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Venezuela Is in Crisis. So How Did Maduro Secure a Second Term? (nytimes.com)
23 points by artur_makly 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments



I know it gets lots of accolades already, but "Why Nations Fail" can really help understand why these sorts of things happen.

A lot of people want to look at Venezuela as a place that used to be a progressive country with a strong welfare state, and now it's a broke regime. But it's easier to understand that they never were a progressive country - they never actually had a pluralistic division of power. For a solid decade they could divvy out the benefits of a high oil price. But when times got tough, citizens were not actually given a lot of rights or individual liberties.

To butcher a quote by Friedman (so take it with as many grain of salt as you want), "Countries that put equality before freedom often end up without much of either."


> A lot of people want to look at Venezuela as a place that used to be a progressive country with a strong welfare state, and now it's a broke regime. But it's easier to understand that they never were a progressive country

Don't you mean they never were a true scotsman?


It's not enough to just point out a possible fallacy. What's your contention as to why the statement "Venezuela was never actually a progressive country" is inaccurate?

The parent comment asserts 1) that progressive countries must have a pluralistic division of power, 2) that Venezuela didn't, 3) therefore, Venezuela was not actually a progressive country, even if it appears to be.

Which of those assertions are you challenging?


> It's not enough to just point out a possible fallacy. What's your contention as to why the statement "Venezuela was never actually a progressive country" is inaccurate?

My contention is that the original argument is absurd and is just a blatant attempt to whitewash yet another humanitarian disaster caused by a socialist dictatorship.

Any argument on how Chavez/Maduro's dictatorship is not a true scotsman/socialist regime is entirely irrelevant as the dictator of Venezuela, who is also the president of Venezuela's Socialist Party, is very open to any of the many socialist reforms and revolutions that he himself announces repeatedly in his struggle to advance socialism in Venezuela.

And faced with all those indisputable facts, you're trying to argue whether he is a true scotsman.


> Any argument on how Chavez/Maduro's dictatorship is not a true scotsman/socialist regime is entirely irrelevant as the dictator of Venezuela, who is also the president of Venezuela's Socialist Party, is very open to any of the many socialist reforms and revolutions that he himself announces repeatedly in his struggle to advance socialism in Venezuela.

I'm not sure I follow this sentence at all. Yes, Chavez calls himself a socialist and has in the past advocated socialist programs (though not so much currently). That doesn't have any effect on whether Venezuela is actually a "progressive country," "progressive" and "socialist" not being synonymous terms. And, again, you ignore the grandparent's contention that in order for a country to truly be considered progressive, it has to have features Venezuela doesn't have. It does matter, because that's the core of the original post's argument as I understand it.

That is, Venezuela might be somewhat socialist insofar as it has - or has had in the past - some socialist policies, but representing it as an example of a socialist country is incorrect in the same way that representing the US as a socialist country because we have Medicare is inaccurate. (I'd define "socialist" countries which are also "progressive" as being places like Canada, the UK, Norway, France, Japan etc.)

> My contention is that the original argument is absurd and is just a blatant attempt to whitewash yet another humanitarian disaster caused by a socialist dictatorship.

What's being whitewashed? Nobody is arguing that Venezuela is not a dictatorship, or that there is no disaster going on. What I'm arguing is that categorizing a country as something just because the leaders of that country would like us to do so doesn't make much sense. Venezuela appeared progressive, and it had many actual socialist policies (again, non-synonymous terms), but most of those policies backslid and whatever it appeared as or wants to be considered now, we can all see it for what it is.

It's not "no true scotsman" to point out that something actually doesn't meet the criteria of a certain definition.


I see a lot of ignorant comments here placing the blame solely on the US (despite the fact that sanctions didn't take place until 2015 and things were already really bad considering Chavez died in 2013 and Maduro is still struggling to get a grip on the country since then.

I visited Venezuela and my wife is from there and the truth is that the country relied on Oil to create a wonderful society where the was incredible poverty and excess wealth with many people in the Urban areas being "alright" in the middle but unaware of the plight that many people suffered. Chavez was a charismatic former military man that had already failed to perform a coup when he rose to power. He appealed to the poor and the soldiers unlike the ruling government and used this to rise to the top. Afterwards he just played his cards right making sure the poor and the military got their (tiny) share while he and his cronies became millionaires. The complete devastation of the economy lies squarely in the fact that they ran their national oil company to the ground and have nothing of value since every wealthy business owner fled or shut down during the last decade.

The fact that Maduro is still in power is a complete mystery to me but I am guessing he is still greasing the right palms but another Coup is coming soon, I can only hope that things improve


For the past week, a Venezuelan house painter has been working at my house. He immigrated to the U.S. 3 years ago. He was a police officer that refused to do the governments bidding, so he fled. As did ~500/700 that were in his police academy.

We just spent the past 2 hours talking about the past and present situations in his home country. I'm beside my self and ashamed that I've been so ignorant to what has been happening.

I don't even know what to say here or even where to begin.


Corruption and totalitarian brutality. From China to Venezuela, it keeps dictators in power.


Especially in Venezuela where China and Russia help maintain that corruption and brutality.


This is what scares me. Venezuela was doing "alright" (relatively of course, their economy was too dependent on oil) but chose a path of totalitarianism / Chávez's without apparent fraud ... some people chose this path. And no matter how much deeper a hole they dig, the folks in power manage to dig deeper... still supported by a good chunk of people.


> Venezuela was doing "alright" (relatively of course, their economy was too dependent on oil)

That bit about oil is a pretty significant caveat. Economists have spent many decades studying concepts like the "resource curse" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse) -- the way that countries whose prosperity is disproportionately driven by the sale of natural resources (like, say, oil) tend to end up mired in poverty and autocracy -- and "Dutch disease" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_disease) -- the way that a booming resource-extraction sector tends to crowd out development of other economic sectors, like manufacturing and services. The Venezuelan economy under Chávez was virtually a case study on these ideas, as he rebuilt the entire economy on top of an upward surge in oil prices. When those prices collapsed, the whole system came down with it.


Why people vote for dodgy leaders is a big question these days.


Why people vote for dodgy leaders the first time is a big question. But it's not the question the article is talking about.

Dodgy leaders, once in power, have ways of making it very hard for people to vote for anyone else the second time. If you arrest enough opposition leaders, and own the papers and TV, and control the vote counters, you can make it very difficult for anyone else to win the election.

I'm pretty sure Maduro is going to run Venezuela until the military decides that he has to go. And Maduro probably knows this - he certainly takes care to make sure that the military doesn't go hungry...


In this case, not really:

1) economy destroyed to the point of famines. They promised food if they won the election and blocking of everything if they lost.

2) they attacked (including with machine guns) the opposition. Tortured opposition candidates. Forced others out of the country, ...

3) They attacked voters at polling stations.

4) They attacked the parliament, a number of parlementarians, and several judges, before, during and after counting the ballots.

I mean it's no mystery how these people got "elected": they didn't.

Nothing shows socialism like these people do: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jan/26/chavez-daughte...


>Nothing shows socialism like these people do:

Are you suggesting there's never been a non-socialist dictatorship?


Obviously, he's not suggesting that.

The idea is that fascism and socialism are both dependent on a common thread, the elevation of group/collective/state identity over the identity and values of the individual.

Socialism tends to play into a groups (arbitrarily defined, but generally based on wealth, class) with often legitimate grievances, but degenerates into attacks on groups based on envy.......... The Ukrainian experience under the Soviet farm collectivization is an excellent example of this. A great book, by a Russian WW2 veteran who was sent to the gulags by Stalin called "Gulag Archipelago" is a phenomenal insight into this pathology.

Fascist regimes tend to lean towards elevation of a collective ethnic/religious identity over other groups within a nation or other nations which turns the government into an all powerful protector and destroyer of the "other"..

Once the individual is subjugated to the collective in these types of nations, the logical conclusion is that any individual protesting the state is a nuisance to be eliminated, and a traitor to the dominant collective group.


I think the poster above you is referring specifically to the self-proclaimed 21st century socialists in Venezuela (and family).


I'm pretty sure the OP pointed out that Venezuela is yet another example where socialism originated yet another totalitarian regime that assassinates the opposition and keeps the people starving.


I would print "vote" in quotation marks. It was not a free election at all. Opposition was stifled by jailing them (as well as members of the judiciary), and other means, and people were enticed to vote for his party by way of benefits.

What's more interesting than this actually fraudulent election is the attendance of fellow socialists like Evo Morales as well the new socialist president of Mexico. Obviously they believe in his cause when they lend it legitimacy by attending the ceremony.


> Opposition was stifled by jailing them

And not to mention the assassinations.


Basically he replaced the old congress with a puppet congress, gained control of the military, then cheated his way to it.


[flagged]


The USA put sanctions on us and funds the opposition. Guess we better suspend all civil liberties and throw our country into poverty via mismanagement and corruption.

How is it the US's fault that they hand over expropriated industries to cronies, that Maduro's family are drug smugglers, that one of his top ministers is a Ba'athist, that Chavez's daughter is one of the richest people in a starving country, that opposition leaders are in prison, etc etc etc


> that opposition leaders are in prison

Like Lula in Brazil? Trump and the US are celebrating Bolsanaro.

Lula is lucky, the opposition leaders have been murdered in Honduras, where the US helped overthrow elections.

I'm happy the US is committed to human rights - except in Guantanamo Bay, or its allies chopping up reporters in foreign embassies, prior to the press vilification program against said reporter.


> Like Lula in Brazil?

The major corruption scandal where Lula himself was the criminal ring's figurehead and the fact that a PT militant tried to assassinate Bolsonaro during the presidential race, not to mention the overt position of PT's sockpuppet candidate of freeing the corruption gang's figureheads from prison with presidential pardons, played an important role in Brazil electing Bolsonaro in free and democratic election that is disputed by no one.




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