Otto Reich: Socialism Cripples Venezuela

Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013 12:42 PM

By Dan Weil

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The socialist policies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — and Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who is acting in place of the seriously sick strongman — are ruining the country, says Otto Reich, former U.S. ambassador to the rogue nation.
Food shortages abound, and the government has devalued the bolivar. “None of this should be surprising,” Reich writes in The Wall Street Journal. “Shortages are inevitable when socialist governments interfere with free markets through price and other controls. Then government officials blame the growers, manufacturers, distributors or retailers that the government itself is bankrupting.”
To see what lies ahead for Venezuela, just look at what has happened in other Marxist countries, says Reich, who also served as assistant secretary of state for the Western hemisphere.
“First the population cannot find food to eat and thus protests spread,” he writes. “People and money flee the country, beginning with the job creators.”
Then the government imposes currency controls.
“It progressively monopolizes political, economic, judicial, military, and police powers,” Reich says. “Foreign investment slows to a trickle or stops.”
The history of Cuba, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe during the Cold War, shows that economic socialism ends in government repression. “The press is censored,” Reich writes.
“Coercion and hunger swell public anger. Protesters are beaten, jailed and occasionally executed.”

A free press is replaced with government-run media. “Inevitably, all dissent, especially that at the grass roots, must be extinguished lest someone reveal that the emperor has no clothes,” Reich states.
“If the people are so ungrateful or foolish as to not understand that all the central government's actions are being imposed upon them for their own good, then they will have to be taught that lesson by force.”
Bottom line: “socialism is obviously not working in Venezuela,” Reich concludes.

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