What are the results of Democratic Socialism, aka Socialism?

A misguided reader in the comments section recently posted to promote Democratic Socialism, aka Socialism.  Socialism and Democratic Socialism are the same thing.  As this topic has become trendy in the US political climate recently, it shows that history needs to be remembered, before following the mistakes of others.

The so-called Socialism in Scandinavian, European countries, and Canada are limited to socialized medicine. They are all still market economies, aka Capitalism.  For true Socialism, aka Democratic Socialism, look to Venezuela, for which many articles are linked here on the right side.  People in VZ are needlessly dying, due to lack of basic medicines, medical supplies; eating cats and dogs found on the street, eating animals at the zoo.  That should tell you how desperate the situation is, and how horribly Socialism is in what it has done to the people.

Venezuela’s former President Hugo Chavez, a household name similar to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, claimed to support a 3rd way, between Capitalism and Socialism, Democratic Socialism. Chavez promised free health care, free college, and social justice.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is following a strikingly similar failed playbook.

Socialistic policies in Puerto Rico are what has held Puerto Ricans down by perpetuating a cycle of government dependency.  Excessive government employees in PR are wasting taxpayer dollars.  The money wasted on excess employees could have been used to fix the numerous potholes in the streets or to hire more police officers.  Rewarding people for not working encourages them to be dependent on the government.   Many of these government jobs, which are a welfare program, are awarded to buy votes.  For non-workers, free housing, free electricity, free water, free cellphone, free medical care are also used to buy votes.  Many people will choose to not work jobs for a paycheck if they can instead have all their necessities provided for by the government, while having other under the table, cash paying jobs.   In Puerto Rico, why should the percentage of government workers be around 3x that of the states?  That’s an indicator of egregious inefficiency.

Socialism has never worked, and will never work because it punishes success, while rewarding mediocrity and laziness. Socialism CLAIMS to “seek to provide a better quality of life,” in theory, but in reality, it doesn’t. Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela CLAIMED similar, “seeking to provide a better quality of life,” and it did, but ONLY for the top politicians and their cronies. I have friends in Venezuela, some of whom voted for the false promises of Socialism. There are engineers who would be earning over $100,000 in a 1st world country, but instead are earning less than $30/month in VZ.

Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system in the world. Capitalism spreads wealth. Socialism spreads poverty.

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http://www.therealcuba.com/?page_id=74
Fidel Castro’s son enjoying a millionaire vacation, while Cubans are starving

While Cubans in Cuba have an average salary of $20 a month and cannot buy enough food to feed their families, Antonio Castro, one of the sons of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, spent several weeks in June of 2015 cruising the Aegean Sea on his 160 foot yacht with a group of friends and several bodyguards.

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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2637927/Castro-commie-hypocrite-lives-like-billionaire-Hes-posed-man-people-But-new-book-reveals-Cubas-leader-led-life-pampered-hedonism-fortune-big-Queens.html

Being the ex-President’s daughter pays off: Hugo Chavez’s ambassador daughter is Venezuela’s richest woman

  • Diario las Americas claims that Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, has $4.2billion in assets held in American and Andorran banks
  • Hugo Chavez famously declared ‘being rich is bad’ and during his lifetime railed against the wealthy for being lazy and gluttonous 
  • Efforts to determine Chavez’s wealth have been made before, without much luck

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billionDiario las Americas reports.

Others close to Chavez managed to build up great personal wealth that was kept outside the petrostate.

Alejandro Andrade, who served as Venezuela’s treasury minister from 2007 to 2010 and was reportedly a close associate of Chavez, was discovered to have $11.2billion in his name sitting in HSBC accounts in Switzerland, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Hervé Falciani.

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president's second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2 billion

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2 billion

 

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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/venezuela/9993238/Venezuela-the-wealth-of-Chavez-family-exposed.html

Venezuela: the wealth of Chavez family exposed

As Venezuela holds its first election following the death of Hugo Chavez, activists accuse the former president’s family of amassing huge personal wealth at the nation’s expense.

Wilmer Azaje pictured riding a donkey.

Wilmer Azaje pictured riding a donkey. Photo: PETER FOSTER

Topped with razor-wire that runs along a 10ft-high wall, uninvited visitors are not welcome at the Chavez family mansion in an upmarket suburb of the town of Barinas, where Venezuela’s late president was born in a mud-floored house 59 years ago.

But Wilmer Azuaje, a state legislator and prominent Chavez critic is not intimidated, driving through a pair of open gates to within 50 yards of the house, which he says is a symbol of how the Chavez family lined its own pockets while preaching the merits of the great socialist revolution.

A young guard hired to protect the property soon spots the intruder and a camera lens poking through the passenger-side window and races forward, taking out his 9mm Glock pistol, aiming directly at Mr Azuaje’s head.

For a moment, there is a tense stand-off, as the guard – a hired thug not much more than 18-years-old – demands to know who is taking photographs, but the older man soon faces the younger one down.

“I don’t have to answer your questions kid”, he bellows. “Now put that thing away before you do something stupid!”

With that, the maverick legislator speeds off, roaring with laughter at the latest game of cat-and-mouse with the Chavez family, who he describes as Barinas’s answer to a royal family.

His campaign to highlight how the Chavez clan has enriched itself has plenty of sympathisers in Barinas, a poor town which sits humid agricultural plains 300 miles southwest of Caracas in one of Venezuela’s regions.

Here the late-president’s family owns 17 country estates, totalling more than 100,000 acres, in addition to liquid assets of $550 million (£360 million) stored in various international bank accounts, according to Venezuelan news website Noticias Centro.

While ordinary Venezuelans suffer growing food shortages and 23 per cent inflation, the Chavez family trades in US dollars that now fetch four times the official bank rate on the black market.

Living in numerous mansions in Alto Barinas, the city’s most affluent district, the family and their children live a life of privilege, says Mr Azuaje, whose wife left him to marry into wealth and now lives next to the Chavez mansions.

“My daughter goes to school with the Chavez kids”, he explained. “She told me that the school dining hall has waiting staff to serve and clean up after the kids”.

Despite the death of the clan’s charismatic leader last month, the Chavez family nevertheless continue to hold sway as the ruling Socialist Party seeks to continue the Revolution that “El Comandante” started 14 years ago.

Nicolas Maduro, the 51-year-old former bus driver who Chavez designated as his successor, opened his campaign with a televised interview flanked by prominent members of Clan Chavez, who gave their all-important blessing to his candidacy.

“The family is here with you”, proclaimed eldest son Adan, who is the governor of Barinas state. “Nicolas Maduro can be ratified before the Venezuelan people and continue the Bolivarian revolution”.

If Mr Maduro, as polls predict, wins Sunday’s election, the Chavez family, which has members spread throughout all branches of the Venezuelan government, is unlikely to be called to account for its conspicuous affluence any time soon.

The second of seven children, Hugo Chavez’s stellar career brought fame and power to his family. His father, a former schoolteacher, served three terms as Barinas state governor, before turning to real estate development. Another brother, Argenis Chavez, is Venezuela’s energy minister.

The impoverished region was showered with government-funded social projects, which explains why many poorer residents still support the Chavez family, despite the allegations of corruption and the food shortages that leave three-hour queues at the supermarket for basic provisions.

“We are very pleased with the Chavez family, they have done great things in our state”, said Leonardo Osoyardo, a 33-year-old ‘Chavista’ who works in one of the state’s social projects. “Everyone in Barinas is content with them”.

That is not exactly true.

“Barinas is the worst state in Venezuela, and it’s the fault of the Chavez family”, said José Vitriago, a 56-year-old street kiosk vendor who voted for Chavez in all three of his presidential campaigns.

“It’s pure corruption, and Hugo Chavez allowed it all happen.

“They take the money that’s intended to help the people, and they put it in their own pockets. They’re buying country estates and apartments in the United States while we have nothing”.

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http://culturalmarxism.net/socialism-works-just-fine-hugo-chavezs-favorite-daughter-is-now-the-richest-person-in-venezuela

Socialism Works Just Fine: Hugo Chavez’s Favorite Daughter Is Now The Richest Person in Venezuela

Home / Collectivism / Corruption / Socialism Works Just Fine: Hugo Chavez’s Favorite Daughter Is Now The Richest Person in Venezuela
Socialism Works Just Fine: Hugo Chavez’s Favorite Daughter Is Now The Richest Person in Venezuela commie billionaire 620x330

Socialism Works Just Fine: Hugo Chavez’s Favorite Daughter Is Now The Richest Person in Venezuela

maria-money  Socialism Works Just Fine: Hugo Chavez’s Favorite Daughter Is Now The Richest Person in Venezuela maria moneySome people think that socialism doesn’t work.  Well, there is also one person on this planet who managed to make it work.  Believe it or not, the richest person in Venezuela isn’t a billionaire industrialist, but the daughter of dead socialist President Hugo Chavez, according to Venezuelan media reports.  [1] Like Bloomberg reported back in 2014, there is a coterie of Venezuelans close to Chavez who acquired wealth during his 14 years in power and under his successor. [7] One of them is María Gabriela, Chavez’s favourite daughter, who is now a multi-billionaire. According to the Miami-based Diario Las América, Venezuelan media sources will soon publish materials showing that María Gabriela Chávez has bank accounts in the U.S. and Andorra with assets totaling nearly $4.2 billion.  Everybody knows that Chavez — and later Maduro —  made some of their friends rich with lucrative government contracts, says Henrique Capriles, the governor of the state of Miranda who narrowly lost the presidential election to Maduro in April 2013. “There’s nothing more capitalist than a socialist in power,” Capriles says. [7]  Described as a “socialist socialite”, Maria Gabriella Chavez is every bit as controversial as her father. Accused of corruption, and enjoying the high life while the Venezuelan people suffer soaring inflation and widespread food shortages, she still occupies the presidential palace in place of the current president, Nicolas Maduro. [9] Maria Gabriela is Venezuela’s alternate Ambassador to the United Nations–a fitting post, since her father is greatly admired in that body, mostly by fellow socialists who envy his ability to steal money.  [5] We remember that Gabriela’s father was a notorious opponent of capitalism and Venezuela’s entrepreneurial class. When he was alive he went so far to say “capitalism leads us straight to hell.”  [1] Chavez was also a vicious opponent of the Unites States over the course of his life, declaring that the “North American empire is the biggest menace to our planet.”  [1] If the reports turn out to be true, Gabriela would be significantly richer than Venezuela’s richest businessman Gustavo Cisneros, whose estimated wealth amounts to $3.6 billion. According to the Criminal Justice International Associates, the Chavez family amassed a vast fortune at the height of Venezuela’s oil boom. Maria Gabriela is not the only Venezuelan to whom socialism has been very, very good: Alejandro Andrade, who served as Venezuela’s treasury minister from 2007 to 2010 and was reportedly a close associate of Chavez, was discovered to have $11.2 billion in his name sitting in HSBC accounts in Switzerland, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Hervé Falciani. [5] If you want a world in which a few obscenely rich jet-setters lord it over a sea of poor people, socialism is the ideology for you. Here, Maria Gabriela Chavez is pictured with Fidel Castro:

maria-and-fidel  Socialism Works Just Fine: Hugo Chavez’s Favorite Daughter Is Now The Richest Person in Venezuela maria and fidel

Following his death from cancer in March 2013, she has maintained a public profile by meeting with other Latin American leaders such as Raul and Fidel Castro, and by tweeting about politics and her Pomeranian dogs to almost a million followers. [9] This is fitting, since Castro is also a thief on a grand scale. He has made Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world, and may have looted a higher percentage of his formerly-prosperous country’s wealth than any warlord in recorded history. But that is what socialism is all about: great wealth and power for a handful, poverty and humiliation for the vast majority. [5] This always seems to happen. The socialists at the top of the socialist hierarchy end up with all the loot. Time and time and time again. What of the proletariat? What of the people? Suckers.

Maria-Gabriela-Chavez_ELPIMA20140629_0001_8  Socialism Works Just Fine: Hugo Chavez’s Favorite Daughter Is Now The Richest Person in Venezuela Maria Gabriela Chavez ELPIMA20140629 0001 8For a brief period in 2002, Gabriela served in the ceremonial First Lady of Venezuela, accompanying her father on major state occasions. She was also made one of Venezuela’s representatives to the United Nations in 2014. Her appointment was greeted with extreme skepticism from former Venezuelan ambassador Milos Alcalay.  “Normally in the U.N., when you get to the post of ambassador, you have served as a diplomat in many different positions, in many different parts of the world,” said Milos Alcalay, a former U.N. ambassador under Mr. Chávez. “In the case of María Gabriela it will serve as the beginning of her career. I hope she can do it. I have my doubts.”  [1] Gabriela has been dogged by allegations of corruption for importing rice from Argentinian food company Bioart at 80 percent above the market value. The scandal gave birth to her nickname “the queen of rice.” [1] Gabriela was reported to have lived in the Presidential palace for 10 months illegally after the death of her father in March 2013. She was asked repeatedly by the new President Nicolas Maduro to leave the premises. Reports of Gabriela’s extravagant wealth surface as her country is in the grips of a recession. Venezuela is suffering massive shortages of basic consumer goods with inflation running rampant. The situation has become so desperate that riots are breaking out at government-run supermarkets with citizens desperate to get a hold of scarce goods. [1]  Yet even as basic supplies such as eggs and toilet paper dwindle, the Chavez family’s lavish lifestyle costs Venezuelan taxpayers an estimated $300,000 (£185,000) per month, according to opposition politician Carlos Berrizbeitia, who told Fox News Latino: “La Casona has a swimming pool, a gym, a movie theatre, a bowling alley, a dance hall; and it is being used as a private club by the family of former president Chavez.” Such behaviour is considered typical of the so-called “Boliburguesía”, the governing class made wealthy under Mr Chavez’s rule. [9] Maduro himself is considered lavishly wealthy, though his expenses pale in comparison to those of the Chávez sisters. According to neighbors, the Chávez sisters have turned the presidential palace into “an entertainment club for their friends,” organizing noisy parties that last late into the night. [6] Between Maduro’s public expenses and that of Chávez and her older sister, Rosa Virginia, the government of Venezuela spends an estimated $3.6 million a day. [6] Despite their socialist rhetoric, Dr Mora said, “their lifestyle is no different to those who used to govern Venezuela for decades beforehand”. [9]

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[4] Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria Gabriela?, The Atlantic, Aug 26, 2014
[5] John Hinderaker, Socialism: The Most Corrupt Path to Great Wealth, Powerline, August 14, 2015
[7] Michael Smith Anatoly Kurmanaev, Venezuela Sees Chavez Friends Rich After His Death Amid Poverty, Bloomberg, August 12, 2014 — 12:01 AM EDT
[8] Andrew Bol, The benefits of Chavez socialism, The Herald Sun, August 15 2015 (9:59am)
[9] Tim Walker, Hugo Chavez’ daughter is sent to the UN – and Venezuela is less than impressed, The Independent, Friday 19 September 2014
[14] Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s daughter, richest person in the country, Fausta’s Blog, August 11th, 2015 at 1:48 pm

 

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https://www.foxnews.com/politics/what-democratic-socialism-really-means-the-movement-reshaping-americas-left

1-31-19

What ‘democratic socialism’ really means: The movement reshaping America’s left

American politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez increasingly embrace the socialist label – but with a qualifier, calling themselves “democratic socialists.”

So what does “democratic socialism” mean?

U.S. lawmakers politicking under that banner say it’s very different from the ideology that failed in places like Russia, Venezuela and other countries.

HOW SOCIALISM RUINED VENEZUELA

Socialism historians say it means exactly what it sounds like – it’s socialism, only implemented via democracy rather than revolution or dictatorship.

Michael Kazin, a history professor at Georgetown University who identifies as a democratic socialist, told Fox News: “‘Socialism’ is an umbrella term that encompasses all those who favor a more egalitarian, collectively-run society. As such, it includes dictators like Stalin and Mao as well as figures like [British politician Jeremy] Corbyn and Ocasio-Cortez who have been democratically elected and are committed to democracy.”

Democratic socialists can in principle support economic policies just as radical as those supported by revolutionary socialists – but in practice, democratic socialists tend to be less extreme.

“Democratic socialism has historically been about reforming and taming capitalism over time in a socialist direction, not overturning it wholesale,” Stephanie L. Mudge, an associate professor in sociology at the University of California-Davis who specializes in the history of socialism, told Fox News. In America, democratic socialists like Sanders focus on policies like free health care, free college, and taxing the rich more — not on taking over private businesses, as was done, for instance, in Venezuela.

When confronted with non-democratic socialism, American democratic socialists have taken varying positions.

Early in Bernie Sanders’ career, he praised violent socialist regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua.

DEROY MURDOCK: AOC = DNC

But Sanders has recently attacked non-democratic socialism. Last week, when the head of Venezuela’s legislature tried to seize power from the country’s socialist dictator, Sanders condemned the dictatorship as violent and illegitimate – while also urging the U.S. to avoid “the business of regime change or supporting coups.”

Socialist policies first came to Venezuela through the democratically elected Hugo Chavez, who promised democracy and freedom but later consolidated power. Venezuela’s elections are now widely considered rigged, and millions have fled hunger and poverty after the economy engineered by Chavez collapsed under his successor Nicolas Maduro.

Ocasio-Cortez has mostly kept silent about Venezuela, but told The Daily Caller that, “the humanitarian crisis is extremely concerning but, you know, when we use non-democratic means to determine leadership, that’s also concerning, as well.” She also noted that she’s monitoring the situation and “we’re figuring out our response.”

TOP 5 FAILED SOCIALIST PROMISES

Free-market advocates say that the big-government nature of real socialism naturally leads to dictatorship.

Nobel-prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek once argued that because socialism requires so much government, a central planner will be forced to choose between “either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans.”

Kazin disagrees.

“I often assign [Hayek’s book] ‘Road to Serfdom’ to my students and ask them to name a country that adopted the democratic socialist ideas Hayek condemns and became authoritarian. Neither they nor I can name any. And that certainly doesn’t describe Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Taiwan, or Japan,”

Those countries are not officially socialist, and Denmark’s Prime Minister has explicitly rebuffed Sanders for using that label for his country. Still, such countries do have large government programs and government-funded health care, for which Sanders and other democratic socialists in the U.S. advocate.

Some economists say those policies – while a far cry from the nationalization of private businesses – would still harm the economy.

“It’s not nearly as bad as full-blown socialism,” George Mason University economics professor Bryan Caplan told Fox News. “But at the same time, it ignores heavy costs.”

Caplan noted that Europeans tend to have incomes about one-third lower than Americans, and have worse outcomes in wealth measures like “living space per person” and car ownership.

The high taxes needed to pay for welfare systems discourage people from tough professions in the long run, Caplan says.

The idea of “democratic socialism” is hardly new. Friedrich Engels, the co-author of The Communist Manifesto along with Marx, wrote a description of “democratic socialists” back in 1847.

He described “democratic socialists” as those who “favor some of the same measures the communists advocate.” Engels scolded such “democratic socialists” for not pursuing total revolution, but he also listed three points that democratic socialists and communists tend to agree on.

  • “By limiting private property in such a way that it gradually prepares the way for its transformation into social property, e.g., by progressive taxation, limitation of the right of inheritance in favour of the state, etc.”
  • “By employing workers in national workshops and factories and on national estates.”
  • “By educating all children at the expense of the state.”

“In moments of action,” Engels continued, “the communists will have to come to an understanding with these democratic socialists, and in general to follow as far as possible a common policy with them – provided that these socialists do not enter into the service of the ruling bourgeoisie and attack the communists.”

Kazin said those descriptions are “quite different from their meanings now” and noted that there has often been conflict between different strains of socialism.

“The Bolshevik Revolution and the one-party tyranny it installed drove a wedge between democratic socialists and communists that lasted until the USSR collapsed in 1991,” he said.

For his part, Caplan worries some politicians may be more socialist than they let on – and says even their openly stated policies go too far.

“Those policies really can change the culture and lead to bad and lasting consequences,” he said.

Maxim Lott is Executive Producer of Stossel TV and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott

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https://www.foxnews.com/world/how-socialism-turned-venezuela-from-the-wealthiest-country-in-south-america-into-an-economic-basket-case

How socialism turned Venezuela from the wealthiest country in South America into an economic basket case

Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in South America, but in recent years millions have fled the country amid mass starvation and violence after socialist policies were enacted and government seized private industries.

Now, as Venezuelans struggle against the country’s current dictator, some Venezuelan exiles in the U.S. are desperately warning Americans to avoid going down a similar path.

Socialism not only takes away from people the access to basic food and medicines, but also creates an environment in which life is worth nothing,” Giannina Raffo, who fled Venezuela in 2016 but who still works with activist organizations there, told Fox News.

VENEZUELA’S INTERIM PRESIDENT GUAIDO OFFERS MADURO AMNESTY IF HE CEDES POWER

Despite that situation in Venezuela, polls show Americans warming to the term “socialism” in recent years.

Venezuelans who have fled their country warn that their country’s history shows what others must watch for and avoid.

Venezuela’s journey to disaster began in 1992, when a Venezuelan lieutenant colonel named Hugo Chavez led several army units in a coup against the government. More than 100 people were killed in fighting, but his coup was defeated.

However, in the name of national unity, the government released Chavez from prison after just two years.

Chavez made many positive statements about socialism after his release from prison. Almost immediately after his release, he went to Cuba and spoke before the Cuban parliament and Fidel Castro, telling them: “I do not deserve this honor. I hope I will deserve it one day… We are committed to the revolutionary work.”

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro walks past a painting of his predecessor, late President Hugo Chavez, inside the chambers of the Constitutional Assembly where he will give his annual address to the nation in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. 

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro walks past a painting of his predecessor, late President Hugo Chavez, inside the chambers of the Constitutional Assembly where he will give his annual address to the nation in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.  (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Four years after that, Chavez ran for the Venezuelan Presidency. During his run, he downplayed his previous radicalism – telling people that he was ”neither for savage capitalism, nor socialism, nor Communism”. Instead, he claimed to support a “third way” — a balance between socialism and capitalism.

Chavez won the election. Maria Teresa Romero, a Venezuelan who fled to the U.S., says Chavez’s softer rhetoric was all about seizing power.

“Hugo Chávez deceived people by blatantly using lies,” she told Fox News.

News reports from when Chavez won the Presidency in 1998 state that some Venezuelans sent their valuable property to Miami to protect it from potential confiscation.

Anti-government protesters cheer after Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's opposition-run congress, declares himself interim president of the South American country until new elections can be called, at a rally demanding the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. 

Anti-government protesters cheer after Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress, declares himself interim president of the South American country until new elections can be called, at a rally demanding the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.  (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)

But in the short run, their property was safe. Chavez didn’t implement many socialist policies immediately.

US ORDERS SOME DIPLOMATS TO LEAVE VENEZUELA, CITING SECURITY CONCERNS

His first priority was instead to re-write the Constitution. He was direct about it, telling the Venezuelan congress in 1999: “The constitution, and with it the ill-fated political system to which it gave birth 40 years ago, has to die. It is going to die, sirs — accept it.”

Chart looks at Venezuela's oil production and inflation.;

Chart looks at Venezuela’s oil production and inflation.; (AP)

Chavez succeeded in re-writing the Constitution, which came with new rights to things like free government-provided health care, college, and “social justice”. The constitution passed a popular vote easily, with 72% of the vote.

The basic structure of both the old and new constitutions followed the U.S. model – with a Presidency, a legislative branch, and a Supreme Court.

However, after several Supreme Court rulings went against Chavez, in 2004 he “stacked the court” by passing a law to add 12 new justices to it – justices that he got to pick.

A similar move was once proposed in the United States by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the idea has also been proposed recently by professors angry about President Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the court.

Only once Chavez had control of the courts and the legislature did he begin to fully advance socialist policies.

VENEZUELA’S LEADERSHIP CRISIS ‘CANNOT BE IGNORED’ AS WORLD PICKS WHETHER TO BACK MADURO OR SUPPORT OPPONENT GUIADO

“A series of changes started to show us the terrifying truth,” Giannina Raffo said. “Constant attacks on private property, the implementation of very harmful economic policies, criminalization of dissent, censorship, etc,”

In 2006, Chavez ran for election on an overtly socialist platform, and soon after he won, he began major seizures privately-owned property.

Thousands of private businesses were nationalized – including media outlets, oil and power companies, mines, farms, banks, factories, and grocery stores.

One video shows a shop owner in tears as his business is confiscated for charging higher prices than were allowed.

Through the nationalizations, Americans from Michael Moore to Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz often applauded Chavez’s regime. In beginning, Chavez had shown some progress in reducing poverty – something experts say was possible by spending Venezuela’s vast oil wealth.

“They were able to fund a lot with the oil money, and when oil prices went down, the rest of the economy had been just destroyed,” Tom Palmer, Executive VP at the Atlas Network, told Fox News.

Hundreds of people, mostly Venezuelan migrants, held a rally against Maduro and in favor of Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's opposition-run congress who proclaimed himself president of the South American nation. 

Hundreds of people, mostly Venezuelan migrants, held a rally against Maduro and in favor of Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress who proclaimed himself president of the South American nation.  (AP)

America may be a long way from Venezuela’s tragedy, experts say. Polls show that many of the 37 percent of Americans who say they support “socialism” actually have in mind the generous welfare states seen in Europe, rather than the traditional definition of socialism – the nationalization of production.

Giannina Raffo personally experienced the effects of Chavez’s economic policies, which caused massive shortages and hyperinflation.

“Just before coming to the U.S. in January 2016, my family and I used to make +8 hour lines to buy basic goods.”

Food was her biggest worry.

“It’s the same that Cuba has – basically you can only buy a certain amount of food per week (2 pastas, 2 milks, 1 chicken, etc).”

She noted that, often, even that amount was not available. Surveys show the average Venezuelan has lost 24 pounds.

Her family was fortunate and was able to move out of the country.

“’Living’ in Venezuela was not living anymore. [My family] only spent their time trying to find food and medicines to survive. The apartment that [my family] left behind – my home for 24 years – is now empty. They are not coming back.”

She continues to be an activist and tries to help Venezuelan pro-freedom groups from the U.S.

My advice to people, especially to youth, is to never stop fighting for their freedom. Never let your country be ruined by a “Chavez” or anyone,” she said.

“Don’t let someone ruin your next generations with absurd ideas of socialism. Educate and disseminate ideas of freedom as far you can.”

Maxim Lott is Executive Producer of Stossel TV and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott.

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