Friday, May 27, 2016

The Silence of the Cheerleaders

The most depressing thing about the impending collapse of Venezuela is how so very predictable it was. So predictable in fact, even fortune teller Yesina Gonsalves predicted it way back in 2008. In contrast to socialists at UWI who were at the time championing Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution as an economic model the world should adopt. Thus finally answering that age old question: Does a Venezuelan fortune teller know more about economics than socialists? 

 But what’s really infuriating, is that while Venezuela violently convulses to its death, choking on the socialist legacy of Hugo Chavez and his dim witted successor, Nicolas Maduro, there is a deafening silence among their Trini supporters. For over a decade Chavez and has cronies ran roughshod over Venezuelan democracy; gerrymandering elections, jailing political opponents and attacking press freedoms. All the while fawning socialists here in T&T cheered them on like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert.

Take for example the late UWI economist, Norman Girvan, an outspoken cheerleader of Chavez, who in 2013 lauded him as a man who “actually kept his promises to the people”. This would be true if Chavez’s promises to the people were rewriting the Venezuelan constitution to enable him to run for office indefinitely, stacking the Supreme Court with cronies, and of course ridding the country of food and toilet paper. Food shortages had begun in Venezuela since 2005 when price controls were introduced. Price controls like other dumb socialist ideas, was something Girvan evidently supported. And why not; from the safety of UWI he had access to food and could wipe his butt.  

Unlike Girvan, fellow Chavez cheerleader Wayne Kublalsingh is very much alive. Considering that most Venezuelans are starving, the former hunger striker should perhaps share his secret Sunlight and Tulsi Leaves recipe that he claims kept him alive. Famous for demanding transparency and accountability from governments at home, Kublalsingh unashamedly supports the exact opposite abroad. He has written countless barely comprehensible articles praising Chavez and socialism, as well as Osama Bin Laden, Ayatollah Khomeini, and even the psychotic regime in North Korea. Which, I have to admit, is an impressive commitment to supporting tyranny.

Imagine if the PNM or UNC seized thousands of acres of private land and shared it among their party supporters, turned the nation into the biggest CO2 emitter in the region, and jailed or killed annoying protestors. All these things and more Chavez and Maduro have done; Kublalsingh’s hunger strike would have probably lasted years. The PNM and UNC should take note; if you want environmental activists to cheer for you, make sure to use words like “imperialism” and “revolution”, while you brutally repress everyone.

The one Chavez cheerleader you could give credit to is David Abdullah. Venezuela might be sinking fast, but Abdullah is still shamelessly jumping up and down waving his pom poms in the air. This week as Maduro visited T&T, Abdullah blasted the media for “only portraying one side of the story”. Apparently, those journalists reporting on Venezuela’s escalating inflation rate, no electricity and people resorting to hunting dogs and rats for food were being Negative Nancies.

No Chavez cheerleader exposes socialism for the fanatical religion that it is, more than David Abdullah. As someone with a long history in the Trade Union movement, he has conveniently ignored the fact that Chavez repressed the trade union movement in Venezuela. Or that in Cuba, Chavez’s ideological partner, trade unions are outlawed. Abdullah mindlessly repeats slogans that Chavez helped the poor, while ignoring the obvious, that the Chavistas mostly helped themselves. The richest woman in Venezuela happens to be Hugo Chavez’s daughter. Even now, in the face of apocalypse, triggered by long discredited socialist polices, he still clings to his faith that the messiah was right all along.

The events in Venezuela should serve as a reminder not just of the continuing track record of failure of socialism as an economic and political system. But also as to how eager intellectuals are to embrace tyranny, and how little the public holds them accountable for it. Socialists can claim one victory in Venezuela though. Everything is in ruin, thus everyone is now equal.

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