Such was the case of Venezuela (as it’s been with every other socialist country). When the country went socialist, things briefly looked on the up and up (as they tend to when you’re spending other people’s money). When Hugo Chavez came to power, there were noticeable improvements for the Venezuelan people that socialists highlighted, such as the poverty rate being cut in half (from 54 percent to 27.5 percent from 2004 to 2007). Of course, to brand that an example of socialist success would be like branding Bernie Madoff a success by only disclosing his hedge fund’s returns up until the day before it was exposed as a Ponzi scheme. By 2014, the poverty rate had nearly caught up to where it was in 2004, and in 2018 the poverty rate skyrocketed to 90 percent.
But before the collapse, that didn’t prevent the Left from praising Venezuela as a shining example of socialism done right.
In 2011 Bernie Sanders re-published an article on his official Senate website that argued: “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger.” Un-prophetically, the article concludes with the line “Who’s the banana republic now?” (Answer: Venezuela).
In 2013 Sirota, who is currently Sanders’ senior adviser and speechwriter, wrote an op-ed in Salon titled “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle.” In it, Sirota attributed Venezuela’s reduction in poverty to what he says America’s leaders fear – “his [Chevez’s] full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism.”
In 2007 economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz praised Venezuela’s economic policies, telling an audience that “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have had success in bringing health and education to the people in the poor neighborhoods of Caracas, to those who previously saw few benefits of the country’s oil wealth.” “It is not only important to have sustainable growth,” Stiglitz later added, “but to ensure the best distribution of economic growth, for the benefit of all citizens.” They’re enjoying an equal distribution of poverty now.
Hugo Chavez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) March 6, 2013
Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) March 5, 2013
None of these people should be taken seriously on any issue, and yet one of them is polling at #2 in the Democrat primary.