CUBAZUELA?

I have blogged a number of times – probably not often enough, though – about Venezuela’s descent from prosperity to political, economic and human rights devastation under hugo chavez’s protege, nicolas maduro.

But as bad as things have been – how’s an 800% inflation rate last year and an estimate that it could double to 1,600% this year for starters – they may well get a lot worse.

Antonio Mora, an emmy-winning journalist who was born in Havana and knows a thing or two about this progression, has written an important, if terribly dispiriting, analysis of where Venezuela is headed at thehill.com.  Here are a few excerpts:

The country’s Supreme Court president is a convicted murderer. A U.S. federal court indicted its minister of the interior for drug trafficking. The U.S. Treasury Department named its vice president a drug kingpin. Two nephews of the nation’s first lady are behind bars, convicted of attempting to transport 800 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. The country’s president faces a lawsuit before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, filed by 100 Latin American politicians, which accuses him of committing human rights abuses.

This seems like a storyline from the TV series “Narcos,” but the influence of Pablo Escobar and his Medellin cartel in 1990s Colombia pales in comparison to the power of today’s Venezuelan dictatorship.

Venezuela has the world’s worst inflation, murderous violence has made it one of the most dangerous places on earth, malnutrition is rampant and children are dying of minor illnesses because they can’t get basic medicines. The country’s economy, already badly weakened by the socialist policies of its former leader, the late Hugo Chavez, was devastated when oil prices plummeted from all-time highs in 2014.

The current president, Nicolas Maduro, and his governing socialist party suffered an overwhelming defeat in parliamentary elections in 2015. But Maduro refused to acknowledge the National Assembly’s powers and used the Venezuelan Supreme Court, packed with Maduro loyalists, to invalidate all congressional actions.

Now, Maduro is trying to cement his power by holding a rigged constituent assembly election. The assembly’s mission would be to adopt a new constitution that would eliminate the opposition-controlled National Assembly, perpetuate Maduro’s hold on power, eliminate any vestiges of democracy and establish a Cuba-style, one-party communist dictatorship.

What a tragedy this is.  Venezuela, not so many years ago, was a showcase South American country.  Prosperous, democratic and stable.

Now?  It is horrifically impoverished, wildly unstable….and about to have its last vestiges of democracy summarily removed.

Please use the link I’ve provided and read Mr. Mora’s entire analysis.  There’s a lot more there – every bit as bad as what you just saw above.  And maduro is not through yet.  He seems determined to hold power by turning what’s left of his country into a larger version of Cuba.

I pity the people there – and hope they find a way to do something about this.

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