Protests in Venezuela are in the news, but stories from Caracas are eclipsed by reports from Kiev. Moises Naim of The Atlantic Monthly writes:
The shocking images of repression in the streets of Caracas are at a disadvantage when compared with the scenes in Kiev, where most international media and political attention is currently focused. The developments in Ukraine are bloodier, the images more startling, and the stories more tragic. Dozens have been killed in Ukraine, while thus far 13 lives have been claimed in Venezuela. So much more appears to be at stake in Kiev: European borders, energy security, Russian dominance in the former Soviet Union, and Vladimir Putin’s domestic and international reputation all depend on the outcome of Ukraine’s uprising.
While the happenings in Ukraine are front and center, the story from our neighbor to the south is every bit as important especially when we consider the direction our own country is taking. Fifty percent of the population of Venezuela opposes the totalitarian government, and the protesters who have taken to the streets…
…represent the vanguard of a society no longer willing to tolerate an abusive government with disastrous results to show for its 15-year grip on power: Venezuela is now the world champion of inflation, homicide, insecurity, and shortages of essential goods—from milk for children to insulin for diabetics and all kinds of indispensable products. All this despite having the greatest oil reserves in the world and a government with absolute control of all state institutions and levers of power. Sadly, that government has used its immense wealth and authority to push through unsustainable populist policies, buy votes, jail opposition leaders, and shut down television channels.
A country with great natural resources, a government with absolute power, politicians who use the vast sums of cash to buy votes, persecution of those who oppose the current administration, and government control of the media? That sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?
After all, President Obama has a phone and a pen so that he can work around Congress, frustrating the deliberately cumbersome apparatus our founders put in place to keep despots from fundamentally changing our government and our society.
Ever more people are receiving government largess funded by taxpayers who work harder and harder just to keep up….or by printing more and more “funny money.”
Those who speak out against the Obama administration face potential IRS audits, while the IRS subjects conservative groups applying for tax exempt status to greater scrutiny than they give to more politically correct groups.
And to top it off, a recent proposal to place government monitors in newsrooms has been shot down, for now.
Again, Naim writes, “Hugo Chávez based his popularity on his extraordinary charisma, lots of discretionary money, and a key and well-tested political message: denouncing the past and promising a better future for all.”
Again, eerily familiar. Hope and change, anyone? Fundamentally changing America?
What is happening in Venezuela is the natural end to socialism that tries to milk one segment of the population to support and buy votes from the rest. America, we should be watching. And we should reconsider the direction we are taking. Venezuela could be our future.