Lifestyles of Rich and Chavista: Venezuela's plutocrats finally draw scrutiny

Venezuela's wealthy elites aligned with the regime are at long last drawing scrutiny as the country's socialist system, with all its shortages, poverty, roaring corruption, infrastructural collapse, and violence, spirals into a living hell.  Reuters has a report here.

CARACAS, June 2 (Reuters) – One is shown blowing a kiss from a private jet. Another is seen posing in front of a store of luxury jeweler Cartier in China. Others grin as they tuck into a plate of lobster or a massive birthday cake.

Venezuelan activists are increasingly posting details of locations and lifestyles of leftist officials and their families, depicting them as thriving off corruption while the population struggles to eat in a devastating economic crisis.

The social media blitzes, targeting officials and their business partners, relatives and even lovers, are another weapon in a wave of huge protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government that began in April.

Reuters doesn't mention it, but this not just a one-off event.  It is the usual and inevitable outcome of socialism, which always leads to a protected class.  As George Orwell outlined so well in Animal Farm, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Daniel Ortega got caught shopping on Fifth Avenue, buying $3,000's worth of designer luxury sunglasses.  Romania first lady Elena Ceauşescu was caught with diamonds on the soles of her shoes.  The Castros own billions in assets in Spain, Italy, Argentina, China.  Two years ago, the late Venezuelan dictator's daughter, Maria Gabriela, was reported to be Venezuela's richest woman, with $4.2 billion in assets.  All of this in a regime that purports to claim that its socialism brings equality for the little guy and, given such virtue, has the right to take away everyone's freedom to enact such equality.  It happens every time, and people need to know it.

In fact, socialism creates the most grotesquely unequal societies, probably in the history of mankind.  Venezuela earned trillions from its oil bonanza during the first decade of this century – and its citizens are starving in the streets, living out of garbage cans, losing an average of 19 pounds due to shortages, eating zoo animals.

Yet for Venezuela's Chavista elites, it's more like this:

Hugo Chávez's 14-year-old daughter Rosines, in an Instagram she posted.

Rosines has the connections (or cash) to pose with Justin Bieber.

From the Instagram page Boliburgueses.

Here's another one, not safe for work, but clearly the one mentioned in the Reuters piece – the daughter of Venezuela's brutal armed forces chief, Vladimir Padrino, and two of her bar buddies, doing their thing.  Captures the Chavista elites in all their essence.

Chavista rich in their red t-shirts from the PDVSA oil elites.  This one poses with his "amorcito," or mistress, living the good life, according to Venezuelan dissidents.

It's good to be Chavista.

Capitalist by night.  Socialist by day.  Chavista elites cover all the bases, as this dissident protest placard in Florida shows.


Quite a few of them living the good life here, too.

As Ezequiel Spector writes in the PanAm Post:

They are rich because the government has awarded them privileges and subsidies, at the expense of the average citizen. That’s 21st-century socialism’s social mobility. They don’t want capitalism, since their socialist system has already made them quite comfortable.

When defenders of the republic call for separation of powers, an independent judiciary, a nonpartisan central bank, and respect for civil liberties, they don’t do it out of a whim or to advance some abstract theory.

They do it because, among other things, they know that is the path to economic progress. They are aware that when those values are upheld, poverty and unemployment rates decrease, upward social mobility picks up, and individual potential is unleashed. They also realize that high concentration of power occur when those values are undermined.

As I read this, I feel emotionally overwhelmed.  As a blogger and writer under different venues, I have been reporting this stuff for years.  The flashing dollar bill parties of the Chavistas.  The Caribbean luxury vacations.  The Miami condo-buying.  The trips to Disneyland.  The Miami shopping trips.  The luxury yachts.  The social whirl and real estate.  These stories extend all the way back to 2004.  Yet they never got all that much traction.  The print press has been quite a bit better on this than the television press, but it hasn't become terribly well known.

In fact, the Media Research Center has reported that Venezuela is a most underreported story of the news networks:

A new study by the Media Research Center found that from March 2013 (after the death of strongman Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez) through May 29, 2017, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows have aired a mere 25 stories, totaling 28 minutes, 39 seconds of coverage – barely 30 seconds per month – to the rapidly worsening situation in Venezuela. In this same time period, approximately 50,000 individual news stories on other topics aired on these broadcasts

Who the heck is extending visas to these people?  Or allowing them to buy Miami condos with their ill-gotten gains?  Which politicians again are taking Chavista money?  These are the inevitable implications that must be addressed at the policy level, given the scope of this grotesque corruption.  It would be enough if the public knew that these are the wages of socialism that promise voters so much paradise – and deliver it, solely for the elites.

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