The End of 21st Century Socialism - March 2015
The dream of 21st Century Socialism is over, drowned in 16 years of mismanagement and corruption. What will eventually replace it is still hard to tell, but for now Venezuela is sliding precipitously from the authoritarianism of the late President Huge Chavez to a totalitarianism conjured up by President Nicolas Maduro. Chavez, who created the statist/socialist system and presided over it until he died in 2013, was able to hang on as long as he did because he had charisma, the ability to establish a close rapport with the poor and, above all, a period of sky-high oil prices, petroleum being virtually Venezuela's only export and vastly predominant source of government revenues. Maduro, by contrast, has none of these advantages.
He is a dull, even dour, personage who does not do particularly well with the common folk. And he is presiding over a country severely hit by a collapse of oil prices that brought a radical end to years of comforting windfalls. The trouble is, none of these windfalls were saved for the rainy days Venezuela is now experiencing. Between 2000 and 2012, the country raked in a cool USD 800 billion in revenues from petroleum, or two-and-a-half times as much, in real terms, as it had in the preceding 13 years. Most of this money went into funding the 21st Century Socialism with subsidies for healthcare, low-cost housing and cheap food for the poor and thus into buying political support. READ MORE>>