own government.”

“The government expropriates Venezuelan businesses which then don’t produce because the socialist state doesn’t run them effectively,” he added.

Michael Shifter of The Dialogue, a US-based think tank, said that Mr Maduro was not only a "poor imitation" of Chavez, but had been unlucky in inheriting a country in crisis. Economic conditions that were often difficult under Chavez were "now even more dramatic". he said, adding: "Looking for scapegoats may be understandable, but it will do little to stem Venezuela's continuing chaos and deterioration."

While many argued drastic measures were necessary, they might not be forthcoming from a president worried about his political survival, Mr Shifter suggested.

Professor Fred Mills of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a US think tank, said that remaining true to Chavez's ideology was still beneficial to Mr Maduro in maintaining the support of the revolutionary faithful. "The Chavista base largely perceives Chavez as the supreme commander whose legacy continues to point the way to a democratic socialist future," he told The Telegraph.

But others say Mr Maduro might fare better if he stopped attempting to fill Mr Chavez’s shoes. “He’s trying so hard to be like Chavez, but that’s simply an impossible task,” said a senior government insider.

The official said there was a growing sense within the ruling Socialist party that some key policy planks, such as nationalisation and currency controls, should be consigned to the past.

“It’s almost heresy to say it, but we know there were mistakes under Chavez, and it’s time to fix them. If we’re to survive, if 'Chavismo’ is to survive, that is essential.”

I know you didn't write this article Stacky but it would be nice if you would print the publication and journalist who wrote it, thanks
 
Alasdair Baverstock in Caracas and Hannah Strange for the Daily Telegraph.


Now proceed to destroy their credibility and debunk their facts.

Enjoy.

Viva La Revolution. :-0
 
Alasdair Baverstock in Caracas and Hannah Strange for the Daily Telegraph.


Now proceed to destroy their credibility and debunk their facts.

Enjoy.

Viva La Revolution. :-0

Ah lad now there is no need to destroy the telegraph it's a bastion of objective thinking and has been since its inception, lol
 
Baverstocks last big article was about women injecting their buttocks with silicone, indept stuff.

As I said the Telegraph a bastion of objectivity.

Yes.

The same journalist writing articles on silicone or anything in the past means that everything is just swell in Venezuela.

Schoolboy error.
 
R.C. I'd imagine you're a Guardian reader are you ?

Guardian has basically the same story:
http://www.theguardian.com/global-d.../26/venezuela-food-shortages-rich-country-cia

Venezuela food shortages: 'No one can explain why a rich country has no food'
Toilet paper, rice and coffee have long been missing from stores, as Venezuelan president blames CIA plot for chronic shortages

....
For Oliveros, an additional cause for the shortage of basic food staples is the decrease in agricultural production resulting from seized companies and land expropriations. "More than 3m hectares were expropriated during 2004-2010. That and overvalued exchange rate destroyed agriculture. It's cheaper to import than it is to produce. That's a perverse model that kills off any productivity," he says.

Venezuela's central bank, which has been publishing a scarcity index since 2009, puts this year's figure at an average of 20%, which, according to economists in the country, is similar to countries undergoing civil strife or war-like conditions.
...
 
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