Venezuela’s Struggle to Survive

Amid a reassertion of U.S.-backed neoliberal policies in Latin America, Venezuela’s socialist government totters at a tipping point, beset by a severe economic crisis, but Lisa Sullivan sees a ground-up struggle of Venezuelans to survive.

By Lisa Sullivan

For 32 years I have called Venezuela home. Its mountains have given me beauty, its barrios have given me music, its struggles have given me purpose, and its people have given me love.  Its Bolivarian Revolution gave me hope.

How could I not feel hope when most of my neighbors –ages 2 to 70, were studying, right in our little potato-growing town in the mountains of western Venezuela. How could I not be hopeful when 18 neighbor families received new homes to replace their unhealthy, crowded living spaces?vene-MMAP-md

How could I not be grateful when my partner received life-saving emergency surgery? Or when my blind friend Chuy had his sight restored. Both for free.

But today, this is what I see from my porch:  neighbors digging frantically in barren, already-harvested potato fields, hoping to find a few overlooked little spuds. Rastreando they call it. It is an act of desperation to find any food source to keep the kids from crying, because for months, the shelves of the stores have been bare.

How did this happen?  That is the question that I bolt awake to every morning.  As I watch Juan Carlos claw the fields for potatoes; as I embrace a tearful Chichila – up and waiting in line since 2 a.m., searching, unsuccessfully, to buy food for her large family; as I see the pounds shed before my eyes from 10-year-old Fabiola. I am glad that my mangos are ripening now. They take some of the empty glare from Fabi’s eyes.

It is often in the deep of the night that I am kept awake by the burning question: When and how will all this end?  Followed by:  And what should I be doing?

When I keep thinking it can’t get any worse, it does.  When friends from the U.S. write to ask if they should believe the scary articles about Venezuela’s crisis in the press, I want to say no. Because I know that global vultures are circling my adopted nation, waiting for us to fall.  Venezuela is, after all, home to the planet’s largest reserves of oil.

Much of their suspicion of the barrage of articles about Venezuela’s crisis is the fact that almost every article begins and ends with the same mantra: Socialism = Hunger.  A good example is a recent article in Town Hall entitled: “Venezuelan Socialism Fails at Feeding the Children.” The article goes on to elaborate that between 12 and 26 percent of Venezuelans kids are food insecure (depending on their geography), which would average 19.3 percent childhood hunger in the country.

Just for a comparison, I looked up child hunger in the U.S. and found that most sites use the figure one in five. Or 20 percent. So, in the world’s most prosperous nation 20 percent of children face hunger, while in Venezuela the number is 19.3 percent .  Since these statistics are so close, I suggest that Town Hall publish a more accurate and equally urgent article entitled: “US Capitalism Fails at Feeding the Children, and Venezuelan Socialism Does only Slightly Better.”

But most of our caution with these stories comes because we smell danger.  How many times have we seen the first step on that well-traveled road to U.S. intervention paved by these heart-wrenching  stories rammed 24/7 by the media. They lay the groundwork, help to justify almost anything.

However, in spite of awareness of why we are being bombarded with stories of Venezuela’s crisis,  out of respect for friends, neighbors and family in Venezuela, I must acknowledge that this crisis is real and is brutal.  It is a crisis of critical shortages of food and medicine. Its reasons are extremely complex and fall on many shoulders. And it threatens the health, well-being and future of too many Venezuelans today, especially the poorest ones, such as my neighbors.

What Happened?

How did the nation with the world’s largest reserves come to this, a nation of hungry and desperate people?  Well, that depends on who you ask. The opposition blames President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro blames the U.S. The press blames socialism. Maduro’s ruling party blames capitalism. Economists blame price controls. Businesses blame bureaucracy. Everyone blames corruption.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo credit: Valter Campanato/ABr)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo credit: Valter Campanato/ABr)

Most would agree, however, that the underlying culprit is a three letter word.  OIL – the source of 95 percent of Venezuela’s exports. OIL – the cash cow that funds easy, cheap imports. OIL- the export giant that deters domestic production.

Living in a rural community that actually does produce food, and having also traveled extensively in this lush and fertile country, it is sometimes hard to believe that Venezuela imports more than 70 percent of its food.  But I shouldn’t be surprised. Quite simply, for decades, it has been much cheaper to import food than to produce it.

At least that was the case when oil prices were up. And they were up for a long time. As recently as two years ago, the price of oil was about $115 per barrel. This February, Venezuelan crude plummeted to barely $23 a barrel. That is only $3 more than the approximately $20 cost of extracting it.

So, when the profit per barrel of oil goes from $95 to $3, it’s like your salary going from something like $50,000 a year to $1,600. Could you feed your household?

Well, if you were wise, you would have saved for a rainy day, or not put all your eggs in one basket, or at least grown some food in your backyard in case you couldn’t get to the supermarket.  Indeed, the late President Hugo Chavez talked a lot about this. And he even took some steps to set this in motion.

But somehow, economic diversification never happened.  Oil became a larger share of the economy under the Bolivarian revolution. Imports grew. Some say this was because Chavez was too preoccupied with the task of providing healthcare, education and shelter to a previously-abandoned household before launching on major home repairs.

Some say because chavismo made it very hard for businesses to produce (although in reality, most large businesses in Venezuela don’t actually produce, they just import things already produced. And, then – to boot – they actually purchase them with dollars provided almost for free by the government.)  That puts a little perspective on their rants.

With oil prices crashing to the basement this winter, Venezuela  could no longer afford to import food. And to make matters worse, most of the imported trickles of food and medicine that do reach Venezuela these days, never actually reach the average person. Especially the average poor person.  A good chunk of this food and this medicine ends up in the greedy hands of corrupt businesses, bureaucrats, military, ruling party members, and black-marketers.

Scarcity almost always leads to hoarding and scalping products. But add to that mix the fact that most basic food and medicines are price-controlled by the government.  A kilo of corn flour costs about 2 cents at the regulated price, and can easily fetch at $2 – or much, much more – on the black market. Who wouldn’t want to get their hand in this business of hoarding and reselling? Especially considering that the salary of even an engineer hovers around $30 – $40 a month.

And I haven’t even talked about the dysfunctional currency system that contributes to the diminishing power of salaries. There is only too much bad economic stuff to stomach.

The Harsh Reality

No matter what the reason, the result that matters now is this: Venezuela depends almost totally on imports  for most items of basic necessity, and it has almost run out of money to buy these imports, which these days mostly end up in the wrong hands anyway.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Obviously, getting the motors of domestic agriculture and production up and running is the long-term solution. But while all this will take years – perhaps decades – Fabi is hungry.

So, is it true that Venezuela is about to go over the edge?  Well, it may, even before I finish this article. My partner just texted to say that roads to our town are blocked with hunger protests and he is returning to the city.

But to me, the extraordinary thing is that Venezuela has not exploded until now. This crisis is now several years old really, depending on how you measure it.

The fact that the upper echelons of Venezuelan have not exploded is because many have given up on their country and left: two million, mostly young professionals. They are the ones who can qualify for the visas and afford the plane tickets. Some with fewer resources have also left, like those who are paddling to neighboring islands in handmade rafts, including a few whose lifeless bodies drifted to the shores of Aruba.

The fact that those at the lower economic rung have not yet exploded (until now) has different reasons. Venezuelans are an extremely generous people, with a natural sense of solidarity. Whenever those few small spuds are culled from neighboring fields by Rafa, he places a bag of them at my doorstep. I pass bananas to Jenny over my fence. She passes pinto beans to Erica over hers. Erica passes yucca next door to Chichila, Fabi brings me fish that she caught when skipping school, I provide the oil in which to fry it.

This solidarity and natural bartering system that has unfolded in our Venezuela-in-crisis is beautiful, and it is what has allowed us to survive until now. These good-news stories can’t complete with the bad news that the press loves, you have to come and see with your own eyes.

The second reason for delayed explosion is this: Most Venezuelans know that chavismo has (or had) their back, and are very reluctant to give it up. President Chavez very concretely and very pro-actively cared about them. He reduced poverty dramatically and created the most economically equal society in the Americas.

In contrast, the opposition is widely perceived as caring only about themselves. Probably this is because their only agenda item over the years was to topple the government. Small wonder they rarely won the many national elections over the past 17 years.

The opposition did, however win December’s parliamentary elections. Decisively so.  But many see this as less a vote of confidence for the opposition, than one of punishment against the Maduro administration, perceived as tone-deaf to their suffering. Although many share Maduro’s belief that the crisis is caused by the right-wing-led economic war , they wonder why he hasn’t done more to combat it.

But this is my sense of the moment:  The majority of Venezuelans today are not fans of the opposition. Nor are they fans of the current administration. However (to the chagrin of the State Department) this doesn’t mean that the majority of Venezuelans are not fans of chavismo).

Solutions, Anyone? 

So, what is to be done? The solutions to the crisis are as conflicting as the causes. The three major players (Venezuelan government, opposition, and the U.S.) spend endless amounts of time and resources pointing fingers of blame to one another, while doing a poor job of hiding their real political and economic interests. Meanwhile, the losers are the people of Venezuela, who grow hungrier and hungrier.

Somewhat better solutions are coming from Latin America itself. The region has become far more integrated and vastly more independent from the U.S. than previously (and many believe this to be Hugo Chavez’s greatest legacy). This was clear when OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro tried to set into motion Venezuela’s removal from the organization. He received resounding no from its members, including those of the new emerging right. Instead, the OAS member states opted to give support to an ongoing process of dialogue between the government and the opposition. The idea of government-opposition dialogue is not a bad idea. It’s just not enough.

The long-term solution to Venezuela’s problems must come from all sectors of Venezuela. Not just from two polar opposites who have driven Venezuelans to hunger in their pursuit of political and economic power.

Many, but not all, of those excluded identify with chavismo. But there is no political space for them in the tightly controlled hierarchical ruling party structure, nor room for them on the ballot (the largest political party that identifies with chavismo was excluded from elections because the electoral board did not like their name.) Some identify more with the opposition, especially certain pragmatic administrators willing to listen to and accommodate ideas from across the aisle.

Most of these in-between sectors, that I believe make up Venezuela’s majority, want to see less political rhetoric and more economic action. The currency system must undergo radical change. The poor must be guaranteed access to food, but not by subsidizing the product (which ends up in the hands of the corrupt and not the mouths of the poor), but subsidizing their families.

And finally, there is a treasure trove of creative grassroots initiatives and productive solutions that this crisis has unleashed and that merit attention. While Maduro prays for higher oil prices and markets his nation’s pristine lands to Canadian mining companies in a desperate lunge for dollars; and while the U.S. and the Venezuelan opposition push for social explosion and/or military uprising; the  people of Venezuela  are busy.

They are busy planting food in their backyards and patios, using alternative medicine, sharing with one another, developing a barter system, and creating hundreds, or maybe thousands of products from recycled or locally-sourced renewable sources . These may not totally solve the immediate food crisis but, in the long run, they may actually be opening the door to the kind of society in which we can all survive and thrive.

And back to that 3 a.m. question of what can I do. I guess just more of the same, writing down my thoughts and ripping up more of my lawns to plant food with my neighboring children. Two more hours and I”ll be up with the dawn, awaiting Fabi and friends with shovel and hoe in hand.

Lisa Sullivan has lived in Latin America since 1977. She was a Maryknoll lay worker in Bolivia and Venezuela for over 20 years, coordinator for School of the Americas Watch and founder of grassroots leadership group, Centro de Formación Rutilio Grande.She has three children, raised in Barquisimeto Venezuela.

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27 comments for “Venezuela’s Struggle to Survive

  1. the socialist capitalist
    June 13, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Currently Venezuela is a horrific example of squandered opportunities by their “revolutionary” leaders.
    But If somebody doubts there is a force trying to make Venezuela fail you’ve obviously not read about the attempted coup of 2002.
    The recent regime change in both Honduras and Brazil shows the even today the ‘bees’ are busy behind the scenes.
    Just like Nicaragua under the Sandinista government, which IMF praised for their efforts, it had to be destroyed.
    The fear of a good example was just too great.

    However like the author says the main problem is the dependence of oil and the basic misunderstanding of macro-economics.
    You’d think Chavez and Co. would have woken up to the dangers at least after the coup attempt, but sadly no. Diversification in all sectors would greatly increase the robustness both to political and financial manipulation, not to mention financial crashes and commodity prices. But typically the far left are just as clueless about what actually works as the right wing neo-liberal sharks.

    You could say the motivations of feeding the poor is much better than feeding the elite, but when people end up starving it doesn’t really matter. Few socialist movements have the expertise to implement the correct kind of system to take on the elite sharks head on and win. Greece could maybe have pulled it off but the the leftist politicians didn’t have the balls and the people hesitated. After all the politicians even on the far left aren’t exactly part of the proletariat. Even if they are they rarely have the knowledge needed to implement sound policies or willing to include people who do. Ideologies works so well in theory, but in most cases it’s just like religion. What works in one sector may not work in another. Evidence based policies and the scientific method is the only way to have consistent results.

    So if you can’t do that then it might be smarter to “play ball” with the elite to some extent and have a compromise. Let them enrich themselves a bit so they have something to lose if it all goes to shit. You still have plenty left over for social programs, infrastructure and hey instead of price controls how about a small basic income? Free market economics does work at small/local scales, just make sure nobody is too dominant. And for the love of God make sure you control the banks by the balls and only take on foreign loans denominated in your own local currency.

    • J'hon Doe II
      June 13, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      the socialist capitalist
      June 13, 2016 at 4:57 am
      Currently Venezuela is a horrific example of squandered opportunities by their “revolutionary” leaders
      ::

      “squandered opportunities” in your nomenclature, = the failure to sell-out one’s nation/natural resources to US/International ‘investors’.

      http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_74200.shtml

  2. TruthTime
    June 12, 2016 at 12:40 am

    Did anyone actually read the article? Their government relied on foreign food imports and oil money. That’s the crux of the issue as it is now. So of course the money ran dry when trying to provide for the people. Put aside whatever idea you have about an “-ism” and realize that. Venezuela’s future will depend on whether or not they can solve those issues – i.e., the country should go for Green energy, rather than depending on Oil and encourage food to be produced from within the country, which will need to be completed in a rapid manner considered the tremendous amount of food import they rely on.

    So Lisa Sullivan, thank you for the excellent article – if you even do happen to read the comment section. It’s amazing to hear how people within your community are coming together and growing their own food while bartering for trade.

    • J'hon Doe II
      June 12, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      You failed to mention the scandalous sanctions We Imposed under Obama as well as a debilitating manipulation of the oil market. Hugo Chavez was a robust, full blooded man who was removed in the manner of Iran’s Mossadeq in 1953. Exact formula.- Overthrow by instigation/ political manipulation, etc…

      • J'hon Doe II
        June 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm

        Wall Street Behind Brazil Coup d’Etat

        By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
        Global Research, June 01, 2016

        Control over monetary policy and macro-economic reform was the ultimate objective of the Coup d’Etat. The key appointments from Wall Street’s standpoint are the Central Bank, which dominates monetary policy as well as foreign exchange transactions, the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Brazil (Banco do Brasil).

        On behalf of Wall Street and the “Washington consensus”, the interim post coup “government” of Michel Temer has appointed a former Wall Street CEO (with U.S citizenship) to head the Ministry of Finance.

        Henrique de Campos Meirelles, a former President of FleetBoston Financial’s Global Banking (1999-2002) and former head of the Central Bank under Lula’s presidency was appointed minister of finance on May 12.

        New President of the Central Bank of Brazil Ilan GoldfeinIlan Goldfajn [Goldfein] (right) appointed to head the Central Bank, was chief economist of Itaú, Brazil’s largest private bank. Goldfajn [Goldfein] has close ties to both the IMF and the World Bank. He is a financial crony of Meirelles.

        Historical Background

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/wall-street-behind-brazil-coup-d-etat/5526715

  3. Mark Jerling
    June 11, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Despite her many little jabs at the US trying to blame it for Venezuela’s many failures, the crisis was 100% self-inflicted by the Chavistas. The US had no role in this and has no plans to intervene– why would we want to inherent this mess? My old employer clearly saw where things were heading and pulled out 10 years ago, leaving a $7.5 billion investment behind. Capitalism creates the wealth that socialism gives away (yes this was even true in Sweden), until there is nothing else to give away and the economy is destroyed.

    • Joe L.
      June 11, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Mark Jerling… Of course, the US didn’t have a role – wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I mean it is not like there is a “history” of US intervention and coups in Latin America. It’s not like the US trained 11 Latin American Dictators (and their death squads) at the School of the America’s (now WHINSEC), located in Fort Benning, Georgia, and destroyed “democracies” all across the region installing them. In Honduras 2009, I guess I must just be imagining that a graduate of the School of the America’s helped pull off the coup – which Hillary Clinton was so happy about. Also, when it comes to Venezuela it isn’t like US NGO’s such as the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID helped fund opposition protesters, opposition media, and opposition government officials (many of whom got government posts in the short lived coup government) before the short lived coup against Hugo Chavez. Then what happened the people from the barrios flooded the streets, realizing their democracy was being stolen, and Chavez was reinstated.

      As for Capitalism, was it not vulture capitalism that nearly brought down the entire world’s economy in 2007/2008 for which the world has still not recovered – the emerging economies also not immune to this. I mean capitalism, in its’ present form is so wonderful! What is it now we went from something like over 100 people having the same wealth as “half of the world” something around 5 years ago and now it is something like 62 people having the same wealth as “half of the world”. Seems to me that capitalism, in its’ present form, is really “class” warfare and I am all for more socialism to try to balance this out unless we want to keep seeing this trend accelerate where the rich get richer, the middle class becomes obliterated, and poor nations that are resource rich are further exploited instead of raising their populations out of poverty.

      I truly hope that the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America grows and Latin America further moves from under the US’ imperialist boot along with Washington’s “dictates”. To me, that is freedom, where Latin America could plot its’ own course in the world together in the face of the imperialist and colonialist past.

  4. Oz
    June 10, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    I’m curious as to why there is no mention in this article of the economic sanctions imposed upon Venezuela by Obama. I have a feeling that they must play some role in the nation’s misery.

    • Kim
      June 11, 2016 at 12:39 am

      Confessions of an Economic Hitman is enlightening and surprisingly sold at Barnes N Noble. Also surprisingly not everyone has read it!

  5. Gringo Niche
    June 10, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    WOW…. Did the author mention a medical procedure in this article? For his reputation he may want to retract that ridiculous phrase. Hospitals in Caracas have no electricity 4-8 hours a day….Doctors wash their hands with seltzer, post-op are sheets from home placed in the floor where you lay down…..no a/c most of the time.
    .
    Chavez was like a 16 year old kid that won 3 million in the lottery. He spent, spent, spent, spent, then….uppps, no cash and addicted to spending. Venezuela was in economic collapse 5 years ago, when Oil was well above $110 and there was no drought in Venezuela,

    • J'hon Doe II
      June 10, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      I plead w/u, find and read the Perkins book, find the book by Perkins…

    • David Smith
      June 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      WOW….another “Gringo” who has found a “Niche” as a paid poster. “No cash and addicted to spending” Gringo Niche found a way to earn money at home in his spare time!!!

      • Joe L.
        June 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        David Smith… I find it amazing how all of these very angry people come out of the woodwork seemingly pushing US administrative views on Russia, China, Venezuela, Brazil etc. People calling Hugo Chavez, whom I believe raised a huge amount of people out of poverty, as a “dictator” even though he was elected and, I believe, won 4 elections in 14 years. Now this is generally where someone says something like “Chavez” or “Putin” or whomever could be President for life, that is not democratic, but then I generally point out that many western countries do not have term limits such as Canada, Britain, Australia etc. Overall though Chavez was NOT a dictator. Then they almost violently start equating “Socialism” with “Communism”.

        Recently the Intercept has been running articles about the coup in Brazil and also comparing what is happening in Venezuela. Seemed to me that the Intercept got flooded with people calling “socialism” communism and I was even having a discussion with one fellow who believed, in the 21st century, that it was O.K. for the Temer government in Brazil to have an “all white, all male” government even though I pointed out that over 50% of Brazilians are “women” and over 50% of Brazilians are multiracial (seems largely of African origin). Yet even after pointing that out he still defended the Temer government. As for me, I do hope the Bolivarian Revolution continues because I believe that it is more about “freedom” and “democracy” than the alternative. I see the Bolivarian Revolution as the people of Latin America trying to free themselves from the imperialist “dictates” of the United States and an attempt to circumvent their colonialist past from Europe.

        So overall, I don’t know if I am talking to normal people when I write an opinion about Venezuela, Brazil, China, Russia or any other country that is not under the US’ boot but I am also aware of the US program (as I am sure other countries have as well), I believe it is CENTCOM in California, that manipulates social media with soldiers posting as regular people from all around the world to try to sway the online conversation.

        The Guardian: “Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media” (March 17, 2011):

        The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

        A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

        https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

        • Joe L.
          June 11, 2016 at 1:45 pm

          I guess overall we need to be aware that governments, even on social media, are trying to manipulate the way we think. We also need to realize that there are diverse opinions on any given subject. Overall, I just think that we need to not let ourselves be swayed and stick with our convictions – regardless whom we are talking to online because you never really know whom you are conversing with…

    • Joe B
      June 11, 2016 at 8:21 am

      Gosh, you fooled everyone with your right-wing lies, wasn’t that easy?

    • Dosamuno
      June 11, 2016 at 9:37 am

      God bless America, the Monroe Doctrine, and the obsequious comprador class.

  6. Gringo Niche
    June 10, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    CHAMO….ESTAS CIEGO ! ! !
    Iman American who worked for Bear Stearns in Caracas and saw intimately the fall of Veezuela. 100% caused by Chavez;
    – PDVSA was delisted from the NYSE because THEY failed to provide 10Qs (quarterly reports) as is law. They failed to do so because Chavez (he admitted publically) was using PDVSA funds for ‘other things (oil hand outs, his $1,800,000,000 fortune amassed…)
    CARGILL was nationalized, as were well over 1,200 companies. Last year, with oil at $120 per barrel, less that 15% of nationalized corporations were still in business. The owners (Venezuelan government) bankrupted them. No right wing business owner war when the owner is the Government
    CARGILL: This gem produced most rice (both raw & par) and was nationalized. ANYONE complaining there is a lack of rice must by Venezuelan law look to the owners of Cargill in Venezuela……The Venezuelan Government
    GENERALS: There are approx. 480 Generals in all armed forces in the US. Venezuela has over 800. Its clear ‘someone’ wants to keep the military happy $$$ in $$$ Venezuela
    US MILITARY: There have been zero…ZERO movements that suggest any military buildup near Venezuela since Maduro trook over. Short response teams are in Colombia, as they’ve been for 30+ years. Maduros claims of US attacks are believed by only ignorant idiots.
    OIL MYHTS: Venezuela sells very little net-net oil to the US. Most oil is to pay for US refineries to convert to Diesel, then send back. Venezuela is importing between 300,000 & 700,000 barrels of Texas Intermediate (TMI) a day from US refineries to blend their crude
    THEFT: Chavez came to office with an admitted net worth of roughly $350,000 and during his term in office said extensively that ‘to be rich is evil’ and…he died with a proven bet worth of $1,800,000,000 (1.8 BILLION)
    MARIA: Chavez’ daughter had a net worth that was clearly below $100,000 when ‘dad’ took office, held mid-level government posts for roughly 11 years and upon dads death moved to Argentina with proven $4,300,000,000 (4.3 BILLION)
    LIES: Venezuelan people see pallets of food stashed away behind storefronts, yet can understand this DID NOT HAPPEN before Maduro created the environment for it to happen.
    .
    In closing; many ignorant people pountto drought, el nino, global warming, US economic war as reasons for Venezuelas fall. Reality shows us that Venezuela was in free fall years before el nino, drought, and oil price decreases. There is one reason for Venezuelas fall…..The bloated ego of a dictator
    .
    Does the author of this article want to argue the facts he was just presented? Does he want to mention ONE…ANY economic ‘attack’ made by the private sector against the Venezuelan government?…..

  7. J'hon Doe II
    June 10, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Hugo Chavez deeply cared for the people of his country. The neocons destroyed him. Made him an example of all who support their own people against the will of the banks/Washington consensus economic rulership of the world.

    John Perkins gave us “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”
    c.2004, and tells of militarized international economic warfare.

    We are always ‘the barbarians at the gate’ – attacking sovereign countries at will and with brutality.
    Find a review of this book.

    Chavez, it seemed, was surreptitiously thrown into disfavor by decision of international banking manipulation.
    His ‘bush is the devil remark’ at UN General Assembly seemed to’ve sealed his fate, as-it-were.

    See his speech within this array : https://www.aei.org/publication/6-unforgettable-speeches-at-the-un-general-assembly/print/

    • jaycee
      June 10, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Chavez’s comment at the UN was extremely witty. Shortly before that General Assembly there had been a widely distributed news piece wherein W had been described as enjoying making underlings nervous in his presence in the Oval Office by loudly farting. Thus Chavez mentioning the “smell of sulphur” was using the well-known sensory description of the devil while also referring off-hand to Bush’s propensity to farting.

    • SFOMARCO
      June 11, 2016 at 12:39 am

      I went to hear John Perkins a couple of months ago and bought the updated “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” c.2016

  8. Marcos - Brazil
    June 10, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Good try defending the murderous, corrupt dictatorship of Venezuela. Chavez and Maduro destroyed the country. Ask any real citizen of Venezuela, and not a socialist gringo.
    I live in Brazil, and your Bolivarian Marxist Revolution also destroyed my country. Huge corruption, all party leaders flying in private jets with offshore accounts while the poor are taxed to death.. And here, you can’t blame OIL for that !

    • David Smith
      June 10, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      You say you live in Brazil, but you use the word “gringo”? Let’s try again, you live on a US Army base and you make extra money by posing as a……

      • Jerad
        June 10, 2016 at 11:58 pm

        I mean no disrespect to consortium news but do you honestly believe that this site is so influential that people would be paid to post here? Perhaps you simply need to accept that dissenting opinions from regular people might find their way into this echo chamber from time to time.

      • Joe B
        June 11, 2016 at 8:14 am

        Agreed, his English usage is pure American, not even Spanish-american. His views are diametrically opposed to the facts there, and squarely aligned with US right-wing propaganda. There are some right-wing Venezuelans who lost out in their period of progress. But the idea of “party leaders flying in private jets with offshore accounts” and “corrupt dictatorship” is what they would impose, and they know such claims about the “Bolivarians” to be outright lies. So he certainly knows that he is a liar claiming that his egalitarian opponents are what he wants to be. And almost certainly not a Venezuelan at all.

        I would say that you are right: he is a US right-wing agent with some training in propaganda and nothing else, very likely military.

    • Markus
      June 11, 2016 at 8:41 am

      The economy, foreign trade and average net income grew under Chavez. Same with Brazil since the Worker’s Party took power.

      Your unverified claims about dictatorship, private jets & offshore accounts are just simple propaganda (in theory they could be true, but you’d have to prove it).

  9. Bob Van Noy
    June 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Please excuse my enthusiasm, but America has the tools and the means to help world wide, but First we have to get out of the War Business and the Resourse Stealing Business. We know this as a population, but our government infrastructure has gotten in the way for at least 60 years. We can do the right thing…

    • Neil Lori
      June 10, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      Let Venezuelans solve their problems. We should remain neutral about their internal affairs. Local gardens and farms are smart in all countries. Their main problems are corruption drought low oil prices and too many imports plus political turmoil. This kind of collapse can happen here in America in the near future.

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