The Other Explanation for Venezuela’s Economic Crisis

By Peter Bolton, Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

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Reports in the English-language press last week highlighted a series of small-scale street protests in Venezuela that bemoaned the scarcity of certain basic products, chronic shortages of medical supplies, and continued power and water outages throughout the country. According to Reuters, for instance, more than a thousand such protests occurred in January and February and, taken together, “show the depth of public anger” and “could become a catalyst for wider unrest.”[1] News accounts proclaiming Venezuela’s state of emergency are not new but in recent weeks have reached hysterical levels, with the Boston-based Global Post claiming that Venezuela’s economic situation is now “worse than 1960s Cuba.”[2]

The mainstream narrative explanation is that the crisis is the result of economic mismanagement and the ideological rigidity of the country’s “authoritarian” Chavista led-government. For instance, Andreas E. Feldmann, Federico Merke, and Oliver Stuenkel, writing for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote last November that “Venezuela’s steep recession has been worsened by economic mismanagement leading to mounting inflation, a widening fiscal deficit, and growing shortages of essential goods including food, soap, and diapers.”[3] Similarly, Arlecchino Gomez at The Daily Signal, wrote, also last November, that Venezuela’s recession “was largely due to government incompetence and mismanagement.”[4]

The Workings of the “Free” Market

These sentiments are strongly predicated on the standard line of economic thought prevailing in the Western media and political class: that stringent price and currency controls are distorting the mechanisms of the “free” market and have led to stagnant production, soaring inflation and a burgeoning black market in U.S. dollars and consumer goods. The explicit or strongly implied conclusion is that the crisis proves beyond doubt that socialism “doesn’t work” and that the solution to Venezuela’s ills is a return with gusto to Chicago School economic policy and hence a restoration of the unimpeded mechanisms of the market. Making this point in Forbes magazine, Tim Walstall goes so far as to compare the situation in Venezuela with the collapse of the Soviet Union; he argues that the solution “is to do as Russia did at the end of their socialist nightmare… [and implement] an immediate move to full blown free marketry [sic].”[5] To achieve this, “regime change” is presented as an imperative prerequisite and the only viable way for things to improve. Michael Shifter, writing in Foreign Affairs, says that even though many on the Latin American left initially found Chavismo an “appealing alternative to market-based approaches,” these days “few dispute that it has failed.”[6]

The Alternative Thesis

Within Venezuela itself, however, this analysis is just one of two competing narratives, both of which are discussed and taken seriously in discussions of policy, governance, and economic dynamics. The economic mismanagement thesis is the natural position taken by the Venezuelan opposition and its allies. But the fact that it is practically the only narrative reported in the English-language press misrepresents the intricacies of Venezuela’s economic problems while revealing how Western media heavily favor the opposition’s analysis, often by its own admission. (Rory Carroll of The Guardian, for instance, boasted that he moved almost exclusively in opposition elite circles while based in Caracas as the paper’s Latin America editor.)

But there is another narrative, favored by the government and the pro-Chavista social movements and civil society sectors, which, it is important to stress, are independent of the government. This perspective can loosely be called the economic war thesis. It explains the crisis in terms of the economic and social dynamics at play outside policy and governmental action. It holds that business sectors friendly to the opposition are waging an aggressive and protracted campaign of economic sabotage to deliberately stir up social unrest to destabilize and discredit the governing Chavista bloc and in the ensuing chaos bring about an end to the PSUV government and the installation of a new one made up of opposition parties. The central pillars of the economic war thesis are that these hostile sectors have been engaging in acts such as hoarding and price speculation and have purposely generated scarcity in pursuit of calculated chaos.

Naturally, all of the allegations that make up this narrative are dismissed out of hand by the opposition, which argues that they amount to a desperate propaganda stunt to shift blame from the government’s own incompetence onto its political opponents. President Nicolás Maduro’s use of the term “bourgeois parasites” in particular has been seized on by opposition commentators to portray him as a hopeless buffoon desperately holding onto to power and flailingly seeking to prop up a failed political project. Friendly commentators in the Western press are equally disparaging, with the aforementioned Michael Shifter, for instance, claiming that these accusations “have no merit,” but do serve to “show that any semblance of cooperation between the executive and the assembly to alleviate the country’s economic collapse is, at least for now, far-fetched.”[7] Similarly, Jeffrey Taylor writes in Foreign Policy, “Maduro’s response [to shortages and currency crises] has been to blame everything on scheming “Yanquis,” Venezuela’s “far-right elite,” the “parasitic bourgeois,” and, of course, the opposition, “even though he has effectively neutralized its leadership.”[8]

But though more scholarly research is necessary for a detailed and considered analysis of the myriad factors contributing to Venezuela’s economic situation, it is worth giving the claims of Chavismo a fair hearing. A fuller picture shows that this alternate thesis should not be so glibly dismissed.

Take hoarding, for instance. Before Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998, the economic levers of society were near-exclusively in the hands of a social elite of overwhelmingly light-skinned Venezuelans: the inhabitants of the wealthy neighborhoods of Venezuela’s urban centers and wealthy landowners of the campo. Not only were they in charge of importation, distribution and wholesaling of all manner of goods for the Venezuelan markets, but they also had a stranglehold over the state apparatus needed to profiteer from effective importation in the first place. A central goal of Chavismo was to wrest control of the economic levers from this elite and more evenly disperse it throughout society. The Chávez and Maduro administrations have sought to democratize economic decision-making and predicate it on serving the public interest rather than the pursuit of private profit.

Confronting Entrenched Privilege

Political psychology provides important insights into the socio-economic dynamics of Venezuelan society. In his book, Angry White Men, sociologist Michael Kimmel argues that much of white men’s rage in the United States is the result of privileges that were historically bestowed on them gradually becoming less automatic. As historically disadvantaged sectors gain more opportunities and influence, the change appears to the previously favored group as a great injustice.[9] The same dynamic is evident in Venezuela: an unaccountable elite of overwhelmingly white, Euro-descent Venezuelans hold positions of influence and has had control of many of the important economic decisions. In great part the Chavista movement was based on giving voice to the country’s poor majority, which incidentally is overwhelmingly black, brown, indigenous, and/or mixed race. Hugo Chávez was himself of mixed-race heritage, with European, native Venezuelan, and African ancestry. The mere idea that such a person (or mono, meaning monkey, as the opposition frequently called him) could be president and give voice to the dark-skinned chusma was seen as a veritable insult to the Venezuelan elite.

The Chávez and Maduro governments have attempted to transition Venezuela away from a society that has been not only inherently racist and classist, but also highly rigid, stratified and oligarchic. Problems inevitably arise because this elite already holds the reins and can aggressively resist a recalibration of economic and social power. In 1998, the highly corrupt business class controlled almost every economic structure imaginable from distribution of food and production of oil to systems for obtaining dollars and importing consumer goods. As James Petras and Henry Veitmeyer argue in their 2013 book What’s Left in Latin America? Regime Change in New Times, “The government’s socialist project depends on mass social organizations capable of advancing on the economic elite and cleaning the neighborhoods of rightwing thugs, gangsters and paramilitary agents of the Venezuelan oligarchs and [Colombia’s] Uribe regime.”[10] Since these are the people who were already in positions of economic power and influence when the Bolivarian process began, their ability to throw a wrench in the government’s efforts for reform has been formidable. Ryan Mallet-Outtrim, writing in Venezuela Analysis, points out that “Venezuela’s private sector has long attacked the socialist government.” So much so, he adds, “that for years Venezuelans have acknowledged that scarcity of basic consumer goods spikes around important elections, as businesses seek to pressure voters into turning against Chavismo.”[11]

Evidence of such efforts by pro-opposition sectors has not been lacking. Immediately following the opposition victory in the 2015 National Assembly elections, for instance, social media commentators indicated that staple goods miraculously began to reappear on shelves throughout the country.[12] Tellingly, some of the products had expiration dates that suggested that the problem was not with production but rather with distribution, which is largely controlled by the right-wing business elite. By creating this kind of scarcity, the elite were essentially trying to starve the public into rejecting the revolution, a tactic influenced by the United States’ economic blockade against Cuba.

When these dynamics are taken in the wider context of Venezuelan politics over the last two decades, they begin to seem less and less ridiculous and more and more plausible. Throughout the period of Chavismo there have been times when these aggressive tactics of economic sabotage have been too obvious to allow for the opposition’s usual equivocation. During the so-called oil strike, for example, opposition forces led by Venezuela’s largest business association, Fedecamaras, orchestrated a nationwide disruption of oil production in hopes that the ensuing economic chaos would destabilize the government and precipitate a coup.[13] Taken in the context of this history of instigated pandemonium, the economic war thesis emerges as at least equally worthy of consideration as its major competitor.

Internal and External Challenges to the Revolution

None of this is to say, of course, that there are no legitimate criticisms of the central government, far less that the opposition’s explanation for the economic crisis should be dismissed as casually as it dismisses the government’s. Yet there are mitigating factors that must be raised in the government’s defense. The Bolivarian process has attempted not just to pay the social debt that was owed the country’s poor majority, but also to radically transform society by offering an alterative development model to the neoliberal consensus of the 1980s and 1990s that plunged the entire region into disarray. The Chávez and Maduro administrations have attempted this task while facing constant hostility not only from an aggressive internal political opposition that has often resorted to violence, but also from the hemisphere’s hegemon, the United States. Washington, which almost instinctively has been opposed to Chavismo from day one, has consistently interfered in Venezuela’s internal affairs in the hope of crushing the Bolivarian process. From a Bush administration-backed[14] and CIA-aided[15] coup in 2002, in which then-President Chavez was nearly removed from power by force, to refusals to recognize Chavista electoral victories, threats of sanctions, and covert funding for opposition candidates, the United States had been determined to do everything possible to ensure that it would fail. The United States has viciously opposed anything that threatens the dominance of the unfettered neoliberal capitalist vision that it has sought to defend, and then spread, throughout the world. As William Camacaro and COHA Senior Research Fellow Fred Mills wrote early last year in Counterpunch, “A great deal hangs in the balance with regard to the feasibility of advancing a democratic socialist project while under the continuous attack of a U.S.-backed opposition, elements of which are bent on restoring the neoliberal regime.”[16]

The U.S. mainstream media, overwhelmingly owned by large corporations and loyal to their interests, naturally reflects and promulgates the ideological contours of this worldview. Herein lies the explanation for why the debate has been so narrow, so inordinately skewed toward the opposition’s account of the situation, and so disregarding of the complexities and subtleties of the discourse regarding the admittedly tragic and desperate circumstances in which the Venezuelan people find themselves.

By Peter Bolton, Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Please accept this document as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution. Exclusive rights can be negotiated. For additional news and analysis on Latin America, please go to: and Rights Action.

Featured Photo: Venezuela Central Madeirense. Taken from Wikimedia.

[1] “Small Protests Proliferate in Simmering Venezuela,” The New York Times, accessed March 21, 2016,

[2] “Venezuelans in the US say their country is worse than 1960s Cuba,” Global Post, accessed March 21, 2016,

[3] “Venezuela’s Political Crisis: Can Regional Actors Help?,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed March 21, 2016,

[4] “Venezuela’s Economic Crisis,” The Daily Signal, accessed March 21, 2016,

[5] “Venezuela’s Economic Catastrophe Isn’t About To Happen, It Has Happened,” Forbes, accessed March 21, 2016,

[6] “Venezuela’s Meltdown Continues,” Foreign Affairs, accessed March 21, 2016,

[7] Ibid.

[8] Venezuela’s Last Hope, Foreign Policy, accessed March 21, 2016,

[9] Angry White Men: A Book Review, Huffington Post, accessed March 21, 2016,

[10] James Petras and Henry Veitmeyer, What’s Left in Latin America?: Regime Change in New Times, Routledge (2016).

[11] How Bad is Venezuela’s Economic Situation?, Venezuela Analysis, accessed March 21, 2016,

[12] Basic Goods ‘Suspiciously’ Begin to Appear in Venezuela Stores, TeleSur, accessed March 21, 2016,–20151214-0018.html.

[13] “Venezuelan general strike extended,” BBC News, accessed March 21, 2016,

[14] Venezuela Coup Linked to Bush Team,” The Guardian, accessed March 22, 2016,

[15] “The CIA Was Involved In the Coup Against Venezuela’s Chavez,” Venezuela Analysis, accessed March 22, 2016,

[16] “Revolution, Counter Revolution and the Economic War in Venezuela,” Counterpunch, accessed March 21, 2016,



24 thoughts on “The Other Explanation for Venezuela’s Economic Crisis

  • March 24, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    You seem to miss the very simple facts. Chavez counted on oil money, not productivity, to drive the economy and to repay the social debt you mentioned. Pure and simple, he was using other people’s money (largely from the us purchases of oil) while turning the country into a welfare state which could not produce enough to live on, much less enough to export. On top of that, forcing people to sell for less than cost is unsustainable. Restricting dollar flow for the import of raw materials for production (for example the auto industry) is unsustainable. Taking land from productive farmers and giving it to unproductive workers is unsustainable.

    • March 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      A biased invalid set of contentions. Productivity was intended but blocked by neoliberal plutocrats who put allotted dollars into black market exchanges. As to expropriation of land, it was taken from idle latifundias and given to workers seeking to develop agriculture.

      • September 18, 2016 at 1:17 pm

        Did the neoliberal plutocrats cause the 700% hyperinflation? Did they hack the currency printers?

    • March 26, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      You’re absolutely right in that fixing prices never works as well as fixing the price of your own currency. Essentially what happens, is that, your own currency becomes worthless paper outside its own country domain. I think Chavez did this to disallow Venezuelans exporting their wealth or selling their belongings, property etc and taking it else where.
      Because if you bring ANY currency and buy anything in Venezuela, in a matter of months, you’ve lost a whopping percentage. I bought a house and in 6 months sold it to the loss of 45% of its bought dollar value. Why……… the government pretends its Bolivar is worth more then it is.
      Somewhat like the US pretending that its unemployment is 5% or less or its F-35 can fly combat. Ridiculous!
      On the other hand, before the Bolivarian Revolution there were many people who lived in jungle shanties made of corrugated metal shacks without running water or toilets.
      Experience in 1993 working in Punto Fijo and traveling in Maturin, eastern Venezuela, was the newest cars were like Cuba. 1950 thru 1970 autos were the newest. However, Cubans have their autos in much greater shape then Venezuelans did then.
      The so called plantations ran in hundreds and millions of acres or hectares with maybe 5-10% planted. While the Don-s took it easy in Caracas or Valencia.
      My experience has been while living in Venezuela that indeed Caracanos are among the world’s most racist people.
      They suffer a vituperative hatred for anything that challenges their view of themselves and country.
      They also have a hatred for their own people and are extremely abusive of anyone voicing opinions contrary to what they believe.
      However………..however…….. Venezuela has enough oil reserves to fuel the WORLD for the next 50 years ALONE! Its gold resources are the highest in the world. But its corruption and ability to lie is among the most advanced, whether poor, rich, Carcano, or ordinary Venezolano. They are among the most practiced thieves of all of South America. So………. take your salt shaker when doing business, buying or dealing with them. You’ll need a lot of salt for anything they say.

      Reason…….. my personal opinion, that a nation driving by those who lie and cheat and abuse those least able to protect themselves will also only learn to lie and exaggerate to protect themselves and look upon only as normal.
      It is of course true that this presently greatly has begun to afflict the United States besides its prone to violence and murder. BUT there was a time, when the average American did not lie and was reliable in doing business and generally made good neighbors.
      Alas, what governments can do in changing a culture.
      But despite of all Venezuela’s shortcomings, I find it better then the United States, I very, very, very well.
      Any fruit or vegetable is fresh and can be bought for a fraction what I pay in the US. I can live on less then $500 equivalent to $5000 in the US and I can save the rest in gold. Because the US dollar is going the way of the Bolivar. It will be worth a fraction of what is today if you’re not a fool and heed the signs.
      Never save in Bolivars in Venezuela and never save in Dollars in the US. If you wish to move money, use Swiss Franks and if you save use 1 OZ gold coins. Either can be exchange in 90% of the nations of earth. But only for awhile longer.
      So move your ass to where you want to be the window is closing in the US, especially after Trump becomes their President.

    • May 4, 2016 at 1:58 am

      Bob you are exactly righ! My wife is from Venezuela they know what’s going on. Everyone in the Maduro cabinet is a very rich person. So that alone says they are not a socialist government it’s an Oligarchy. Mr Bolton has not lived in Venezuela he just passes through sipping monitors as he basks in the Cartegena sun akin to Marx who was also a wealthy philosopher who never new the meaning or hard work, but claimed to be of and for the working class. Bolton not even a PH.D. Don’t try to pretend you know. The only thing socialistic about Venezuela’s government are words there is absolutely no action, that much Bolton has in common with them. Now get your masters at American University to expound on other things you have no experience with.

      • May 15, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        This is an ad hominem attack and worthless. One does not need a Ph.D. to think or be of working class origin to feel.

  • March 24, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Dear Mr. Brunner,

    We appreciate your continued interest in our pieces and the comment you made about our latest article. My response:
    You are correct that Chavez utilized the country’s sizable resource wealth, particularly oil, in order to address the historical injustice done to Venezuela’s poor majority throughout the Fourth Republic era and prior. It was, by Chavez’s own pronouncements, a pressing and immediate priority and moral duty to pay this debt over and above the other work that needed to be done to bring Venezuela out from the neoliberal era and disastrous structural readjustment periods of the 1980s and 1990s. With the world’s largest known oil reserves, Venezuela’s natural resource wealth was the most obvious and available means by which to pay this debt. Utilizing resource wealth in order to meet the need of the general public, and particularly the most needy, was a hallmark of the Chavez era for which no apology need be made. If utilizing resource wealth for profiteering by the economic elite is legitimate, then using it to improve the lives of ordinary people should not require apology, as your comment implies.

    From the earlier stage of the Bolivarian process, the government made steps to diversify the economy and boost productivity based on Chavez’s alternative economic model of endogenous development. This model has involved some degree of nationalization along with the use of national and local resources through popular cooperatives and other forms of social enterprise and in conjunction with both public corporations and private enterprises. The goal was to forge a path to a sustainable and environmentally responsible development within a democratic socialist and mixed economy framework. This effort had been off to a good start before being derailed by the 2002 coup and subsequent internal violent tactics from the opposition. Venezuela’s economy was further crippled by the 2002-2003 oil strike that led to an extremely severe recession and a 29 percent loss of GDP. Having survived both of these events, the Chavez government achieved steadier footing and the economy subsequently grew at a record pace over the next five years, with real GDP nearly doubling from the end of the oil strike (first quarter 2003) through the fourth quarter of 2008. Following collapsing oil prices and recession in the 2008-2009 period, the Venezuelan economy defied most forecasts in 2012 by growing 4.2 percent. (Source: Your characterization of Venezuela as suffering from a major deficit in productivity, therefore, simply belies the facts.

    Venezuela’s reliance on foreign imports of goods long predates Chavez and was one of the major problems that he faced upon assuming office. It is a common problem faced by natural resource rich countries since technology and capital can be highly focused on maintaining the revenue that comes from resource exportation, leading to opportunity cost in terms of it being withheld from other sectors of the economy. However, the Chavez government made significant strides to diversify the economy with the establishment of social production enterprises, which seek to boost domestic production, localize economic activity, and move toward greater national self-sufficiency while strengthening Chavez’s vision of participatory democracy.

    Your reference to “other people’s money” is typical of a particularly dogmatic strain of right-wing ideology that insists that the economic outcomes of the market are beyond moral scrutiny. Chavez was openly a socialist and attempted to govern based on his vision of 21st Century Socialism. Socialists tend to believe that the economic outcomes of the market are often inherently unjust and that recalibration of economic structure in order to provide for the many rather than make profit for the few is the proper role of the state. Likewise, building a strong welfare state that provides social protections and access to public services is a central goal of left-wing movements worldwide and has already been achieved and defended by social democratic and labor parties in Europe, and subsequently administered by parties of both the left and the right.
    Your mention of “forcing people to sell for less than cost,” that you characterize as “unsustainable,” again is based on rigid dogma and, moreover, is a misrepresentation of a legitimate and considered decision to fight usury and price gouging by the right-wing business class.

    As for land reform, this is something that has been called for by social movements across Latin America and elsewhere in the Global South. Your comment that characterizes it as taking from “productive farmers” in order to give to “unproductive workers” is ideologically-laced rhetoric that falsely implies that large landowners inherently use land more productively than the campesinos who benefit from the introduction of land reform.

    Best regards,
    Peter Bolton, Research Fellow

    • May 15, 2016 at 9:17 am

      The economic war thesis is a lie. I lived through the collapse, and it was a very slow one. Rampant corruption and the fixed exchange rate did this to Venezuela. Those reclaimed lands from “idle latifunders” were productive and now they are not. It is clear you are an educated person, which hints the real nature of this article as either a poor piece of journalism, insufficient knowledge on the subject or you just plainly got paid to write it. Here in Spain there are several paid pens such as yourself, spreading lies about the real causes while disguising themselves as “alternative media”. I lived there, and I saw everything happen. Not through a screen, but in the everyday struggle. I wish you would address, ever so objectively, the very real and well documented claims of the massive corruption and terrible policies that led to the collapse of Venezuela.

  • March 25, 2016 at 6:41 am

    It is a pleasure to read a reasoned, fact-based reply to a poster who seems to be speaking from a base of ideological assumptions that, to him, seem to need no facts to support them. Many would not have graced the comment from Mr. Brunner with a reply.
    Interesting piece, Mr. Bolton. Thank you.
    Throughout the entire Chavez period, Venezuela’s struggle to diversify it’s economy and repay the moral and economic debts incurred by decades of exploitation has been very difficult to observe from outside.
    Thanks again,
    James Miller

    • May 4, 2016 at 2:02 am

      Again, a pampered intellectual who never had a calloused hand expounds from the guilt of his easy life without any real experience of personal suffering.

  • March 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    You can say or try to explain whatever you want to justify the monumental failure of the so called ‘Chavista Revolution’ during which Venezuela has become the poorest richest country in the world. According to a well known Venezuelan economist, Francisco Faraco, the corruption levels seen in the last 17 years of the Chavez/Maduro governments is worth $350 BILLION. You seem also to agree with the chavista idea of an ‘Economic War’ (Non existent for everyone else in the country). Find out how many acres of land and how many private companies have been expropriated or how many ‘Public/government companies’ in Venezuela in the last 15 years and try find ONE, only one, that is productive. Or an acre that has been productive the same period. The Venezuelan country is probably the only one in the world where gold mines are a failure, gold mines!! The Chavista leadership can say whatever they want about what they call “The 4th Republic”, but all of them with no exception took advantage of all of what that “4th” offered them: Free education mainly a the Venezuela-s Military Academy and a good life or as good a life as they wanted it to be.
    Find out how many of the chavista present leadership IS NOT involved in corruption. You’ll find none or extremely few.
    I come from a very small town in Eastern part of Venezuela and have been living in the US for the last 20 years. And I come from a very limited means family. So please save your -ultra-rightist, Oligarchs, Pro Capitalist labels and take a truly objective view of Venezuela. Avoid using such labels and see if you can keep on justifying the most corrupt regime ever that has sadly governed my country.
    Thanks for your time.

    Leonardo Bonett

    • May 4, 2016 at 2:10 am

      Sorry these people don’t understand the worst crime in modern history is this Chavista government, or lack of government. The only work done by this Chavista government is to take the governments money and enrichment their own bank accounts. They are watching as the country and its people collapse around them. The only law enforcement is against the opposition or whomever criticize them. The US population as a rule is unaware of the extremely bad situation. It’s hard to understand something you think could never happen to you. I am praying for regime change in Venezuela and ignoring detached intellectuals from the elitist academic societies who ideological views could not change a light bulb.

  • March 26, 2016 at 11:08 am

    You use a lot of words and none of them seem to use something called “Common sense”.

    Richest country in the world. So many exploitable resources other than oil to keep the country going. Just with coffee, meat and turism Venezuela could easily be one of the best countries in Latin America. Add to that Oil and you have the best country in the world.

    Chavez goverment has control of everything. And I’m not lying. Before Chavez, each Mayor was responsible of keeping the streets, now it’s the central gov responsibility. Now there is not a single drivable street in Venezuela.

    Your so called “Independent organizations” are anything but. Citation needed. Please do tell me what organizations are you talking about, so I can easily debuk them with a simple google search.

    And even though Venezuelan economy grew (largely because of oil prices) it amounted to anything. All of the free things that Chavez gave away were taking back the moment money stopped coming from oil.

    You know what Maduro did last elections? He gave away a few houndred new taxis (Even though you can’t find a freaking Ford on any dealer) for a revolutionary taxi line. Only to take them back when he lost elections. He also said “I was thinking of building X amount of houses next year, but now I’m having second thoughts, not because I cant but because I asked for your support and you didnt give it to me”.

    And it’s not the first time this happens. Chavez used to give away White line products near elections. Houses were “finished” on record time. Hell I remember one building where they just finished the front side (And by that I mean paint it) just because there was a rally on the street closet. Surprise surprise when the gov tv channel reported the rally there was a clear view of said building (If you went around it the werent even pipes on them). And not only that, some people that already had their “free houses” given where also caught protesting, only to be kicked out of that house.

    Pf, you talk about racism and division and all of that. Thanks to Chavez those things are even bigger of a problem now.

    You cant look at Venezuela just by simple numbers. Of course it’s economy is gonna grow when 80% of its revenue comes from oil (most of it from the US… kinda hypocritical dont you think?)

    If you want I can keep on writting so that you understand what failure this Gov actually is.

    Oh btw. I’ve to leave my family 3 months ago to find away to get them out because my grandmother cant find her pills so we cant keep her there with out a real risk of her dying.


    Someone who actually lived this so called revolution and see things for what they are, not what some numbers tell you on the internet.

  • March 27, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I appreciated the well balanced perspective from “the other” side and while i disagree with you i always enjoy another perspective. I
    think that everyone loses sight of why the governing principles that are mentioned tend to fail. Socialism seems a perfect system to repair inequalities that a large part of the world experiences on paper but in order for it to work as intended people must work together for the “greater good” which goes against human nature. We are self centered selfish creatures, if someone gives us anything free and unconditionally we tend to take as much of it as we can. You know this to be true or the Venezuelan public wouldnt be having the electricity crisis, there is NO incentive to cut usage. Bottom line is even with all its faults, capitalism works better because it works with instead of against our selfish human nature.

  • March 28, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Too funny. It’s not socialism, it’s not capitalism, it’s not defacto-dictatorship, it’s simply ineptness at the highest levels. Seriously, every successful implementation of ANY type of government has 3 commonalities….and money is NOT among them. Every government that can manage to keep people 1) SAFE, 2) Fed, 3) Sheltered, will do WONDERFULLY no matter whether it’s under an “economic war” or just has delirious leaders. When a party has complete control over 15 years of the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch and all their hard work comes down to 2000 murders a month, the highest levels of their government involved in narco trafficking and money laundering (not Maduro’s nephews fingering Cabello as the owner of the cocaine they sold to the US DEA, not the bribery ADMITTED to by those getting contracts from PDVSA, it’s that the nephews were on DIPLOMATIC passports without holding a government position and the money laundering admitted by the people that pled guilty to the bribery. So, sure, it’s easier to blame the issues on the evil Satan than to admit, “Yeah, I’m stupid and can’t run my country.” I get that. The problem is that you have done NOTHING over those 15 years to address this “economic war” like refusing to sell YOUR OWN FREAKIN oil to the US and/or recently, BUYING oil from the US. The US IS and economic powerhouse, but its not something that can’t be worked around with China and Russia as your friends. Well, that is if your country’s leadership isn’t just totally inept. Again, anytime a government has control over all branches for 15 years and murder rate go from 8/100,000 in 1990 to 126/100,000 over that same span, it’s not an outside problem.

    • March 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

      In total agreement. And no need to use labels like oligarchs, capitalists and all that BS to justify the disaster of a country that Venezuela is right now!! They, the Chavistas, are the only ones to blame. Period!!

  • April 25, 2016 at 9:29 am

    So the Chavistas are using evidence that businesses are behaving exactly how free market economic theory says they will under the government’s inflationary and price control policies as evidence that it is simply a conspiracy against the government. Communist and socialist dictators always blame sabotage for the failures of their policies, and there is a superficial plausibility to their accusations, especially from their own perspective and to the economically ignorant. Both theories predict the same kinds of behaviors from businessmen.

    When the government floods the economy with new money, prices will rise. If the government imposes price controls to try to control the inflation, the cost of production for the businesses will continue to rise, but their sales price will be held down, so producers will have no incentive to sell anything. But the Chavista’s theory is that they aren’t selling because the businessmen don’t like the Chavistas. Which one is a real economic theory based on a real understanding of how human beings and businessmen work, and which more resembles a paranoid conspiracy theory?

    • April 25, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Excellent explanation!!

  • June 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Yes. There is also a lively debate between two competing narratives about Climate Change, one of which is backed by virtually every single actual expert on the subject and another of which is peddled by a collection of cranks and obsessives with a direct political state in pushing a narrative rejected by everyone who’s looked at the issue closely and who haven’t grasped the basics of the science and plainly haven’t the first shard of a clue what they’re talking about.

    Let’s give them equal time!!


  • June 15, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    The thing that stuns me is how these super-complicated conspiracies by the elite to cause economic havoc only ever seem to have any success in countries where the fiscal framework is out of control, where the central bank monetizes deficits and where price controls are set at unrealistic levels.

    It really is a hell of a coincidence. Bolivian capitalists can’t seem to organize themselves into a proper conspiracy. Nor Ecuadorian nor Nicaraguan ones. Nope. It’s almost as though only where the macroeconomic policy framework is a total disaster the conspiracies manage to succeed.

    Total coincidence, I’m sure.

  • June 20, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    While I found this “alternative” explanation interesting and worthy of my time, in the end I reject it because it’s premises are based on conspiracies that I find to be pretty implausible. It was actually the last point of the article about US mainstream media being biased because of corporate ownership that swayed me the most against this article. I would be defined as a “liberal” in the US, but I believe the media represents all points of view. Absolute power corrupts, when you shut down any opposition in TV or the press, you are admitting you are corrupt.

  • September 5, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Yes, somehow the opposition has hacked the currency printer, causing 700% inflation. But why would they leave that printer connected to the internet?

  • July 4, 2017 at 4:58 am

    It's quite an astounding point of view! There are a lot of reasons for the crisis in Venezuela economics and this might be one of that!

  • July 14, 2017 at 3:49 am

    buen Articulo sin duda, lleno de buena información, Se agradece este aporte muy Util para los que seguimos vuestro Sitio, !Muchas Gracias 🙂


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