With the events in Venezuela finally coming to peoples’ attention in the US, I thought I’d put together a simplified, abridged version of the events of the last few decades and how Venezuela got to where it is today.
FIRST OF ALL, this nonsense started with (fucking) Hugo Chavez.
When Chavez originally came to power in 1998, he won with the promise of finding a “third way” between socialism and capitalism— which coincidentally was a very attractive prospect to those who had been unhappy with the previous administration. Before and during his campaign, he went on tours around the country, giving talks about the socialist plans he had for the country and gaining the trust of the poor and working class with promises of socialist reform that would help them.
HOURS after his swearing-in he decreed a referendum to rewrite the constitution, which would include eliminating the senate and lengthening the presidential term. Oil, Venezuela’s largest industry, is then taken under government control, and rather than spread the profits among the people (like socialism should work) the vast majority of the oil profits get funneled to high-ranking government and military officials. Protests begin, and he fires all state employees who take part in the strikes, something like 18,000 people fired from the state-run oil industry right off the bat.
He then establishes Telesur, a Caracas based TV network that served as an “alternative” news source to the mainstream media. At one point, pro-Chavez lawmakers grant him the power to legislate by decree for something over a year. Chavez refuses to renew broadcasting licenses of TV and radio stations that speak unfavorably of him. Venezuela continues to decline economically as the government now has control of the oil industry, electric, cement, water, and media, and the vast majority of those industries’ profits continue to be funneled to his friends in the government and military. By this point it has become very clear that Chavez’s intention has never been to create a socialist state for the good of the people, but rather to use the buzzword “socialism” to gain the trust of the voting majority and take control of industry so as to make his own friends and supporters as rich and powerful as possible.
Fast forward a few years and he falsifies election results to eliminate presidential term limits, allowing him to run for reelection indefinitely. Around 2012, after a few years of battling with cancer, he announces that should he be unable to stay President, his Vice-President Nicolas “Yes-Man” Maduro should take his place.
Maduro becomes interim President.
Maduro falsifies election results to win election against opposition candidate Capriles.
The National Electoral Counsel announces an audit of the election results to “preserve harmony between Venezuelans” and you can guess how that went.
Since Maduro has been in office, he’s continued the “legacy” Chavez has left behind, booting US diplomats from the country, shutting down all media except for those run by the state, refusing to allow CNN in the country, and attempting to rewrite the constitution YET AGAIN to take away even MORE power from the representative bodies and take one step closer toward being an authoritarian dictatorship.