The suicide of a nation
April 30, 2016 4:24 AM   Subscribe

How does a nation die? Quickly? No, national suicide is a much longer process – not product of any one moment. But instead one bad idea, upon another, upon another and another and another and another and the wheels that move the country began to grind slower and slower; rust covering their once shiny facades.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory (12 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: We can have a good discussion about the situation in Venezuela, but we probably aren't going to get there with this post as is. Maybe try again without an immediately polarizing personal-opinion-piece main link. Please contact us if you have questions! -- taz

The Venezuelan government spends like Father Christmas after too much eggnog, subsidising everything from rural homes to rice. It cannot pay its bills, especially since the oil price collapsed, so it prints money.

That, at least, is about to stop because the government can't afford to print money any more.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:38 AM on April 30, 2016

the first article is another idealogue blaming the problems of venezuela on socialism - it's a narrow perspective that fails to explain one thing - cuba's had a fairly stringent form of socialism, but it hasn't collapsed like this - it wasn't a pleasant place to live, but it wasn't falling to pieces

i can't give specifics; it's possible that no one can, but my gut feeling is that although the brand of strict socialism isn't helping, the real problem is that the leadership of the country is completely incompetent and corrupt
posted by pyramid termite at 4:39 AM on April 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

For most of Castroite Cuban history, their economy was propped up by heavy subsidies from the USSR.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:43 AM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

For most of Castroite Cuban history, their economy was propped up by heavy subsidies from the USSR.

Of course this consideration should be balanced with mention of the harshest trade sanction regime ever implemented by the United States. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Cuba did not and remarkably still has not.
posted by srboisvert at 5:00 AM on April 30, 2016

But like Dagny Taggert I found there was nothing to push against – it was all a gooey mess of resentment and excuses.

I do love it when an author tips their hand early in a piece. If the egregious overwriting and history-free, context-free bloviating didn't, that is more than enough. That piece was shite. Utter garbage. There is plenty of good analysis about Venezuela, here is some:

Venzuela: the light at the end of the tunnel?
The road ahead in Venezuela
Venezuela is about to go bust (yeah, it really is, regardless of who is in charge, it's gonna be awful.)
The rise of smuggling in Venezuela.
Oil and healthcare: the collapse of Venezuela's healthcare.

Regarding Cuba - and I say all this as a staunch lefty - the country went through a horrible, horrible time in the nineties when the soviet union collapsed and their aid dried up, but sanctions may have actually done castro a favour in the long run as it prevented Cuba doing what Venezuela did, going on a debt-and-oil-fuelled import binge. They literally wrote cheques they can't cash; the reckoning will be harsh indeed.
posted by smoke at 5:10 AM on April 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Surely the bank note printers can pay themselves in bolívares?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:21 AM on April 30, 2016

I had thought about posting this piece about witnessing a lynching in Caracas to the blue the other day.
posted by Diablevert at 5:22 AM on April 30, 2016

Yeah this piece is garbage. Socialism isn't to blame for the mismanagement that made Venezuela's govt dependent on petrodollars. And unlike Cuba, Chavez never ended free enterprise completely or totally expropriated the capitalist classes. That opposition is arguably trying to take advantage of the crisis to break the nation and restore it to the pre Chavez era. If anything the comparison with Cuba makes clear that you've got to go full communism if you want stability. Of course, that ignores whatever skulduggery the CIA is up to down there. It's Our Hemisphere after all.
posted by dis_integration at 5:26 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

That first post is astonishingly vacuous - basically a Randite gloating over the sufferings of millions of people.

And the second post is crap too - more gloating over suffering. I'm flagging this whole thread - it's both content-free and offensive.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:28 AM on April 30, 2016

Hate, as a political strategy. Law, used to divide and conquer.

Even though the piece as a whole comes across as a libertarian whine, this phrase hit close to home here n the US.
posted by TedW at 5:33 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

While there is no doubt Venezuela is suffering currency collapse and hyperinflation, one must be careful easily accepting the analysis from a Tory rag like the Economist. The magazine has been a cheerleader for neoliberal policies.

Venezuela's economy has been based on oil which price has collapsed. Like other countries which are oil producers, and generally countries where extractive Industries for export have dominated, the wealth had flowed to a favored few. Pre-Chavez, the beauty of the neighborhoods and beaches of the rich extolled by the cited blog post was a stark contrast to the poverty of the barrios. Corruption was endemic before Chavez. In the countryside, large landowners controlled the police and supported private bands of enforcers. Many small farmers and landholders were forced off the land as it became concentrated in large ranches and farms. It is no surprise that certain right wing revolutionary groups in neighboring Colombia who had fought a 50 year Insurgency wrent into decline once Chavez came to power.

Yes, Venezuela is a mess, but it's been that way for the poor for decades. That is why the supported Chavez in the first place and still do. For them, shortages and grinding poverty are just another day.
posted by sudogeek at 5:33 AM on April 30, 2016

Venezuela's economy has been based on oil which price has collapsed.

It doesn't help that VZ oil is thick and sour, and has to be extracted and processed by engineers who know WTF they're doing. Said engineers didn't like having Chavista appointees made their managers at PDVSA, and left the country for the most part.
posted by ocschwar at 5:47 AM on April 30, 2016

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