“The Bolivarian experience in Venezuela
Americans have been trained by decades of Cold War propaganda to look for any confirmation that “socialism means poverty.” A quick, simplistic portrait of the problems currently facing Venezuela, coupled with the fact that President Nicolas Maduro describes himself as a Marxist, can certainly give them such a confirmation. However, the actual, undisputed history of socialist construction around the world, including recent decades in Venezuela, tells a completely different story.
Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in 1999. His election was viewed as a referendum on the extreme free market policies enacted in Venezuela during the 1990s. In December, when I walked through the neighborhoods of central Caracas, Venezuelans spoke of these times with horror.
Venezuelans told of how the privatizations mandated by the International Monetary Fund made life in Venezuela almost unlivable during the 1990s. Garbage wouldn’t be collected. Electricity would go off for weeks. Haido Ortega, a member of a local governing body in Venezuela, said: “Under previous governments we had to burn tires and go on strike just to get electricity, have the streets fixed, or get any investment.”