Hugo Chavez

All Eyes on Venezuela on Sunday

Written by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, policy analyst on Latin America at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday for their most important presidential election in a generation. At stake is the end of the thuggish, corrupt, and autocratic 14 year-old regime of Hugo Chávez.

The opposition, led by Governor Henrique Capriles Radonsky, has a real chance of winning the vote—if it’s fairly done. The most credible polls show a very tight race with still a number of Venezuelans undecided. However, there are good reasons to believe that most of the undecided are actually “hidden” votes for Capriles, people who are intimidated or afraid to express their support for the opposition candidate.

As I’ve written before, it won’t be a fair election. Four out of the five seats in the National Electoral Council (CNE) are loyal chavistas. The CNE has resorted to increasingly dirty tricks. The latest has been to announce that people who mark one of Capriles’ pictures in the ballot won’t actually be voting for him, but for a lesser known third candidate (see the explanation here).

The electoral registry, which is controlled by Cuban operatives, has increased its size by 58 percent since 2001, even though Venezuela’s population has risen only 18 percent during that period. Fourteen of the country’s 24 states have more registered voters than total adult population. There is even the documented case of 2,272,706 voters that appear to live at the same address.

Forced Labor Camps Are the Fruit of Venezuelan Socialism

Vcrisis“Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” ~ former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Writing in his book “The Life of Reason”, Spanish philosopher George Santayana declared “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

That axiom may be nowhere more true that in the portion of humanity that endlessly embraces authoritarian government despite its inglorious record of failure. The failure, according to the Left, arises not in the flawed philosophy itself, but in the improper application of it. Many of the greatest atrocities in human history occurred in the last century at the hands of leftist, totalitarian regimes around the world, yet like a dog to its vomit, the Left ignores the fetid stench of death and oppression and comes back for more.

Venezuela is just the latest example of this phenomenon.

Three years ago, in the left-leaning, writer David Sirota praised the brilliance and virtues of corrupt Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, effusively extolling the “indisputably positive results” of Chavez’s brand of socialism, while minimizing or dismissing his human rights abuses and strong-armed tactics in the pursuit of power, arguing he was not as bad as his predecessor. He gushed that Chavez, who had stolen private property on a mass scale in the process of nationalizing the nation’s oil industry, had “racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.”

Venezuela’s socialist government is now rationing food after prices controls proved to be a miserable failure

Venezuela food shortages

The socialist government of Venezuela is, basically, rationing food. With food shortages a concern, one that’s been around for some time and was one of the issues at the center of protests earlier this year, its implementing a biometric system that will track how much people buy to stop them from overbuying:

The Venezuelan Executive Office is to implement a biometric system for the purchase of food in private supermarkets, for the purpose of controlling the sale of staples per individual. Authorities have outlined the move seeks to “collect data on Venezuelans’ purchases, included items and frequency” in order to tackle food smuggling.

With the mechanism, customers’ identity card numbers and fingerprints will be recorded, so as to prevent them from buying the same product more than once during the same week.

The current Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, has continued the most of Hugo Chavez’s policies and announced the biometric food rationing system in the spring. Maduro, who’s led the country since March 2013, has blamed hoarders, smugglers, and the Central Intelligence Agency for the food shortage.

Venezuelans Are Fed Up With Socialist President Maduro

Nicolás Maduro

Since February 4th, students have been protesting in San Cristóbal, Venezuela. Protesters have been strongly opposed to current President Nicolas Maduro and his heavy-handed interventionist government and have decided to take it to the streets, which ended up triggering waves of violent attacks that are mostly perpetrated by paramilitary forces. At least 6 people have died so far.

Before the protests, Venezuelans were experiencing soaring crime rates, an annual inflation rate of 320 percent and shortage of basic goods, which are all mostly due to protectionist policies and Hugo Chavez’s National Bolivarian Guard’s crack down on the ‘over-pricing’ the government accuses producers and merchants of practicing.

Product shortages range from vegetables to toilet paper.

In Venezuela, food is subsidized. The government has instilled an idea among its citizens that cheap gas is every Venezuelan’s right, so oil is heavily subsidized as well. The president of the Venezuela’s national oil company is also the vice president in charge of the country’s economy, has also acted as the government’s energy minister.

Is Obama At War With American Citizens?

“I am concerned for the security of our great nation, not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” — Commanding General Douglas McArthur

A few weeks ago, a friend sent a YouTube link of a conversation between a radio show host and a man identifying himself as a police lieutenant in North Carolina, who claimed America was about to slide into internal war and martial law, saying the ATF is recruiting from local and state law enforcement agencies to form an internal security force to suppress domestic insurrection. The catalyst for the insurrection would be a collapse of the American economy, intentionally triggered, leading to a complete collapse of the social infrastructure, giving the government a pretext to consolidate power.

My response to her was that this was elements of truth mixed with a heavy dose of conspiracy theory, and suggested she’d feel better if she’d prepared her family for any emergencies by making sure they can defend themselves, and have enough supplies for their basic needs. After all, these things would be useful in situations other than the one she described, whether it be a home invasion by armed thugs, or the aftermath of a natural disaster where there was no access to electricity, fresh water, or food for an extended period.

I hoped that had calmed her fears, but the more I thought about it, the more I could understand how someone could come to these types of conclusions in light of the political environment unfolding in our country today.

House Democrat Praises Hugo Chavez

Jose Serrano

As you’ve probably heard, Hugo Chavez, who for 14 years ruled Venezuela and had long been a thorn in the side of American presidents, passed away on Tuesday. Chavez had been fighting cancer and died from a massive heart attack.

This was welcome news to expatriates of the South American country, many of whom left after Chavez began to implement his leftist agenda and crack down on dissent.

Strangley, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), who recently introduced a resolution to repeal the 22nd Amendment, praised Chavez via Twitter last night:

It didn’t take long for Rep. Serrano to have to explain that one. In a statement from his office, Rep. Serrano said that he met Chavez during a visit to his district in 2005.

Hugo Chavez defeats Henrique Capriles by hefty margin

Despite an exit poll showing him down to Henrique Capriles in his bid for re-election, Hugo Chavez was declared the winner of yesterday’s election in Venezuela:

Fighting for his political life, President Hugo Chavez overcame a vigorous challenge by Henrique Capriles in Sunday’s presidential election, receiving another six-year term that will give the populist firebrand the opportunity to complete the consolidation of what he calls 21st century socialism in one of the world’s great oil powers.

The victory, announced by the National Electoral Council late Sunday, gave Chavez the win with 54.4 percent of the vote, while Capriles took 44.9 percent. In winning his fourth presidential election since 1998, Chavez captured just over 7.4 million votes to 6.1 million for his adversary, turning back what had been a determined battle by Capriles, a 40-year-old former governor.

Chavez’s supporters, many of whom come from Venezuela’s poorest neighborhoods, took to the streets in celebration last night after he was declared the winner of the race. Capriles conceded that the lost not long after the results were announced.

Exit poll shows Hugo Chavez losing

While it’s still too early to say that Hugo Chavez has been defeated in his bid for re-election in Venezuela, but exit polls show that the socialist president is losing to Henrique Capriles Radonsky, who is leading the center-right coalition. The excerpt below, found via the Drudge Report, has been translated into English:

The candidate of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), Henrique Capriles, be imposed against Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez in the presidential elections held on Sunday in the Caribbean country, according to a poll exit polls by consultancy Variance the absence of closure of polling stations. The time set for the closing were 00.30 Spanish time, however, and because of the long lines in some of them, have remained open for another hour, until 01.40.

Despite the express prohibition of the Venezuelan electoral law to publish polls, apparently the opposition leader would get 51.3 percent of the votes, while the incumbent candidate would get the 48.06 percent of the ballots.

Hugo Chavez trailing opponent ahead of tomorrow’s election

Could a regime change be coming in Venezuela? Based on a report from the Wall Street Journal, Hugo Chavez is trailing his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonsky, in the South America country’s presidential election, which will occur tomorrow:

Venezuelans head to voting stations this Sunday in a race that is proving to be Mr. Chávez’s greatest challenge after nearly 14 years in office. The president has promised a deepening of his statist policies if he wins another six-year term. However, his campaign was slowed down over the past year as he battled an undisclosed type of cancer, which Mr. Chávez says he has overcome.

The survey conducted by local private pollster Consultores 21 found the challenger increasing his support to 51.8% while Mr. Chávez declined to 47.2%, according to Saul Cabrera, director of the firm. The survey was conducted as a vote simulation between Sept. 27 and Oct. 2 using 1,546 respondents. It had a margin of error of 2.5%.

Chavez, a self-described socialist, has aligned himself closely with Fidel Castro and nationalized several sectors of the Venezuelan economy. He’s also been a thorn in the side of the United States, though not a real threat.

Despite the poll above, there are still concerns about events that could influence the potential outcome, some of which were laid out by Juan Carlos Hidalgo. But if Chavez is sent packing, there aren’t going to be many that will shed tears.

Hugo Chavez: “I’d vote for Obama

Hugo Chavez

Back in July, I noted that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez had “endorsed” President Barack Obama in his bid for re-election. Chavez, who has enacted a number of policies to nationalize parts of his country’s economy, made it clear once again over the weekend that his preference in the race is President Obama:

With both presidents facing tight re-election fights, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez gave a surprise endorsement to Barack Obama on Sunday - and said the U.S. leader no doubt felt the same.

“I hope this doesn’t harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama,” the socialist Chavez said of a man he first reached out to in 2009 but to whom he has since generally been insulting.

Breaking news…socialists like Obama over Mitt Romney. I’m shocked — shocked, I tell you. Back in June, the Communist Party USA made it clear that they were backing Obama and Democrats in 2012, choosing what they consider to be the “lesser of two evils.”

Nevertheless, Obama’s hawkish foreign policy and contempt for civil liberties doesn’t exactly jive with the stated views of the hardcore Left, many of which were recently explained by Conor Friedersdorf and expounded upon this morning. Not to mention that, despite his pro-labor views, Obama really is really just another corporatist, when it all comes down to it.

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