FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Venezuela Agonisties

It is truly heartbreaking to  watch what is occurring in Venezuela. After the calamity has swept through, the history of events will be explained by a narrative that mostly will be wrong. All kinds of things will be blamed: socialism, communism, capitalism, Chavezism, and a host of other misdiagnoses. The combination of actual causes will be outlined below.

A personal look back in time is helpful. My father, mother, brother and I moved to Caracas in the fall of 1961. Excitement was in the air. It was a very invigorating time in the capital city. Located at 3200 feet above sea level, bordered by spectacular 8500 feet mountains, the climate was and is nearly the land of perpetual spring.  During the 1950’s a gigantic burst of world class architecture had blossomed in the city, spearheaded by a diverse collection of European designers. Wide boulevards, traffic circles and monuments were pervasive, bearing romantic and inspiring names: Sabana Grande, Avenidas Francisco Miranda, Urdaneta, Andres Bello, Libertador, and El Silencio.

Despite the enormity of the gut wrenching barrios, you felt that this was a country that had a real chance, like an Argentina starting all over. The last dictator, Jimenez,  had been deposed in 1958. In 1963 despite his imperfections, Romulo Betancourt, founder of Accion Democratica party, had become Venezuela’s first ever elected President, and for many became an almost mythical champion of change and hope. Optimism was palpable.  Living for expats was easy. The city oozed European charm and world class cosmopolitan flair.

I arrived in Venezula as a seventen year old, about as wide eyed and uniformed as could be imagined. I was truly overwelmed by the gradeur of the city, its energy, its people, its setting and its glamour.  Flower sellers and flower stalls, some a half a block long, seemed everywere. I doubt they are still there. On foot, by car and by taxi, I roamed every nook, cranny and section of the long diverse Caracas valley and foothill towns, never worrying about my personal safety.

Due to various factors, for such a young person, I got a pretty good look at the workings of the society beyond the physical surface. Dumb, naive, and frankly as uninterested as I was, I saw and felt things that I now recognize in retrospect were very disturbing. A lethal combination of factors has brought Venezuela to its present state, and I witnessed first hand all of those elements 55 years ago.

Among the factors is corruption, good old fashioned corruption that has nothing to do with politics or “isms”. Corruption exits in all socieites at all times; it becomes a question of degree, however. In Latin America, corruption has existed in extreme form since the beginning. The chief problem with corruption is that itcreates inefficiency in societal functioning. Things and systems don’t work well when they are corrupt. It’s that simple and that complicated. It colors everything. Once embedded, corruption takes a long, long time to eradicate.

Another factor does spring from politics. The ‘Haves’ in societies don’t really want to share much with the “Have Nots”. It understandable. It will probably always be that way. At times however, certain leavening societal institutions incubate, creating forces that militate toward spreading some wealth and income to the middle and lower economic groups. This waxes and wanes.  In Venezuela, these instituions, lacking historical gravitas and never strong to begin with, were strangled before reaching critical mass. Consider Evo Morales in Bolivia today, where his relative middle way is detested by the world power structure.

A final factor discussed here is the role of the United States. Even all those many years ago, as a young man I heard frequent if not constant chatter on the streets and in the salons about the  massive interference and influence of a certain agency of the United States. It is important to understand that Venezuela is a true treasure trove of riches: minerals, hydrocarbons, timber, and soil. It also poseses what is becoming much more scarce – water, agricultural abundance and even clean air. Its geographical position at the top of South America is ideal and potentially strategic. With the United States seeking regime change in virtually every country of the world, Venezuela is a plum far too juicy to resist.

The interplay of these factors, along with others, suggests a rough road ahead for Venezuela, barring unexpected reversal or mitigation of these forces.

More articles by:
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
Christopher Brauchli
The Defenestration of Scott Pruitt
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail