February 1, 2019 By TheNewYorkNews
The agony of Venezuela’s impoverished people
The agony of Venezuela is great.
Something like 4 million people have fled the country of Venezuela. They are fleeing crime, poverty, and outright starvation. People have died falling from trees, having climbed them to try to pick fruit. They have died after eating roots and weeds that turned out to be poisonous.
Chávez, chavismo, and populism.
Is there a “good populism,” as many insist? Well, there is certainly better and worse populism. Chávez was a master, at his kind of politics. He entertained the crowd, in person, on television, and on the radio. He perpetually stoked grievances. He was a victim, you see, and you were a victim, and, together, you would fight your victimizers: the elites, the fancy people, who looked down on you.
This is an extremely effective, and slippery, and dangerous type of politics.
In recent memory, Venezuela was a model of democracy and prosperity in South America. The country is still rich in natural reserves. It is No. 1 in all the world in oil. (Yes, even ahead of Saudi Arabia.) It is No. 6 in gas. It is No. 10 in water. Yet Venezuelans, in their everyday lives, lack all of those things.
Antonio Ledezma says that Chávez came to power under the “camouflage” of democracy. He was elected fair and square (the first time). Then he proceeded to dismantle democracy, as they do — as populists and strongmen like him do all over.
Hugo Chávez, a tragically gifted demagogue, started this regime in 1999. After he died in 2013, Nicolás Maduro continued it. Chavista Venezuela is a narco-tyranny, tied to Communist Cuba.
Hugo Chávez had “the magic of seduction,” Ledezma told me. “He played the role of a poor man exploited by the gringos, by the Americans, giving speeches that were full of self-pity and promising that the state would be more paternalistic than ever.”
We are a rich country, Chávez would say, so why should anyone ever want for anything? (Soon, Venezuelans would be wanting for everything.)
Danger to the chavistas came when the military, along with the rest of Venezuela, started to go hungry. As the exiled mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, remarked to our Jay Nordlinger, “there is nothing more subversive in a military than hunger.”
Source: National Review
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