I would like to start by saying that my examination of the situation in Venezuela is based on facts and a long-lasting live connection on the pulse of the country. As a dual US/French citizen married to a beautiful Venezuelan lady, father of the sweetest Venezuelan little girl, I am in continued communication with family members and business partners to try to apprehend objectively what is taking place.
Today’s reality is that the Venezuelan people are in the streets of Venezuela, fighting for their survival and the future of their kids, and it appears that international medias are not paying much attention. I urge you to read it, proportion it, and take action any way you can to help Venezuelans take their country from darkness toward a bright future.
Venezuela, home to 30 million people, is one of the most enchanting countries in the world. Its people are warm, and caring. Its geography is different and often breathtaking. Its history is high and fascinating. Its natural resources are substantial; petroleum, natural gas, iron, gold and minerals. It also has large areas of arable land and water. If you add the fact that Venezuela is a neighbor of the world’s largest economy, the United States, the Venezuelan People should be enjoying the benefits and vibrant economy, a safe and obtain ecosystem, and a bright future for their kids.
So what happened?
“The overwhelming presence of oil did act, indirectly, to deform the economy and national life. Privilege sectors of the population began to acquire the mining mentality of newly high spendthrifts. The uninterrupted flow of dollars promoted imports and expanded commerce to such a degree that the nation became chiefly a consumer of foreign products. We began to appear too much like that disorganized California-the paradise of adventurers and thieves-during the days of the gold rush.”
Romulo Betancourt, Former President of Venezuela 1945-1948, 1959-1964.
It is safe to say that oil wealth, some call it the “oil curse” has crippled Venezuela and turned it into an unproductive and corrupted society, with screaming inequalities, leading to extremism and the arrival of Hugo Chavez in 1999.
Chavez came to strength on the assumption that he would shatter Venezuela’s peaceful but unacceptable coexistence of wealth, poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. He gave a voice to the poorest and had an innate ability to make them feel that he was one of them. He also used his personal appeal, backed by generous aid spending, to build an “anti-empire” designed to counter the US in its crusade for free trade, already though his strength resided on the oil revenues and refineries from the United States.
What Chavez produced in Venezuela is a benevolent dictatorship; a form of government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political strength over the state by elected representatives, maintaining just enough democratic decision-making to exist & continue the illusion of “democracy.” A political genius & charming manipulator, he succeeded in changing the constitution, taking control of all branches of government, and controlling all medias.
Chavez died earlier this year, but during his 14 years in strength, he crippled the economy, squandering the proceeds of the largest oil expansion since the 1970s, and managed to steadily spread oil production by nationalizing PDVSA, an oil company owned by the state, appointing executives & managers based on their political convictions instead of their skill.
Once diagnosed with a deadly cancer, Chavez handpicked a successor, Nicolas Maduro, a driver for the Caracas subway, union activist, then minister, whose only qualification for the job, was to be a “Chavista” from the early days. Maduro took over the Presidency earlier this year in a rigged election. Sadly for Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro is not only a “fraud,” he is clearly incompetent, unable to rule the country toward a better future, taking it toward economic & social implosion.
The consequence of the “Chavista” dramatical change is that Venezuela is now top in the ranking of violence worldwide. In 2013, 24,763 violent deaths were recorded, smashing a record of 79 killings in every 100,000 inhabitants. In Caracas alone, one murder takes place every hour, making it, the most dangerous Capital in the planet. In addition, Venezuela has one of the world’s largest fiscal deficits, highest inflation rates, worst misalignment of the exchange rate, fastest-growing debt, and one of the most precipitous drops in productive capacity; including that of the basic oil sector.
During the Chavez era the nation also fell to the bottom of the rankings that measure international competitiveness, ease of doing business, or attractiveness to foreign investors, and raised to the top of the list of the world’s most corrupt countries; quite a paradox for a leader whose rise to strength rested on the potential to stamp out corruption and grind the oligarchy. The Bolivarian bourgeoisie; the boliburgueses, as Venezuelans call the new oligarchy, formed by close allies of the regime’s leaders, their families, and friends, have amassed enormous wealth by corrupt deals with the government. This, too, is part of the unfortunate legacy Chavez has left.
Last, but not least, during his 14 years reign, Chavez relentlessly attempted to align Venezuela with Cuba, both politically and economically. It is now clear that he succeeded as Venezuela is currently facing multiple shortages including food, electricity and already basic needs, such as toilet paper.
The silent majority has had enough. People are experiencing in their daily lives. Hope of a better future is disappearing, and the last election proved to the majority that the democratic course of action is now just an illusion. Every day, people are taking action; mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, students and teachers, small business owners, already elderly people are in the street risking their lives as I am writing these lines.
People are dying, tortured, abused and already raped by the National Guard (GNB). The attack on freedom of speech and Social Media is total. Twitter announced this week that “the Venezuelan government is blocking images on its website, the latest sign of a crackdown after violent protests that killed at the minimum three people in the past week.” Maduro also accused mainstream media outlets of creating confusion. He took Colombian stop NTN24 off the air and in a national address yesterday criticized Agence France Presse for “manipulating information.”
World governments are comparatively quiet, analyzing the situation, gathering data and trying to define a course of action. World medias are inexplicably not covering the events the way they should. It is up to us, the people, lovers of the democratic course of action, individual freedom and human rights to take action the only we can; that is communicating, sharing information and making sure that the truth is out.
This article is a small piece in the ocean of information and misinformation that is circulating, but I urge you to look for yourself, search for the truth and help the kids of Venezuela have the future that they deserve.