Left pushes sanctions 'narrative' to explain socialist Venezuela's misery, but here's the real reason

It's been a couple of weeks now, but the Left has finally come together with a "narrative" to explain why socialist Venezuela is so miserable.

In a word: Gringos.  Gringo did it.

Take a look at what's coming out of the supposedly respectable mainstream magazines from the left such as The Nation and The New Republic.

There's this one, saying both sides are at fault here, and sanctions are the worst, so let's all get along now.

There's this one, claiming that sanctions themselves are the cause of Venezuela's misery and are hypocritical to boot, given the imperfections of Latin America's other leaders and democracies, a piece loaded with lies laid thick, with the writer, Mark Weisbrot, going back full force to his old Marx Brainrot persona.

There's this one, claiming that Venezuelans don't want any U.S. help.

There's also this one claiming Venezuelans wouldn't dream of changing their vile socialist government; they just love it too much — from Ken Silverstein, who's also been accused by reputable Venezuelans of links to Fusion GPS.

Can you see a "narrative" being built?  In one sense, it's how the Left is trying to deal with the embarrassment of socialist Venezuela for themselves.

But it's also false.  Are they really saying that the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and its corrupt socialist dictatorship is the root-and-branch cause of why there's no food in the stores, the water runs black, the hospital patients are dying, the power is unreliable, the people are reduced to drinking from sewers and eating zoo animals, the hyperinflation is out of control, the criminals are proliferating, and any claims to democracy in the socialist paradise are an absolute joke?

U.S. sanctions are directed solely at crooks, the crooks making Venezuela the way it is, the people stealing money and hiding it in foreign banks, using it to hold Pablo Escobar money-flinging parties, along with shopping trips to Miami and trips to Disneyworld.  That's why there's no money in the country — and not just from simple stealing, but from the socialist policies that put them on the top, ensuring that they are the only ones who are "allowed" to steal.

And stealing is exactly what's happening.

Deutsche Welle has some impressive reporting on how Chavistas have been stealing money from the country in a piece titled "How millions of 'dirty dollars' were laundered out of Venezuela."  It's an easy-to-understand reading of a topic that normally is an eye-glazer.

It begins of course with the country's only source of hard currency, which is the state-owned oil company, PDVSA:

How did the embezzlement work?  It took advantage of Venezuela's currency exchange rules.

"There are two exchange rates in Venezuela: the national currency, the bolivar, and the US dollar," Malcher told DW.  "The rate of the bolivar to the US dollar is fixed by the central bank."

But not everyone can convert bolivares into dollars, and vice-versa.  Only a few companies can operate an official conversion from bolivares to dollars — including PDVSA.

All those who don't have access to official exchanges must operate on the black currency market, which has very different rates than the official ones.

Bolivares have a much higher value at the official exchange rate than at the black market rate – and the group of fraudsters reportedly exploited both the official and unofficial currency exchange systems.

"The fraudsters had dollars," Malcher explained.  "With the dollars, they bought bolivares on the black market.  They then gave a loan to PDVSA, which paid them back at the official exchange rate" — which resulted in them having many more dollars than what they started out with.

This allowed the group to increase their initial investment tenfold. 

The operation began in December of 2014, and was meant to embezzle $600 million (about €534 million).  By May 2015, the group had been able to double the amount to $1.2 billion (€1.07 billion).

Alek Boyd has much more on the extent of the stealing on his website.  Apparently, one of the enablers of this racket has been the Vatican Bank, which shouldn't come as a surprise.

These kinds of grifters have robbed the oil-rich country blind.  They're why there's no money in the tax coffers, and they're why operations such as the national electrical company's grid has gone black. 

They can't have anything but sanctions slapped on them. Sanctions are good directed at these people — along with arrests.

The problem with calling sanctions the problem, and asking for them to be lifted, is that it lets criminals like these off scot-free, happy to put money in the overseas banks, and happy to party in Miami.  Because they run the country, their vast thievery is impossible to separate from the rubble and ruin that have come to Venezuela as a result.

Why did the Venezuelan power company have no money for basic maintenance?  Ask the government, the one that gets its only dollars from oil and watches its socialist ministers spirit them off to foreign banks for themselves.  Sanctions are the problem?  Sanctions should be lifted for their sake?  As if they're going to take all those stolen billions and return them to the power company if their Disneyworld trips are restored? 

Don't think so.

The reality is, the sanctions are inseparable from the behavior of the people running Venezuela.  They're conducting the customary socialist stealing, and the constraints of sanctions are the consequences — and affect mainly them.  The misery of Venezuela was already accomplished by the socialist thievery.  Lifting sanctions isn't going to make Venezuela any socialist paradise.

Image credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sinthia Rosario, Task Force Lifeliner Public Affairs.