Sunday, 26 August 2018

Why Chavez Is Not To Blame For Venezuelan Crisis

Much about Venezuela in the news recently and although President Maduro is rightly getting the blame, the previous President Hugo Chavez is also starting to get some of the fallout although the right wing have always been chomping at the bit to hit out at him mainly because he and his socialist policies were such an overwhelming success.
That may sound strange considering the mess Venezuela finds itself in today but a quick glance at what and why Chavez did what he did should show that only the willfully ignorant or ignorantly blind would make such a claim.
In 1998, the majority of Venezuelans lived below the poverty line and after Chavez won the Presidential election he made it a priority to lance this particularly unpleasant boil.
With a barrel of oil trading at $100, he nationalised the country's oil reserves and used the extra revenue to finance social and development programmes, begin literacy campaigns, build free medical centres and hospitals, constructed schools in the poorest neighbourhoods and subsidised supermarkets to reduce the cost of food.
He trained tens of thousands of more doctors, initiated millions of free school meals and started free adult literacy classes.
As promised when he took office, he halved poverty and set about solving the problems of the most vulnerable in Society, namely the poor and sick with malnutrition related deaths falling by 50% during the Chavez Presidency.
When he died in 2013, he had brought hope to millions of those who, without him, would have had nothing but more of the grinding poverty and despair of the previous Governments.
That's Chavez but what he had was oil being sold at $100 a barrel, what Maduro has inherited is oil being sold at $40 a barrel and that's where the problem lays today.
While Chavez used the oil boom dollars to run the country and import the essentials, in 2014 the oil prices crashed and Venezuela’s economy crashed with it creating huge shortages of basic items which they imported, including food and medicine, which has pushed up inflation to eye watering levels.
Where Maduro can be blamed is for his reaction to the demonstrations, cracking down with authoritarian tactics and imprisoning his political rivals while postponing elections.
Chavez took over a basket case of a country and for 14 years used the oil money which was otherwise going into oil contractors bank accounts to fundamentally improve things for his countrymen, Maduro had the misfortune to take over just as the economy tanked due to the drop in the price of oil.
That how he responded made things worse is what you can firmly hit him over the head with but to blame Hugo Chavez for making things better is a non-starter and awful right-wing journalism at its laziest.

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