Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 6:05 AM

Venezuela Finally Awakens from Chavismo Dream

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

According to the February 13, 2014, edition of Business Insider, Venezuela sits on the world’s third largest energy reserves – valued at $34.9 trillion. This includes 297.6 billion barrels of oil – the most of any oil-producing country.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.55.47 AMTherefore, it speaks volumes that 25 percent of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. Even those who live above it are plagued by chronic food shortages and electricity blackouts.

Of course, we’ve seen this oxymoronic state of affairs before. After all, Africa is littered with countries rich in natural resources but mired in poverty.

In any event, this excerpt – from “Chávez’s Chavismo: More Robbing Hoodlum than Robin Hood,” August 12, 2015 – gives an overview of the primrose path Venezuela took to arrive at this political and economic purgatory.

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My socialist affinities are such that I used to be a big fan of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez… However, it did not take long before I began denouncing him as just another tin-pot dictator betraying the very socialist causes he championed – as such commentaries as “Bolivia’s Woes Expose Chávez’s Socialist Counter-Revolution as Little more than One-Man Three Ring Circus,” September 7, 2006, attest…

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.57.24 AMIt was hardly surprising that poor Venezuelans were protesting against chronic privation within a year of his death in March 2013…

Few Venezuelans appreciated that Chávez was a bigger crook than any drug lord who ever menaced Latin America. Yet he earned his rightful place in the rogue’s gallery of dead kleptomaniacs, which includes everyone from Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier of Haiti to Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire/DR Congo and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Crime bosses like Al Capone and drug lords like Pablo Escobar had nothing on political dictators like these…

His family and cronies have nothing to fear, so long as the man to whom he bequeathed the presidency, his crony in chief Nicolás Maduro, remains in office. But all bets are off, with respect to their ill-gotten fortunes and even their freedom, the minute any opposition leader assumes power.

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Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.58.39 AMWell folks, Venezuela just took a giant leap towards political and economic salvation. For the stunning results of Sunday’s legislative elections testify to the fact that it’s beginning to expiate the sins of Chavismo.

Venezuela’s opposition party has claimed the majority of seats in the National Assembly in elections held Sunday, the first major shift in power in the legislative branch since the late President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999…

This is the first time in 17 years that Chavismo has not won a nationwide election in Venezuela…

President Nicolas Maduro took to the airwaves and announced that he accepted the loss of his majority, but pledged not to give up on the mission of deceased Hugo Chávez to create a socialist state.

(CNN, December 7, 2015)

Ominously, for President Maduro, there’s this:

The victory hands the [opposition] MUD a ‘simple majority’ in the National Assembly, but this could change to a ‘qualified majority’ depending on the outcome of the remaining 22 seats.

If the MUD goes on to win 100 seats it will be able to remove ministers from the presidential cabinet. If it manages to gain more than 111 seats, the coalition would wield enough power in the legislative body to dismiss Supreme Court Judges, reform the constitution and require a recall referendum of the national executive without having to collect the minimum quota of signatures required by the country’s constitution.

(Caribbean News Now, December 8, 2015)

Accordingly, I urge Maduro to negotiate blanket immunity (for himself and his family) in exchange for his immediate resignation. Because, as indicated above, all bets are truly off if he waits to lose the next presidential election – a result that now seems inevitable. He should let Chávez’s family and cronies suffer come what may.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.55.14 AMThat said, I feel obliged to note what Sunday’s legislative results portend for PetroCaribe. This, of course, is the scheme Chávez and Maduro devised to use Venezuelan oil to buy political favors throughout the Americas … at the expense of the Venezuelan people.

Unsurprisingly, opposition leaders have long pledged – as an article of political faith – to end it. Not to mention that the fateful decline in oil revenues (from plummeting oil prices) exposed the vaingloriousness of this scheme long ago.

More to the point, I saw PetroCaribe for the unsustainable diplomatic ploy it was from the outset – as this excerpt from “PetroCaribe: Let’s Look this Gift Horse in the Mouth,” June 30, 2006, attests.

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PetroCaribe promises to ‘…contribute to the energy security, socioeconomic development and integration of the Caribbean countries, through the sovereign use of the energy resources.’

I am loath to suggest that Chávez is selling snake, not crude, oil. But I have grave misgivings – not only about the viability of PetroCaribe as an alternative to the FTAA, but also about its potential as a reliable source of ‘discounted’ energy for Caribbean countries.

Anyone who bothers to read the fine print will see that it’s less about regional energy and more about regional politics.  And, I fear, Caribbean citizens who expect PetroCaribe to deliver a steady supply of cheap fuel are bound to be disappointed.

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chart6-1In effect, Chávez induced Caribbean leaders to stake the sustainable development of their respective countries on him ruling Venezuela and oil remaining above $100 per barrel … forever. And those suckers bought it.

Now he’s dead and oil is $37.51….

What’s more, punctuating the penny-wise, pound-foolish nature of their gamble, there’s this:

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that the U.S. might be able to provide some ‘resources’ to the 17 countries that would be affected by the disappearance of the program, known as Petrocaribe, which began under the late President Hugo Chávez.

But providing oil would be unlikely, forcing the countries that receive the subsidized petroleum from Venezuela now to find their supplies at world prices.

(Miami Herald, December 9, 2015)

Yeah, good luck with that!

In the meantime, I hope Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, and Suriname will forgive me for saying, I told you so.

Related commentaries:
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