When socialist revolutionary Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela in 1998, the country had been on an upward trajectory — politically, socially, and economically — thanks to outsized oil wealth.
In short, Venezuela was well on its way to breaking the mold of most South American countries: It was prospering, had a vibrant democracy, and though problems existed, it was heading in the right direction.
But Chavez would change his country’s trajectory. Or, more to the point, his socialist policies would.
He was swept into power by citizens who had been duped by his promises of free health care for all, which — in 1999 — he had written into the Constitution: “Health is a fundamental social right, an obligation of the State,” Fox News notes.
He also promised more equity and ‘fairness’ when it come to wealth as a way to “overcome poverty.” He mandated higher wages (like mandating a higher minimum wage), and while initially he made some progress in reducing poverty and expanding healthcare, the rules and realities of socialist economics soon set in.
Experts noted that Chavez’s reforms were based on his country’s existing wealth, not on creating new wealth.
â€œHe took from the private sector that existed, and enjoyed buoyant oilÂ prices, to buy off the electorate,â€ Fergus Hodgson, executive editor of Antigua Report, a Latin American business consulting agency, told Fox News.
â€œThis strategy was great in the shortÂ term, but it crushed investment and new businesses. Predictably, whenÂ economic activity and oil prices went south, he resorted to printingÂ money, and we all know what has happened.â€
By last year the country’s healthcare system was in shambles. Basic supplies and medicines were scarce if they existed at all. Hospitals fell into disrepair. Venezuelans suffered and died. Medical staff, especially highly educated doctors and nurses, fled the country for better opportunities.
And the economy is also a disaster. Food is also scarce; Venezuelans, on average, have lost 24 pounds over the past few years. Video of a group of hungry citizens surrounding and killing a cow in a field has surfaced.
Many eat from garbage cans:
HELP VENEZUELA STOP HUNGER NOW – Venezuelan eating from garbage pic.twitter.com/v0aruluL6k
— HELP VENEZUELA STOP HUNGER NOW (@HELPVENEZUELAS1) January 25, 2019
The country is now in turmoil, and the current president, Nicolas Maduro — who continued where Chavez left off — has cut off all ties with the United States.
Meanwhile, asÂ The Gateway Pundit notes, some American politicians want to import Venezuela’s economic and social disaster, though they don’t actually say as much. One of them is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a self-avowed Democratic Socialist who has already proposed many of the same economic policies that Chavez and Maduro implemented.
A 70 percent top tax rate on “wealthy” Americans who earn more than $10 million (as a means of ‘leveling the playing field,’ making our society more ‘fair and equitable’). A mandated minimum wage of at least $15 an hour which she would impose on businesses large and small that cannot afford it and would have to lay off workers in order to remain profitable. And of course, “Medicare for all,” which has already been estimated to cost at least $32 trillion over a decade.
She is so fast and loose with her claims that even the liberalÂ Washington Post‘s Fact Checker gave her Three Pinocchios this week for comments she made at a Martin Luther King forum in NYC last weekend.
Ocasio-Cortez has passionately defended her positions, but the results of such policies are clearly playing out in Venezuela, which is now in the midst of a full-scale social and political collapse after following policies she supports to the letter.
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