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Post Three Out of Four Venezuelans in Extreme Poverty: Wilson Center Report
Created by John Eipper on 10/20/21 10:14 AM

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Three Out of Four Venezuelans in Extreme Poverty: Wilson Center Report (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA, 10/20/21 10:14 am)

The Venezuelans report that 3 out of 4 Venezuelans live in poverty. Welcome to the latest Socialist model for the Americas! If you cannot get upset over this latest disaster, then you lack a soul or sold it to the devil.

Venezuelan Poverty, Afghan Opium, and Russian Permafrost | Wilson Center

JE comments:  Once again, I know of no one seeking to "Venezuela-ize" the United States.  Possibly Bolivia's Evo Morales saw Chávez as a model 15 years ago, but now...?

I'd prefer an update on life on the ground in Venezuela.  Just this October 1st, Maduro announced the removal of six zeros (OOOOOO--ouch!) from the currency.  However, most transactions already take place in dollars.

Are rising oil prices helping to ease some of the pain?  Venezuela's production costs are notoriously high, in the $50+ range, so when prices are languishing in the $30s, it's a pointless exercise.  But at the present $80+?  I hope Nacho Soler in Caracas will comment.

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  • Who Exactly Sees Venezuela as a "Socialist Model for the US"? (Henry Levin, USA 10/21/21 6:37 AM)
    Clearly I am missing something in my daily reading and conversations. Francisco Wong-Díaz seems to be in contact with a lot of persons who are supporting the Chávez and Maduro revolution and has a lot to say about them.

    I live in New York City and have daily contact with colleagues from all over Latin America. I have not met a Chavista, not just now, but over the entire Chávez-Maduro era. Unlike Francisco, I am not surrounded by them. I wish that he would reveal how and where he finds the multitudes of Chavistas in the San Francisco Bay Area, how they are organized politically and socially, and how they are attracted to him as sympathizing with their paradise that they have shared their inspirations and made him an outspoken expert on the US thinking on this topic.

    The Mission District of San Francisco is not a representative sample of the US, so we should worry if Francisco is making generalization based on conversations drawn from that barrio--or wherever he has found the SF Chavistas.

    JE comments:  I just remembered that there's been a picture of Hugo Chávez on the WAIS homepage for a very long time.  The accompanying article doesn't praise Chávez in any way (quite the opposite), but it still may give the wrong impression.  I need to freshen our homepage.

    So to echo Hank Levin's question:  Where are the US Chavistas?  Possibly--just possibly--Michael Moore?  The US Right's syllogism seems to be that Biden=Socialism, and Venezuela=Socialism...ergo, anyone who is not outraged by Biden wants to turn the US into Venezuela.  There are some serious leaps of logic here.

    The author of the WAIS "Twenty Years of Chavismo" article, Hank Levin's cuñado in Caracas, José Ignacio Soler, has just sent an update.  Please come back in a couple of hours.

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    • Venezuelans in US: Who Supports Maduro? (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 10/22/21 3:29 AM)
      Just a short note in passing about sources requested by Henry Levin (October 21st).

      First, in my Cuban family of origin we have a Communist first cousin who married a Venezuelan lady, and we also had a distant uncle who owned a chocolate factory in Caracas. Second, on the Berkeley and Stanford campuses there are outspoken Venezuelans on both sides and some are very active online.

      Third, in Florida, Los Angeles and New Orleans, large contingents of Venezuelan expats are actively opposing the disaster that is VeneCuba. If Henry is such an expert, he would know that the SF Mission is not a place that welcomes anticommunists from anywhere.

      JE comments: A search for "who supports Maduro in the US" yields very little.  The "literature" invariably focuses on the Gang of Five nations propping up the Venezuelan regime:  Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and of course Cuba.  Turkey with its NATO connection is the outlier here.  What does Erdogan hope to achieve by backing Maduro?

      I did discover one San Francisco personality who may belong to the Maduro camp:  District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who worked as an interpreter for Chávez in the early years of his presidency.

      Among Cubans, politics are always a family affair...and a divisive one. Francisco, could you tell us more about your communist cousin? Has he remained on the island?

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  • Are Things Getting Better with Venezuela's Economy? Not Really (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 10/21/21 9:47 AM)

    In the most recent post from Francisco Wong-Díaz, John E requested my comment on the Venezuela issue.

    There is not much more to say other than what I have pointed out in many previous WAIS posts, about the decline and tragedy in that country, created by the socialist regime with the complicity of Cuba. 

    There are no reliable official figures, but I am not surprised by the level of poverty claimed by the article forwarded by Francisco.  Moreover, I would even dare to say that the real poverty figures are much greater. For years I have seen increasing numbers of people looking for food in the garbage, in the street, and at the back doors of restaurants.  I have also noted how humble people have lost weight, and children are in a state of obvious malnutrition. This is not just my perception.  It is being commented in circles across the social spectrum, such as the medical community. 

    Of course the regime continues to blame this situation on the US sanctions, but as I have affirmed in the past, the deterioration of the economy began more than 20 years ago when the supposed socialist revolution of the 21st century came to power. 

    For example, when the government took over, oil production was almost 4 million barrels per day.  The reduction has been progressive and constant until reaching less than 400,000 per day in the last month. On the other hand, the currency devaluation has been unstoppable, to the point that they have eliminated a total of 15 zeros from the local currency, to create the apparent miracle of updating its real value. 

    There are rumors in the country that the economic situation is improving, that the government plans to privatize companies previously nationalized or expropriated, that they will invite foreign investment, etc. In my opinion this is one more mirage for several reasons. 

    In the first place, the more than six million people who have emigrated in recent years have allowed the middle class and some other sectors of the population to receive remittances from abroad and to survive with those resources.  Secondly, there has been significant dollarization permitted by the government; and finally, regarding foreign investments, it is almost unthinkable for a rational investor to invest in the country, unless they are Chinese, Russian or maybe Iranian or Turkish and only perhaps for political and not economic reasons.  There is the threat of legal insecurity, the product of the arbitrariness exercised in the past in the justice system.  Not to mention the absurd economic policies. 

    For these and other reasons, it is almost impossible for the economy in that country to recover soon. I wonder why the obvious will continue to be debated--that is to say, why socialist regimes always tend inexorably to authoritarianism, to appropriate public and private institutions for their benefit and, consequently, to economic and social failure. And this consequence is not a problem of the "applying" the model as many like to say.  It is a problem of the ideology itself.

    JE comments:  Much appreciate the update, Nacho.  Venezuela's six million emigrants must be a peacetime record--or perhaps an all-time record.  Paradoxically, the diaspora may be propping up the regime through their remittances.  But how can one let one's family starve?

    The chart below (from the US Energy Information Administration) gives Venezuela's oil production over the last two decades.  No producer would be proud of this graph.  The EIA also reports on who buys Venezuelan oil.  The #1 country is not China, which would have been my guess, but India.  China is second.

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