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What The Hell Is Happening In Venezuela?

by Brandon Turbeville, Activist Post:

As Venezuela continues to burn, Western media outlets are also aflame with reports of the brutal crackdown on protesters, the oppression by the Venezuelan government, and the dire straits of the Venezuelan economy. According to these outlets, the reason Venezuela is in the condition it finds itself in today is simple – a refusal to embrace “Western” democracy and free trade neoliberalism as well as the inherent corruption of oppressive rulers like Chavez and now Maduro.

Unfortunately, many alternative media outlets are aflame with much the same rhetoric, glorifying the “democracy” protesters and the Venezuelan “opposition” while similarly blaming the oppressive Venezuelan government and socialism for the country’s ills. While Venezuela has its problems – economic and governmental – the narrative being peddled by both the mainstream and alternative media outlets are the same. Another similarity between the two is that they also neglect to address many of the causes of Venezuela’s economic issues and the real cause of the protests which have been taking place all over the country for the past few years.

Is The Venezuelan Government Good or Bad?

Simple people tend to want simple answers. It sounds insulting but it’s true. Americans in particular want to hear a complex foreign policy question reduced to a children’s cartoon and questions of good guys versus bad guys. We are the perpetual good guys so another country falls into only two categories – those who work with and obey the United States (good guys) and those who don’t (bad guys). But categorizing foreign governments in such infantile ways is simply unrealistic. It doesn’t help anyone understand anything happening in the real world.

When analyzing the government of Venezuela, one thing that must always be kept in mind is that Venezuela is a sovereign country. It does not threaten the United States, has not demonstrated that it wants to do so, and, even if it did, it is incapable of seriously delivering on any real military operation against the U.S. Thus, Venezuelan domestic affairs are just that, Venezuelan.

That being said, there is no question that Venezuela suffers under incredible economic hardships. There is also no question that the country suffers under a totalitarian state. But there is no question that America suffers under the same situation albeit with less pronounced economic and social unrest (for now). The fact is that, no matter how much Americans and the U.S. government may dislike it, Hugo Chavez was very popular in Venezuela and continues to be popular even after his death. It is also true that there is much dissatisfaction with the ruling government of Maduro both in terms of economics and civil rights. But it is also true that Venezuela is facing a foreign-funded uprising while, at the same time, suffering under American sanctions. Certainly it is unfair to break a runner’s leg and then blame him when he can’t win the race.

The Causes of Venezuela’s Economic Troubles

Venezuela’s economic troubles are now known the world over. Lack of jobs, low wages, poor working conditions, food shortages, and the like are now becoming synonymous with the nation itself. But what is the source of such economic hardship? Western corporate media outlets tend to blame government corruption and a lack of adequate free trade neo-liberalism and privatization of services and the Venezuelan national bank. Many alternative media outlets are jumping on the bandwagon, too, claiming that Venezuela’s troubles are a result of socialism and the lack of a free market.

The corporate media argument should be dismissed out of hand. After decades of “free trade” and neoliberal economics of privatization, lack of tariffs, and lowering of wages and working standards, any person who has two brain cells firing together realizes that WTO Free Trade economics not only doesn’t work but that they are a cancer on the world that has done nothing but reap unemployment, low living standards, and social unrest.

The alternative media’s blame-placing on socialism and corruption, while making more valid points, should also be looked at with scrutiny. Certainly corruption is a major issue in Venezuela. What Venezuelans (and many other countries) accept as the normal cost of doing business has traditionally been better concealed in Western countries, thus Americans and Europeans are often convinced that their countries are somewhere free of the corruption so openly seen in “Third World” nations. However, it is a fact of life that Venezuela suffers under a level of corruption greater than many other countries across the world which contributes to difficulty in accomplishing anything, economic and otherwise, positive.

Socialism, likewise, poses its own set of problems. Higher taxation, more and more governmental control over everyday aspects of life, and greater citizen dependency on the government for basic needs tends to choke off economic activity and, once the central government experiences problems, those problems are felt throughout the rest of society, making more problems and compounding the original issue. However, one cannot simply reduce the Venezuelan economic crisis down to a Capitalist vs. Socialist economic battle with Venezuela doing poorly simply because it didn’t adhere to the similarly deeply flawed ideology of capitalism.

The fact is that Venezuela has been suffering for around a decade and a half from intense American sanctions, crippling the ability of the government to function properly and the economy to operate at its own pace and effectively implement its own economic policy in the way that other countries are able to do. In 2006, the United States applied sanctions on Venezuela, four years after attempting a coup on the Venezuelan president, and it has added more sanctions almost every year. How can socialism be blamed for Venezuela’s hardship when the country is under an economic blitzkrieg from one of the largest economies on the face of the planet? If Venezuela does fall, it won’t be because socialism brought it down. It will be because the United States underwent great financial and logistical expense to destabilize, starve, and undermine it.

The Destabilization Of Venezuela

Under the leadership of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was a stalwart source of resistance to the plans of the Anglo-Americans for years, particularly since the George W. Bush administration and, like all other imperialist policies, continuing through the Obama administration.

Likewise, for just as long, Chavez’ government was the target of US/NATO-backed destabilization efforts, covert operations, and political pressure.

Read More @ ActivistPost.com

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