Hugo Chavez, is one of the darlings of Western progressives. His crazed anti-Bush ravings and populist anti-capitalist sermonizing, combined with the perception that the Venezuelan government avoids the worst sorts of abuses usually associated with attempts to implement socialism, have served to endear him to the sorts of people who like the “glamour” of revolution but can never really come up with a satisfying riposte to the uncomfortable fact that Guevara was a homicidal, homophobic brute.
That means you can more or less expect them to ignore the mounting evidence that his “Bolivarian socialism” (“Socialism or death!”) will probably have about as much success in building a functioning economy as previous attempts at implementing socialism. According to a BBC report, Chavez’s continuing attempts to further increase state control over the Venezuelan economy are not meeting with the stunning success he might’ve hoped for:
Nearly eight years on… deterioration in Venezuela’s infrastructure and economy has continued…
[C]ity centre shops are now subject to raids by soldiers, checking to make sure prices have not been artificially raised in the wake of this month’s currency devaluation.
At the same time, chronic energy shortages have led to a programme of regular power cuts throughout the country, although the resulting outcry has led Mr Chavez to exempt Caracas from the blackouts while maintaining them elsewhere.
He has increasingly resorted to the ultimate economic sanction – confiscating the businesses of those who refuse to curb their prices…
The latest victim of this policy is the Exito supermarket chain… ultimately controlled by France’s Casino group, which also owns stores in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay.
That makes it the ideal target for Mr Chavez, who has ordered its expropriation as an example of “transnational companies” coming to Venezuela to “speculate with our prices”.
Yet there is little evidence that Exito was doing anything other than reflecting the higher costs of imported goods that now have to be paid for with Mr Chavez’s devalued bolivars.
The IMF, meanwhile, expects the Venezuelan economy to contract during 2010 while the rest of Latin America is projected to grow slightly. Then again, those neoliberal, transnational monetary manipulators would say that, wouldn’t they? In any case, regardless of a crumbling economy, mounting inflation, and the actual use of the military to police prices in stores, we can probably expect the usual suspects to not only continue to support Chavez’s “revolution” but to continue to insist that socialism works, if only someone would just do it right — and anyways, capitalism would’ve utterly destroyed itself under the strain of its own internal contradictions if Obama hadn’t bailed out the banks and auto industry, right?