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I've never posted a diary before but the response to Hugo's death has brought me out of hibernation. When it comes to Hugo Chavez, it appears as if people do not let those pesky things called facts get in the way. I've seen endless comments about economic mismanagement without any statistic or historical analysis to back it up. There's a reason why he won in 13 of the last 14 elections/referendums.

Quoting from an article by Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian.

Since 2004, when the government gained control over the oil industry and the economy had recovered from the devastating, extra-legal attempts to overthrow it (including the 2002 US-backed military coup and oil strike of 2002-2003), poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70%. And this measures only cash income. Millions have access to healthcare for the first time, and college enrolment has doubled, with free tuition for many students. Inequality has also been considerably reduced. By contrast, the two decades that preceded Chávez amount to one of the worst economic failures in Latin America, with real income per person actually falling by 14% between 1980 and 1998.
Indeed the UN released a report that Venezuela now has the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. According to another UN report  Venezuela now has the lowest inequality in Latin America. The Human Development Index meanwhile has increased from 0.656 in 2000 to 0.735 in 2011. Meanwhile inflation while high, has been actually much lower than in the pre-Chavez years. Public debt in 2012 was at 51.3 percent of GDP - lower than US and much of Western Europe. Traditional measures of economic growth - GDP - have also been very strong. Much stronger than Mexico, for example, which is also a significant oil producer and that follows economic orthodoxy very closely(e.g. NAFTA).

And so on and so forth.

This is not to say that there were not problems - for example rolling blackouts in 2010 or the too-high crime rate.

But to label the Chavez period as an economic failure is simply not accurate. The poor and working people are doing much better than they were 14 years ago. Unlike here in the good ol' US of A where we got to live through 2 jobless recoveries, rising poverty and inequality, falling median incomes but a soaring stock market.

I highly suggest reading Mark Weisbrot at the Guardian or looking at the reports from the Center for Economic Policy Research here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Guardian's Rory Carroll has a different view, (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, nzanne, zubalove, milkbone, puakev, SilentBrook

    here. E.g.:

    The legacy of his 14-year “socialist revolution” is apparent across Venezuela: the decay, dysfunction and blight that afflict the economy and every state institution. The endless debate about whether Mr. Chávez was a dictator or democrat — he was in fact a hybrid, an elected autocrat — distracted attention, at home and abroad, from the more prosaic issue of competence.
    Mr. Chávez was a brilliant politician and a disastrous ruler. He leaves Venezuela a ruin, and his death plunges its roughly 30 million citizens into profound uncertainty. ... Reckless money printing and fiscal policies triggered soaring inflation, so much so that the currency, the bolívar, lost 90 percent of its value since Mr. Chávez took office ...
    Bureaucratic malaise and corruption were so severe that murders tripled to nearly 20,000 a year, while gangs brazenly kidnapped victims from bus stops and highways. ...
    Mr. Chávez’s political genius was to turn this record into a stage from which to mount four more election victories. An unprecedented oil bounty — $1 trillion — made him chief patron amid withering nongovernment alternatives...
    Rory is the Guardian’s Latin American bureau chief, and also the author of Comandante: Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela.

    Agreed, facts are helpful.

    •  Carroll is objective and has no axe to grind? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      NYT is drenched in oil money.

    •  Again, notice the grand statements (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      without any historical/statistic analysis. Soaring inflation? Lower than the Pre-Chavez years. Reckless money printing? Money supply grew at more or less the rate of the 90s. A depreciating Bolivar? A normal experience in Venezuela given the historically persistent inflation. Meanwhile the oil subsidy has been in place since the 1940s.
      I did acknowledge the high crime rate which is a problem. And there was corruption(But which government isn't corrupt?). In any case the real question is was his government more corrupt than previous ones?

      I think once can begin to sense Rory's leanings with her statement:

      He spent extravagantly on health clinics, schools, subsidies and giveaways, including entirely new houses.
      These seem to be all good things.
  •  Hmm... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, zubalove, milkbone, BvueDem

    So hero-worshiping this guy is really a thing, kind of sad.

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

    by lcj98 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:06:56 AM PST

  •  Comparison of inflation to pre-Chavez years is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milkbone, BvueDem

    too simplistic. Oil accounts for almost all Venezuelan exports. So oil prices have enormous effect on economy. Chavez won his first election when oil prices were low by historical standards. This lead to deterioration of economic situation. In the last 10 years oil prices were much higher. Yet Venezuelan economy didn't improve all that much. Inequality was decreased but overall economy suffered from mismanagement.

    •  An annual GDP growth rate (0+ / 0-)

      of 4.7% annually (inflation-adjusted) over the past decade is nothing to sneeze at. Neither are the achievements in poverty-reduction over the same time.

      I don't think that Chavez was some kind of saint, and he certainly failed to tackle several problems facing the country - but to claim economic stagnation during his Administration is to argue from ignorance.

      "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

      by Australian2 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 10:42:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It does appear that there is a certain amount of (12+ / 0-)

    laziness with regard to Chavez with people who should know better.

    From the Salon article..

    No, Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.

    For instance, according to data compiled by the UK Guardian, Chavez’s first decade in office saw Venezuelan GDP more than double and both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved. Then there is a remarkable graph from the World Bank that shows that under Chavez’s brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted (the Guardian reports that its “extreme poverty” rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent just a decade later). In all, that left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. Additionally, as Weisbrot points out, “college enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.”

    When a country goes socialist and it craters, it is laughed off as a harmless and forgettable cautionary tale about the perils of command economics. When, by contrast, a country goes socialist and its economy does what Venezuela’s did, it is not perceived to be a laughing matter – and it is not so easy to write off or to ignore. It suddenly looks like a threat to the corporate capitalism, especially when said country has valuable oil resources that global powerhouses like the United States relies on.

    For a flamboyant ideologue like Chavez, that meant him being seen by the transnational elite as much more than an insignificant rogue leader of a relatively small country. He came to be seen as a serious threat to the global system of corporate capitalism.

    That, of course, is considered a high crime by the American political illuminati – a high crime prompting a special punishment.

    One would hope that people would look at the history of Venezuela, and the movement social democracy in South America before deciding if Chavez should have been made into a bete noir by American interests.   Clearly his record has be distorted by forces which would prefer his country return to its status as a US client state and oligarchy.
  •  Chavez proved Socialism actually works (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SilentBrook, katiec, winnerforlife

    Hugo Chavez had one advantage others didn't though - The Rich and Corporations could not take the vast oil wealth of Venezuela when the fled to Miami.  All the Rich People could do is try to get Bush and Cheney to go in and take Venezuela's oil.

    Chavez just defiantly and valaintly told Bush and Cheney to come on down - send your army and he would be waiting for them.  

    Cheney tried desperately numerous times to overthrow the legimately elected President of Venezuela.  Chavez beat him every time.  Anmd when Cheney finally croaks and gets up there, Chavez is going tio tell St. Peter he Cheney reeks of Sulphur.

  •  Hugo's a threat to globalists, that's why they lie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about him.  I doubt that he did one tenth of what they say he did.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up! CLIMATE CHANGE: The era of procrastination, half-measures & delays is coming to an end; In its place we are entering a period of consequences!

    by Churchill on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 11:01:44 AM PST

  •  USA NeoCons say he stole 2 billion dollars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what a huge lie.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up! CLIMATE CHANGE: The era of procrastination, half-measures & delays is coming to an end; In its place we are entering a period of consequences!

    by Churchill on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 11:02:07 AM PST

  •  USA Capitalism HAS FAILED, esp. the bottom half (0+ / 0-)

    the bottom half of the US population has little savings or net worth.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up! CLIMATE CHANGE: The era of procrastination, half-measures & delays is coming to an end; In its place we are entering a period of consequences!

    by Churchill on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 11:03:00 AM PST

    •  It depends on how you define "failed" (0+ / 0-)

      Are people risking their lives to sneak into the US?

      Or are they risking their lives to sneak into Venezuela?

      Venezuela has better beaches, less racism and baseball tickets are cheaper.

      •  it's failed 120 million in USA w/ZERO net worth (0+ / 0-)

        80 % of Success is Just Showing Up! CLIMATE CHANGE: The era of procrastination, half-measures & delays is coming to an end; In its place we are entering a period of consequences!

        by Churchill on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 06:06:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  But could it have continued? (0+ / 0-)

    Oil production was dropping, in large part due to cutting investment at PdVSA, the state oil company. The oil company was used as a cash cow to cover other needs such as housing.

    •  Well I guess (0+ / 0-)

      we will see what happens from here on. They do need to invest more in oil production so that was definitely a mistake. But I think for the millions of poor who have finally seen some tangible benefits from the oil wealth, I think they would say it was worth it.

  •  Chavez leaves a fortune of $2 billion (0+ / 0-)

    "The Obama Administration has been an unmitigated disaster" - Osama Bin Laden

    by Explorer8939 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 11:38:47 AM PST

  •  Venezuela is in sad shape (0+ / 0-)

    Over the last 10 years or so, the country's condition has degraded significantly. You can see it in the roads, the cities, the overall infrastructure.

    I don't know what happened to the oil money, but I suspect that most of it has disappeared into private hands.

    "The Obama Administration has been an unmitigated disaster" - Osama Bin Laden

    by Explorer8939 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 11:41:42 AM PST

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