Originally Posted by Lebowsky
Sorry, Ridonks, but most of your post is fairly misguided. While I do agree with some of your points, others do come across a bit naive.
Students (but not only them) are pissed of, and rightfully so, because a potentially wealthy country is going down the shitter due to corruption and incompetence. Economic policy is indeed to blame. Their minister of finance used to be an old-school communist up until recently (Giordani). They've robbed the country blind of its means of production by confiscating private companies who wouldn't bend to their desires. Those once succesful businesses have been completely run to the ground, to the point they currently have to import an overwhelming majority of what they consume. In a country that depends on oil income, that's an extremely risky position to hold. To make it worse, their currency is pegged to the dollar, so people and businesses can't freely buy dollars to finance their imports, which has led to the extreme shortage of basic goods they have.
On top of all that, the Government is extremely corrupt. They are robbing the country blind, plain and simple. To give you an example,years ago, some foreign independent reporters traced accounts in some Swiss banks to Diosdado Cabello, one of PSUV's main leaders, in excess of USD21M. Imagine how much he has by now. And that's just one case.
Then you also have the state-sponsored paramilitary groups, the mindblowing murder rates, the tolerance towards FARC and ELN terrorists operating in Venezuela, the Cuban interference in their national affairs...
Regarding the elections you mentioned, it was proven beyond doubt that the results were rigged by PSUV, I thought that was common knowledge. Nobody from the opposition acknowledged the results. They demanded for the results to be independently audited, and then the electoral commision enacted a ridiculous charade. There is no separation of powers in Venezuela, the PSUV permeates all and rules all.
I'm not sold on Leopoldo Lopez as a leader either. Capriles looks like the perfect guy to lead the country out of the shadows, and he should be doing that now if not for the massive electoral fraud.
People have been passive long enough, but they are tired and they want a change. I don't know how it will end, but at least is something.
thanks for the response lebowsky. i don't think i'm naive, my post was primarily cautionary advice for anybody wading into this issue. it's very easy to parrot verdicts of a more or less consensus western media on issues like these. as usual, it's more complex.
we clearly agree with regard to your last two sentences. any spontaneous mass movement springing out of economic desperation should be supported. and there's no question people are desperate... empty shelves in grocery stores and a rapidly inflating currency tell the tale. that anger gets (rightfully) redirected toward the state; corruption, draconian policies, economic mismanagement. it's the most powerful institution and it has to respond to public pressures. i sincerely hope the maduro government does respond. but i highly doubt it'll be in the fashion you and most economic commentators would recommend.
i'll definitely sound naive talking about economics. but i do think it's more complicated than the usual story we hear of red tape and regulation driving business out. i'd have to research the situation more but from my understanding, the pre-98 venezuelan economy was dominated by foreign capital, and primarily enriching a small elite group. it's the usual model.
that's the backdrop for the last fifteen years of nationalization and heavy handed regulation on private industry. and maybe you can draw a straight line, maybe you can't, but the absolute fact is that since the "revolution", extreme poverty has been reduced by 75% (or so). that's enormous progress that usually gets short thrift in western media. the economist constantly calls the social programming that eventually churned out that progress things like "brute populism for electioneering purposes" or w/e. well... that's one way to think of it.
the key problem to me, and again forgive me for perhaps sounding naive, correct what you think needs correcting; it's the total powerlessness of states to regulate capital inflows and outflows. it's a race to the bottom in every sense, not just capital flowing to the worst labour standards but to the "best economic environment". maybe you can shed some light on that very significant point that, it would seem imo, impacts domestic economies more than anything else.
maybe you can offer some examples of how government policies have hampered national private industry, apart from the usual tax rates arguments.
straight corruption needs to be protested of course, and a government with the same establishment class of officials is inevitably going to become more corrupt. that's the one major problem with the chavez party that i don't think it's chief fully recognized or understood... nor seemingly does his successor. but i have my doubts that actually embezzling or taking off the top for personal gain have any sort of the same significance as what i mentioned above.
there's no time or space to get into a conversation about the "narco terrorist outfits" like farc and eln. there's an extremely long history that has lead to this point. as for cuban meddling... again, i see mutual support. the whole region has been integrating in just the last decade more than it has since columbus; venezuela, bolivia, brazil, equador, etc. colombia and chile are sort of on the outside of this phenomenon.
the paramilitaries that you mentioned... i still can't find any information about them. i've heard them referred to as... can't remember the name. some short word but i tried looking it up and found very little. maybe you have some sources explaining what these groups are, where they come from, how they're affiliated and funded, etc.
i'm rambling, terrible habit and probably no longer responding directly to your points. i probably should have broken up your post and responded in pieces to make mine more coherent.
regardless, last point. i think "common knowledge" is an interesting phrase. more of a consensus, but not of everybody. i followed the issue closely as it happened and became convinced that the opposition was acting irrationally because they lost a close but fair race. the review was not a sham. but i won't go into details, if you want to offer some sources and explain why you believe it was entirely fraudulent, i'd like to hear you out. we fundamentally disagree there.
though i didn't refer to the presidential election in my first post, but the municipal elections of december, which were dominated by the chavez party.
look forward to your reply.