Looking Over Our Shoulder

01Talk about useful idiots!  Remember leftist actor Sean Penn’s visit to Venezuela  in 2014 to applaud their socialist regime? Penn proclaimed that Maduro was similar to Chavez in that he was “in love with his people and his country,” while attempting to provide whitewash to the social dissent the country was experiencing. Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the screen, Venezuelans weren’t demonstrating against Socialism, only the economic situation of the country. Like the two aren’t connected!  But my favorite Penn idiocy was his attempt to blamed reports of Venezuela violently cracking down on protesters on America’s anti-Venezuelan bias. 

Chávez was first elected in 1998, promising, like all potential dictators, to overhaul a largely discredited political system. The enactment of a new constitution in 1999 offered an extraordinary opportunity for the country to shore up the rule of law and strengthen the protection of human rights however, a 230 page report, “A Decade Under Chávez: Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela,” found that in the absence of credible judicial oversight, the Chávez government systematically pursued policies to undercut freedom of expression, freedom of association, and civil society’s ability to promote human rights in Venezuela.

During his presidency, Chavez issued 200 separate decrees {executive orders} allowing him to bypass the legislature, the courts, public dissent, the constitution, and any other impediment to his agenda. And, anyone who disagreed with that agenda faced prosecutorial harassment, unsubstantiated allegations aimed at discrediting their work, and efforts to exclude them from international forums and restrict their access to international funding. Any of that sound familiar?

Penn was absolutely correct in his assessment of Nicolas Maduro’s similarity to Chavez.   Why not, it was Chavez who picked him as his successor.   Soon after taking power Maduro proved how much like Chavez he truly was when he asked the legislature to grant him extraordinary powers to run the country as he pleases for the next year, giving rise to the theory that the ruling caste was losing its grip on society and was more than willing to put the final nail into the coffin of the few freedoms left. The signs were everywhere – power failures, crumbling roads, scarcity of store bought goods from butter to toilet paper.

Venezuela stands as a shining example of what Socialism can do to a country.   After 16 years of Socialist rule, the country is now less productive than Ethiopia. The country suffers from triple-digit inflation. Murder rates are the second highest in the world.   In a country where oil once poured from the ground, its citizens suffer from major shortages of food, cooking oil, sugar, beer, shampoo, meat and even toilet paper. And what they do have, they can barely afford to buy. 

But of course it’s not the government’s fault. Maduro blames the private sector’s profiteering and sabotage for food shortages and hyperinflation.   It couldn’t possibly be 16 years of currency and price controls. When the head of Venezuela’s liquor store federation warned that the nation was about to run out of beer because of widespread shortages in raw materials he was arrested.

Maduro had troops seized a factory shared by Nestle to create housing for the poor they had already put out of work, as they put even more people out of work at the factory they seized.   Venezuela’s largest private phone company ended service to all but 10 countries last May. The other major private operator cut service to more than 100 countries around the same time, and later told congress it was tens of millions of dollars in debt to foreign providers.

Some have access to Skype but there is very limited Internet. Foreign airlines have abandoned the country over the past year because of Venezuela’s limits on repatriating profits.  Last year, the state-run postal service indefinitely suspended international mail deliveries. Vacations and any travel are out because the government allows very little conversion of Bolivares, now nothing more than monopoly money,  to dollars.

The people of Venezuela are shut off from the world. They suffer under Universal Healthcare {Communist Care} which pays their doctors $15 a month. The sick buy drugs on the street when they can find them or afford them. Cancer patients wait a year-and-a-half for life-saving surgeries.

After meeting with John Kerry, Maduro agreed to hold parliamentary elections, but has made no effort to release imprisoned opposition. Apparently everyone except John Kerry knows that fair elections are a joke in Socialist countries. It’s impossible to get rid of the oppressors once they are in control. People in the United States might think about that as they cheer the loss of freedoms in the hands of a president who has assumed unilateral rule.

In Socialist countries, Social Justice, the mantra of the likes of Obama and the Pope, doesn’t mean justice for everyone.   The rich get richer and the poor just get screwed!







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