James Bloodworth

Venezuela: a shining example of how not to help the poor

No serious person today views the Cuban Revolution as anything other than an impoverished tyranny – up to and including the leaders of that Revolution, who have been hastily turning toward capitalism since learning in 2009 that the island was on the brink of insolvency.

It remains much easier to find useful idiots willing to defend Venezuela’s so-called ‘Bolivarian revolution’, however, which until recently was supposed to promise something better than its ossified Caribbean neighbour.

Not for much longer, perhaps; for Venezuela is on the brink of a social explosion after 15 years of economic incompetence by Islington’s favourite petrocrat.

It was reported this week that, absurdly, the most oil rich country in the world is facing food shortages. Inflation is also running at a whopping 54 per cent although many observers suspect the real rate is much higher. It isn’t so much a case of asking the last person leaving Venezuela to turn out the lights because the lights are already out. Despite being awash with oil, the country is beset by crippling blackouts due to a lack of investment in infrastructure.

In other words, Venezuela today is bit like Cuba, but with more Western cheerleaders.

Anyone who wants to know is already aware of the Venezuelan government’s human rights abuses. For apologists these were either dismissed as bourgeois propaganda or relativised because ‘George Bush was a pretty bad guy too’. What’s telling is that even on its own terms the revolution is a crushing failure. Rather than being a beacon of a better world, Venezuela sits as a shining example of how not to help the poor.

As apologists are so fond of pointing out, between 2007 and 2011 there was a reduction in poverty in Venezuela by some 38 per cent.

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