Saturday, January 9, 2010

Socialism Chavez Style: Devalue the Currency Cripple the People Steal the Farms

Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, announced the devaluation of the country's currency, the bolivar, by half, and just as bad news from the Obama administration is announced on weekends or late on Friday, Chavez delivered the startling proclamation during an important Friday night baseball game. Here is a good example of Socialism once it is on a roll:

The socialist Chavez believes the state should have a weighty role in managing the economy. During his 11 years in office he has nationalized most heavy industry, and business and finance are tightly regulated.

The devaluation is politically risky but means every dollar of oil revenue puts more bolivars in government coffers. That allows Chavez to lavish cash on social projects and fund salary increases ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

Opponents were quick to criticize the socialist, who a year ago promised the global financial crisis would not touch "a hair" of Venezuela's economy. He announced the devaluation on Friday night during an important baseball game.

"By establishing the exchange rate at 4.3 bolivars per dollar, the quality of life for Venezuelans is automatically devalued since we now have half the money we had before," said Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a Chavez opponent.

Government workers and those on the government dole will be the benefactors, thus increasing the loyalty vote for Chavez...which gives him a few more years to increase his chance of being elected dictator-for-life.

The Wall Street Journal calls this a humilitating turn:
...for a currency renamed the "strong bolivar" two years ago when Mr. Chavez chopped three zeros off the old currency and declared the beginning of an era of monetary fortitude.
With inflation in 2009 between 25% and 30%, Venezuela is home to one of the top ten oil reserves in the world. This is a wealthy country, but these are bleak times for the people.

In February, "the people" lifted term-limit restriction on the presidency. About 54% of voters approved the ban. How does that happen? How do the people vote to end their democracy, and why? Javier Corrales, a contributor to HuffingtonPost says "the systems of checks and balances has become inoperative."
Government negotiations with opposition forces are nonexistent; the judiciary rarely restrains government actions; state employees are forced to act as campaign props and vote for the government; electoral authorities disregard the law; and the ruling party is allowed to make use of state resources that are systematically denied to the opposition.
And Corrales says "Chavismo" has gone beyond the normal "garden-variety electoral autocracy," by "enabling" "the promotion of disorder" and "chaos.

Then, after the referendum:
Opposition leaders who won regional elections in December have been denied funding to run their governments or pushed into self-exile-to avoid arrest under selectively applied corruption laws. Other leaders have been jailed. The government has begun to ban books from libraries. With the help of the military, it has also accelerated the arbitrary nationalization of private assets. Chávez has repressed independent student groups, and is attempting to shut down Globovisión, the most critical television news channel left in the country.
Long before the ban on term limits, Chavez began seizing farm land  - "forced land redistribution" - and once seized, the plan was to be "utopian farming villages for squatters. Army commandos stood by and watched as squatters did the devil's work back in 2007, and after, and threatened farm owners with machetes, rifles and their lives.

The redistribution of wealth did not work, of course. This report from May 2009:
The 32,000-acre (12,950-hectare) El Charcote Ranch in central Venezuela was meant as a showcase for President Hugo Chavez's agrarian revolution, turning a country with food shortages and runaway inflation into one that could feed itself. But since troops and peasants seized the land from a British agribusiness company four years ago, beef production has dropped from 2.6 million pounds (1.2 million kilograms) annually to zero.

The ranch and many like it across the country raise the concern that the dream of a Venezuela living off its own land is just one more socialist promise heavy on rhetoric and light on results. The Chavez government says it has taken over more than 5.4 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of farmland from private owners. Yet food imports have tripled since 2004, the year before Chavez began his aggressive reform program.

The reality of a government-promised utopia:
This vast ranch used to be filled with grazing herds of cattle, but the green pastures are now overgrown with weeds and dotted with patches where poor farmers grow corn and beans. The cows have vanished.
The Chavez plan went astray as oil prices plummeted and funding for his bloated social programs, and vote purchasing, was not sustainable...without devaluing the monetary holding of the people. What a sad story...and a word of warning to America. Oh, and a reminder to America too: President Obama and Hillary Clinton congratulated Chavez on his un-term-limited future, along with the Castro brothers. Do ya think there's an agenda here?

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton