Vernuccio’s View: The Media’s Strange Silence About Venezuela

There is a reason why the U.S. media downplays the Venezuelan tragedy, in which extreme shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies such as toilet paper are compounded by an authoritarian government that denies essential rights to its citizenry.

By any measure, Venezuela should be one of the planet’s most prosperous nations. An oil producer since 1914, it has, according to OPEC, more oil resources than any other nation. America’s Quarterly notes that “During the 1970s, Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America. With the region’s highest growth rates and the lowest levels of inequality, it was also one of the most stable democracies in the Americas.” It has a diverse, educated population. Axis of Logic  notes that “The standard of education in Venezuela is among the highest in the region. Of Venezuelans aged 15 and older, 93.4% can read and write, one of the highest literacy rates in the region. The literacy rate in 2003 was estimated to be 93.8% for males and 93.1% for females. (Anthony Spanakos reports that a study of the nation indicates  that  it “not only had a relatively well-educated population in the 1980s, but that education increased throughout the period in which growth decreased.”) It faces no significant military threats. Even with the current decline in oil prices, the nation should have an economy that produces, at the very least, a decent standard of living.

But the government in Caracas  has adopted policy choices endorsed by American progressives. National Review  discussed the adulation Hugo Chavez, founder of Venezuela’s socialist path, received from American leftists: “Celebrities came to sit at his feet, with Sean Penn calling him a ‘champion’ of the world’s poor, Oliver Stone celebrating him as ‘a great hero,’ Antonio Banderas citing his seizure of private businesses as a model to be emulated in the rest of the world, Michael Moore praising his use of oil for political purposes, Danny Glover celebrating him as a ‘champion of democracy.’…”

Those socialist policies  produced economic collapse and utter misery for Venezuela’s population.  That fact is far too embarrassing for the left-leaning U.S. media to adequately report on.

Pedro Lange-Churión states “Venezuela was news while it was good news and while Chávez could be used as a banner for the left and his antics provided comic relief. But as soon as the country began to spiral towards ruination, and Chavismo began to resemble another Latin American authoritarian regime, better to turn a blind eye. The position of the Latin American left, then, has been either to suspend a critical stance, or not to address Venezuela’s situation at all.”

As Ana Quintana describes, “In the span of just over 20 years, President Nicolás Maduro, his predecessor Hugo Chavez, and their ‘Socialism of the 21st Century’ have single-handedly destroyed a country sitting atop of the world’s largest oil reserves. The ongoing economic crisis has bankrupted the country, and the International Monetary Fund forecasts that by midyear the inflation rate will hit 1,600 percent. While the nation is home to massive oil reserves, production is at its lowest level in over 20 years…While leader Maduro is widely unpopular, he has managed to stay in office by unlawfully consolidating power. Any doubt about the Maduro regime’s determination to keep power disappeared last month when he ordered the Supreme Court to take over the National Assembly—the last remaining government branch outside of executive control…Currently, Venezuela has over 100 political prisoners, more than even Cuba.”

Allen West asks “…where are the American entertainment elites and advocates of socialism now?…The ugly face of socialism has destroyed the beauty of Venezuela, turning what could be termed a little piece of heaven on earth into hell.”

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, 

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