By Kate Harveston – At first glance, socialism appears to be a dreamer’s humanist philosophy made political, and who doesn’t desire a fair chance for all? However, the effects of this equal opportunity present problems with execution, as is now being observed through the people of Venezuela’s struggle with their government.
At its core, socialism operates from the base of five principles: secular humanism, a nationalization of production, welfare state expansion, social egalitarianism and wealth distribution. A utopia is a dream that only the Grecian Elysian fields or heaven are close to in concept, and literature teaches its readers to be careful of what’s seen on the surface, such as in Lois Lowry’s “The Giver.”
In the end, the utopia fails because of the compromise of individual rights or needs, and the promise of the dream society is shattered. It’s not a dream or your prayers that Venezuela needs now, it is your concern, voice and humanitarian aid.
The Oil Flows, but the Money Doesn’t
During the rise of Huge Chavez to power, many recognized celebrity names came to the country to chase the dream of a utopia, from Sean Penn to Harry Belafonte. Chavez promised to take from the producer class and distribute wealth and good fairly among the masses, yet these producers fled: You can’t play Robin Hood and not face the consequences. Others’ money only lasts so long in a socialist climate, as prior British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once expressed, and money must circulate in a healthy economy.
Due to a wealth of oil resources, Venezuela isn’t exactly bankrupt, but Chavez nationalized the privatized oil companies. Since this change, these companies and their resources aren’t well managed. Venezuela now suffers from one of the highest inflation rates in the world.
During the first few years, bills were paid and malnutrition and poverty were even declining. Money ran out with this approach. Now Venezuela’s economy faces disaster, and the government stopped releasing economic statistics regularly.
A total economic collapse may be in Venezuela’s future as citizens struggle to meet basic needs and face food shortages. The government borrowed $45 billion from China but only sinks farther down the rabbit hole. 2008 seems to be the point where spending and revenue diverged for the country, as oil prices hit a record high and revenue fell — 40 percent of Venezuela’s revenue comes from its oil industry. The Troubled Currencies Project, from researchers at John Hopkins at the Cato Institute, indicated that inflation reached 808 percent in 2015.
The Bliss of Ignorance: Basic Necessities Must Be Met
Chavez held some continued popularity due to charisma until his death in 2013, and since President Nicholas Maduro took over, his answer to most problems has been denial. Is ignorance bliss when your people can’t meet their basic needs?
The oil still flows in Venezuela, but when even government offices are closing most of the week to save electricity, you know there’s a problem. When there are roaches in health care facilities, where roughly 95 percent of materials needed in a hospital are missing, and when babies die in maternity wards or patients in surgery face electrical outages in the operating room — you know there’s a problem. Yet, President Maduro has stated that the Venezuelan health care system is one of the best in the world.
The people are protesting and being disarmed, and nearly 20 have died in protest. As people fled Cuba when Castro tore up the country, some in Venezuela are making their exodus to countries with democratic governments. The 21st-century socialist experiment Chavez conducted has clearly failed, and the Venezuelan government is not recognizing that equal opportunity doesn’t mean the oil floweth and thus follow equal resources for all.
The oil floweth, but the cups aren’t full. The people are thirsty. The people are hungry. The people are angry, and their needs must be met.
If Maduro Doesn’t Care, the World Does
Recently, President Maduro made a request to the United Nations to help regularize their issues with medicine with assistance of their United Nations Development Program (UNDP), but this appeal did not request aid for food shortages nor help from international relief or humanitarian agencies.
The government also reached out to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) for shortages of medication, to discuss acquiring more affordable medicines from suppliers. The government has rationed food but not accepted or called for humanitarian aid when it comes to hunger needs.
Does the Venezuelan government care about its people or not? As tragedy strikes other nations, it’s tempting to ignore what’s not happening in your own backyard, but crisis affects the world at large. As anyone can be homeless, any government is subject to such tragic circumstances. Don’t leave your neighbor out in the cold.
What You Can Do to Help
Contact your representatives, and reach out to these and other humanitarian agencies to speak up.
Continue the conversation on social media outlets to show that the world is talking about these issues and won’t stand for it.
When donating to charities, make sure the supplies or money will get to the proper source in Venezuela by researching charities on Charity Vault for hunger, children, education and other needs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer and blogger with a particular interest in politics. Her work has also been featured in Nation of Change, International Policy Digest and Rebelle Society. She runs a politically-charged blog, Only Slightly Biased.