Debunking Socialist Damage Control on Venezuela

Authored by: Matt Palumbo

In just a single year from 2016-2017, nearly 75% of Venezuelan’s lost weight, averaging 19 pounds in total.

They weren’t on a diet by choice.

Food shortages have become common in Venezuela as their economy continues to dwindle. Electricity and water are being rationed, unemployment tops levels higher than the peak during America’s Great Depression, and inflation is in the thousands of percent per year.

In response to the disaster, TeleSur, a Latin America socialist propaganda network funded by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela (among others), has played the denial game. Admittedly, the justifications for their denial would be hilarious, if it weren’t for the grim reality of what they’re denying. “The facts are clear — Venezuela does have a food crisis,” reported TeleSur, after acknowledging the “19 pounds lost” statistic. According to them, it’s “right-wing U.S.-backed opposition forces” that are intentionally sabotaging the economy, but encouraging supermarket owners to hoard food, all as an attempt to make Venezuela’s socialist government look bad.

Well, that’s certainly one (insane) theory.

The only remotely sensible argument I’ve seen from a socialist is that Venezuela’s problems have more to do with declines in the price of oil than socialism, given that about half of Venezuela’s economy is dependent on oil exports. One can only then wonder why the citizens of Saudi Arabia (of which 40% of their economy comes from oil) aren’t starving in the streets too.

And for that, blame the incompetency of Hugo Chavez.

Chavez decided to nationalize the nation’s oil industry, and the nation’s largest firm, PDVSA, comes as Exhibit A in the follies of socialism. In protest of Chavez during 2002-2003, workers went on strike with the goal of forcing a new election. In response, Chavez firing half of PDVSA’s workforce, 20,000 workers in total. Opposition was strongest among top management, 80% of which were fired (which also included engineers, and the firm’s research arm).

Replacing those employees with others equally knowledgeable about the oil industry proved impossible – and were replaced by political allies of Chavez. In fact, it was company policy during Chavez’ reign that only his supporters would be hired – regardless of competency. While PDVSA produced 3 million barrels of oil a day before being taken over, they now average only 2 million a day.

But here’s where things get truly incredible. This is despite the fact that PDVSA has since seen their workforce explode from the pre-nationalization 40,000 employees to an incredible 150,000 employees today. Yet despite that massive increase in employment, the decline in barrel per day production has declined in percentage terms by what the nation saw during the 2002-2003 worker strikes. In other words, 20,000 striking (competent) workers caused as much damage to PDVSA’s production as the hiring of an additional 130,000 socialist workers. The workforce is up almost fourfold, yet production is down a third.

Perhaps Venezuela wouldn’t have to worry about low oil prices, if it wasn’t for their socialist government mismanaging the industry into oblivion.

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