‘How Venezuela stumbled to the Brink of Collapse’ Article

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Venezuela’s economy was one of the richest in Latin America, but by 2016, it is said to have shrunk by approximately 10 percent. Inflation is about 720 percent which double that of South Sudan and this rendered its currency worthless (Taub, 2017). The three leading parties narrowed to 2 and decided to share power and oil revenue among the constituents which never worked. Chavez converted oil into loyalty by firing 18000 PDVSA workers, (most of them were skilled managers and technicians) and replaced them with 100000 supporters. In other words, Chavez smashed corrupt elites and established his own corrupt cartels.

The author claims that Nicolas Maduro, a president who succeeded Chavez in the year 201 inherited an economy in shambles and the weak support from public and elites. As a result, he was desperate as he lacked full control of military started controlling food and rugs trades and even gold mining. Because he (Maduro) could not pay welfare programs and subsidies, he decided to print lots of money. Such increased the inflation which made basic goods unaffordable, and decided to fix currency exchange rate and institute price controls and such made imports expensive, businesses were shut down. Maduro printed, even more, money and inflation growth were experienced again. Food started being scarce (Taub, 2017). The unrest in the country grew, and the survival of Maduro grew on handouts that he could no longer afford. Such is what destroyed Venezuelans economy leading to street violence.

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In light of this, Maduro decided to restore order by deploying military units and police leading to bloodbaths. Venezuela has found itself in a paradox: the government is known to be too authoritarian ad this is why it cannot coexist with democratic institutions, but he is weak to remove them without the risk of collapsing.

I partly agree with the author that corruption and rewarding the elites in the country is the major cause of political and economic turmoil in Venezuela. However, I think that this argument is too simplistic. What led to the collapse of the Venezuelan economy is the idea of trying to turn the country into a socialist paradise by Hugo Chavez, the policies that continued to exist under the leadership of Maduro. Turning a capitalist free market economy into a socialist state by nationalizing agricultural operations, power generation, steel production, telecommunications, banks, and oil industry was a miscalculated move.

Socialism by nature, in transition, is prone to many ongoing political and social conflicts and extreme contradictions. The state is subjected to the internal contradictions and has a strategic field that reflects the correlation between social and political forces at a given time and inherently unstable (Corrales & Penfold-Becerra, 2015). In the 21st century, Venezuela has been characterized by the instability and transformation because of instability and transformation with an administration that wanted to install socialism through a violent structure and capitalist structure which was weakened partly by some leftist inroads, and this was a good recipe for instability.

It is true that scarcity was induced for political reasons starting with the general strike of 2002-2003 that forced the regime to adopt strategies that held back the socialism advance, the government adopted populist measures which included maintenance of a huge disparity between market and regulated prices. The policy did work well, but in the end, economic disruptions were produced that negatively affected the support for governments. Secondly, preferential treatment by the government towards the elites caused the business to penetrate the governing spheres and engage in corruption.

Moreover, capitalist could have decided to withdraw from politics, but the disruptions in the market that were created by the original actions led them to think otherwise since Chavistas did not sufficiently view them because of their socialist convictions (Seawright, 2012). The instability that was enhanced by the disloyal opposition which was questioning the legitimacy of the government, shift in the correlation of country’s political forces pronounced effect on ideological tendencies configurations within the state.

I think Chavista can be understood to be having a mixed record. Negatively, PSUV is controlled by the state managers specifically mayors, governors, and ministers. Chavez knew the need of harnessing the enthusiasm of elites—by offering opportunities outside the arena of elections to take part in decision making. In 2011, he created Gran Polo Patriotico which took social movements and the allied parties like Communist party among others that were to the PSUV’s left, but they maintained crucial position to government support (Seawright, 2012). In contrast, Maduro can be described to be a power broker; and he is not ready to accept criticism from those who are outside ruling circle. Chavista objected to super delegate’s participation, and only allowed the elected Chavista officials at the Third Congress in 2014 which represented about 40 percent of the total delegate’s number.

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From Chavez presidency in 1999, the Chavistas used the power to decrease measures so that they could deepen the change process. Chavistas administration can be said to have played important roles like community counsel which proliferated after the year 2006 in mobilizing and organizing popular sectors and facilitating empowerment sense among them. These efforts, however, are not sufficient in achieving long-term goals formulated in achieving transformation. The lessons of Venezuela show what was written by Marx. In a capitalist country, the good intentions of the revolutionaries cannot be possible without the mobilization outside the state, but will lead to deepening of the change process as it points to socialism change.

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  1. Corrales, J., & Penfold-Becerra, M. (2015). Dragon in the tropics: The legacy of Hugo Chávez.
    Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press,
  2. Seawright, J. (2012). Party-System Collapse: The Roots of Crisis in Peru and Venezuela. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
  3. Taub, M. (2017). How Venezuela Stumbled to the Brink of Collapse.
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