Reports over the economic disaster in #Venezuela have been intensely one-sided. For instance, Matt O’Brien, writing for the Washington Post, reported this past January that, “The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.” Forbes writer Ivona Iacob shared a very similar perspective as O’Brien, as she reported, “The country’s emphasis on oil exports, price controls and a heavily-controlled economy are all features found in other current and former socialist countries–features that have contributed to the demise of whole economies, or brought them close to it.” Iacob and O’Brien, as well as the vast majority of American writers, all share the same intuitions: Socialism bad and Democracy, the kind that enables neoliberal capitalism to run rapid, good.
The conventional narrative explains Venezuela’s current state as the result of economic mismanagement and failed socialist policies spearheaded by former president Hugo Chávez and his handpicked successor, and current president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. However, what many in the English press fail to acknowledge, and in many cases misrepresent, are the intricacies of the problems and history of Venezuela’s economy.
History of Venezuela's economy
Before Chávez was elected President in 1998, the economic levers of society were almost wholly in the hands of the social elite. The main platform of Chavismo was to more evenly distribute the wealth in Venezuela to serve the interest of the public rather than protecting the private profit of few. According to The Guardian Data Blog published October 4, 2012, Chávez did just that. During his 14 years in office, unemployment dropped from 14.5% in 1999 to 7.6% in 2009, GDP per capita rose from $4,105 in 1999 to $10,801 in 2011, and more impressively people living in extreme poverty was cut by nearly two-thirds from 23.4% in 1999 to 8.5% in 2011.
Notwithstanding that there are no legitimate problems with Chavismo. However, far less of what the opposition claims should be taken with any serious consideration.
Internal and external foes
In almost every account over Venezuela economy, readers will learn how, “families can wait in lines at the supermarket for 18 hours at a time...", from ABC News, or that, “There’s an hours-long wait to enter the supermarkets. Shelves are empty... ”, from Fox News Latino. What readers will not be informed of are the efforts of oppositional groups intentionally creating scarcities in the hopes of causing civil unrest. For instance, social media commentators indicated that staple goods began to reappear, after 2015 elections, on shelves throughout the country. Tellingly, some of the products had expiration dates that suggested that the problem was not with production but rather with distribution, which is largely controlled by the right-wing business elite.
Not to forget the Bush administration-backed, CIA aided, coup in 2002 that almost forced Chávez out of office, the refusals of the U.S. to recognize Chavista electoral victories as Democratic, to sanctions from President Obama in 2015 as he declared, “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy ... ”, I think it is fair to assume the U.S have largely been opposed of Chavismo since day one.
Perhaps, here lies the reason why the overwhelming majority of the English press, owned mostly by large corporations with outside interest, tend to misrepresent and skew the reality of Venezuela’s current economic disaster. Perhaps, these large corporations find it in their best interest let’s say, for example, to garner public support for American intervention in hopes of establishing a government that would exploit the working and middle class (like the 1980’s and 90’s) to line the profits of the private sector.
However, the fact of the matter is simple. Readers in the English press, U.S mainstream media, are being fed a very one-sided, narrow debate. #United States of America #Manufacturing Consent