Skip to main content

Trivia question 1: who has reduced the percentage of people living below the poverty line by 28% over 5 years in office?
B. Lyndon Johnson
C. Hugo Chavez
D. Teddy Roosevelt

Trivia question 2: Over a three year period, which President's policies led to an extraordinary 11% growth in the economy?
A. Barack Obama
B. Ronald Reagan
C. Hugo Chavez

The answer may surprise you: to both questions, it is C.

I'm not here to defend all of Chavez's policies, in particular, his repression of free speech and democratic dissent. Those actions are wrong, from both a moral and political perspective.

Yet there are some things Obama, and all of us, can learn from Venezuela's leader.

Let's look at the data that substantiates trivia question 1. According to economist Mark Weisbrot, of the non-partisan Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC., 54 percent of Venezuela in 2003 was in poverty and 26 percent was in poverty at the end of 2008.
It looks like Chavez's policies are working. Here is what he has pursued to achieve these accomplishments, which by no means are finished:
1. Mission Mercal- grocery stores that help low-income families buy discounted food.
Together with over 6,000 soup kitchens, Venezuelans have greater access to food.
2. Government run-microcredit programs- providing loans and grants for small businesses
3. Increased petroleum production
4. Price controls on foods to help low-income people eat well
5. Creation of Communal Councils, small groups of citizens that determine how the government's money will be spent in their community.
6. Communal banks focused on helping individuals, not accruing profit
7. Increased spending on education
8. Government training to farmers
9. Nationalization of key industries, including telecommunication, banking, and electric utilities.

Imagine if we had a Mission Healthy Food in the United States and grocery stores in inner-cities and food deserts offering low-cost food to those who need it. Or contemplate the community councils; how much money would the military get to buy new fighter gets, and how much money would local libraries and food stamp programs get with the extra cash.  I think implementing all of the above numbers, except point 3, would benefit the United States.

Let's look at trivia question two, economic growth.
When people are not hungry, they are more productive workers. When starting a business is not only limited to those with connections to big banks, entrepreneurs have a fair shot. There seems to be a false dichotomy suggested between social justice policies and economic growth; in fact, social justice policies often create economic growth.

Again, I am not here to defend all of Chavez's policies. But I hope our politicians do not exclude considering the progress Chavez has made and some of his unique policies that could be successful here.



Are there lessons Obama can learn from Chavez?

57%16 votes
39%11 votes
3%1 votes

| 28 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)

    Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks. -Karl Marx

    by Jkreine on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 01:18:36 PM PDT

  •  Your latest figure for Venezuelan poverty is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for 2008. How has the global recession affected this number since then?

    "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here:

    by Kimball Cross on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 01:28:41 PM PDT

  •  Long live the Bolivarian Revolution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    For those who don't know what that means:

    The “Bolivarian Revolution” refers to a leftist social movement and political process in Venezuela led by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth Republic Movement (replaced by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in 2007). The "Bolivarian Revolution" is named after Simón Bolívar, an early 19th century Venezuelan and Latin American revolutionary leader, prominent in the Spanish American wars of independence in achieving the independence of most of northern Latin America from Spanish rule. According to Chávez and other supporters, the "Bolivarian Revolution" seeks to build a mass movement to implement Bolivarianism - popular democracy, economic independence, equitable distribution of revenues, and an end to political corruption - in Venezuela. They interpret Bolívar's ideas from a socialist perspective.
    The attacks on Chavez as an opponent of democracy and are by propagandists and oligarchs.

    As Tariq Ali notes:

    Some foreign correspondents in Caracas have convinced themselves that Chavez is an oppressive caudillo and they are desperate to translate their own fantasies into reality.. They provide no evidence of political prisoners, leave alone Guantanamo-style detentions or the removal of TV executives and newspaper editors (which happened without too much of a fuss in Blair’s Britain).
    Chavez’ aims are regarded as revolutionary, even though the measures proposed are no different to those of the post-war Attlee government in Britain. Some of the oil-wealth is being spent to educate and heal the poor.

    Just under a million children from the shanty-towns and the poorest villages now obtain a free education; 1.2 million illiterate adults have been taught to read and write; secondary education has been made available to 250,000 children whose social status excluded them from this privilege during the ancien regime; three new university campuses were functioning by 2003 and six more are due to be completed by 2006.

    I would love to have a person like Chavez running on the Democratic Party platform in the U.S.

    I think Obama can learn a lot from Chavez and replicate some of his policies in the U.S.

    The U.S. needs its own Bolivarian revolution.

  •  when i hear (0+ / 0-)


    9. Nationalization of key industries, including telecommunication, banking, and electric utilities.
    i just think theft
  •  Relocate the US to near a big oil consumer? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Obama should find a bunch of oil, then move the US to a couple thousand miles way from the world's biggest oil consumer.

    Venezuela's poverty level should be lower than Norway's.

    Venezuela has more oil and no trade agreements with destitute countries.

  •  sorry, but you can't cherry pick. (0+ / 0-)

    besides if it's that wonderful in venezuela why don't we have any pictures? and, i won't believe they've arrived until people start moving down there on house hunters, international. the movers like colombia and honduras, not to mention belize. venezuela, not so much.

  •  Long live high oil prices. Kudos to Chavez for not (0+ / 0-)

    stealing all the oil money and using some of it to help his people. But it has nothing to do with US.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site