Venezuela: The Progressive Dream

Sean Penn w Hugo Chavez
Sean Penn with Hugo Chavez

1992: Venezuela became the third richest country in the hemisphere. Socialist Colonel Hugo Chavez makes two coup attempts. Over 120 people killed. Chavez is jailed for two years before being pardoned.

1997: Venezuela becomes the second largest purchaser of the Ford F-150.

1998: Hugo Chavez is elected president promising socialist equality for all. Hollywood and American Democrats praise Chavez.

2001: Chavez starts passing laws to confiscate land and wealth for “redistribution.” Opponents call it a power grab.

2005: Chavez begins mass property confiscations. New Media laws make it illegal to “slander” politicians.Parties loyal to Chavez make gains after opposition boycotts “rigged” election.

2006: Chavez signs arms deal with Russia.

2007: Chavez makes higher education “free.” Confiscates telecommunications companies and energy companies such as Exxon and ConocoPhillips.

2009: Private ownership of firearms banned. Voters approve a referendum abolishing term limits laws allowing Chavez to be “president for life.”

2010:  Further crushing free speech, new laws aimed at critics of the regime are passed. Venezuelan economy begins to implode. Economy shrinks by 5.8% in a single quarter. Chavez devalues the Bolivar.

2012: Bernie Sanders praises Venezuela for achieving the “American Dream.” Chavez extends government price controls to combat inflation, thus lowering supply and exacerbating shortages. Government threatens to nationalize more businesses.

2013: Hugo Chavez dies of cancer, Nicolas Maduro takes over. Opposition contests election result.

2014: Various opposition leaders are imprisoned. At least 28 people killed in protests. Government loses oil revenue due to global market forces. Food and health care shortages become widespread.

2016: Protests against Maduro get larger. Economic troubles continue.

2017: Laws criminalizing the promotion of “fascism, intolerance, or hate” (sound familiar?) on social media allows government to further state control of the internet.

2018: UN says that at least two million have fled Venezuela.

2019: Opposition leader Juan Guaidó declares himself interim president, appeals to military to oust President Maduro claiming the 2018 election was rigged.

2019: Maduro sends armed thugs into the streets to loot and kill unarmed protestors. Average Venezuelan loses 20 pounds due to starvation. Civil society breaks down.

Lessons learned: You can vote your way into socialist/marxist utopia, but you have to shoot your way out.

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