A Pinochet could help Venezuela

One hears and reads comments to the effect that Venezuelans "asked for" what they have in the way of strongman government since they voted for it.  This is a woefully shortsighted and uninformed view of what's happening, and what has happened, in the northernmost country of South America.

Hugo Chávez, as Barack Obama here, probably did win his first election reasonably cleanly and fairly.  It's not likely he won fairly after that, and it's certain that Chávez's anointed successor, Nicolás Maduro, did not win fairly in last year's elections.

We've seen this script wherever communism establishes a firm foothold.  Activists spend years, even decades, stirring up resentment in the population against the extant government.  Often there's reason for resentment, but unrefuted lies and limited sources of information set a trap for unsuspecting voters.  The side with the most effective local activism has a big advantage.

The problem, as clearly delineated 40 years ago by Jeanne Kirkpatrick in her famous essay "Dictatorships and Double Standards," is that the communist cure is without exception so much worse than the original disease of ineptitude and old-fashioned corruption.  Communism is not a live-and-let-live system.  It impoverishes the people and countries where it takes root and holds them down ruthlessly, far worse than the old systems ever did.  Those who can will flee, as they are doing now in Venezuela.

This is not what Venezuelans voted for.  Maduro's system, as that of Castro's Cuba and Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua, is thoroughly and systematically corrupt in a way the former system never was.  People could live under the old system.  The economy functioned.  Jobs could be had.  Though poorer and more hardscrabble, life wasn't very different from here in the United States.

Under Maduro, people literally cannot live.  They die from starvation, from lack of clean water, medicines and medical care, electricity, transportation, on and on.  A petroleum-rich country can barely fuel the few private vehicles still on the road.  It is a human catastrophe, not yet on the level of North Korea or 1970s Cambodia but with no reason to expect change for the better from within.

Decades ago, I did my master's thesis on Chile's 1973 military coup d'état.  The literature was rife with academic teeth-gnashing over human rights violations, ghastly abuses of power, the unfairness of it all, how Marxist president Salvador Allende had been freely and fairly elected and nobody voted for the military.  No one had a good thing to say about General Augusto Pinochet, who engineered the coup and stuck around to rule for 17 more  years.

Today we see, in Venezuela, what Pinochet spared Chile.  His coup was indeed violent and lawless, but then so was Allende's government.  Pinochet took out that government and ruled in a no-nonsense manner.  He was responsible for human rights violations that occurred on his watch, and there were many.  He was also responsible for putting Chile's economy on a sound footing for the first time in its history.  On a continent where failing economies are the norm, Chile has only a 6.4% poverty rate.

Nobody in Chile today benefits from anything Allende did.  Everybody in Chile today benefits from what Pinochet did.  He dealt hatefully with hateful people such as Nicolás Maduro.  Innocents suffered.  Innocents always suffer.  Some people will hate him until the end of time, many for good reason.  Others, also for good reason, see beyond personal hatred to what the man wrought long-term for his country.

The verdict is clear: Venezuela needs her own Pinochet.

 

Image: Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional via Wikimedia Commons.

One hears and reads comments to the effect that Venezuelans "asked for" what they have in the way of strongman government since they voted for it.  This is a woefully shortsighted and uninformed view of what's happening, and what has happened, in the northernmost country of South America.

Hugo Chávez, as Barack Obama here, probably did win his first election reasonably cleanly and fairly.  It's not likely he won fairly after that, and it's certain that Chávez's anointed successor, Nicolás Maduro, did not win fairly in last year's elections.

We've seen this script wherever communism establishes a firm foothold.  Activists spend years, even decades, stirring up resentment in the population against the extant government.  Often there's reason for resentment, but unrefuted lies and limited sources of information set a trap for unsuspecting voters.  The side with the most effective local activism has a big advantage.

The problem, as clearly delineated 40 years ago by Jeanne Kirkpatrick in her famous essay "Dictatorships and Double Standards," is that the communist cure is without exception so much worse than the original disease of ineptitude and old-fashioned corruption.  Communism is not a live-and-let-live system.  It impoverishes the people and countries where it takes root and holds them down ruthlessly, far worse than the old systems ever did.  Those who can will flee, as they are doing now in Venezuela.

This is not what Venezuelans voted for.  Maduro's system, as that of Castro's Cuba and Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua, is thoroughly and systematically corrupt in a way the former system never was.  People could live under the old system.  The economy functioned.  Jobs could be had.  Though poorer and more hardscrabble, life wasn't very different from here in the United States.

Under Maduro, people literally cannot live.  They die from starvation, from lack of clean water, medicines and medical care, electricity, transportation, on and on.  A petroleum-rich country can barely fuel the few private vehicles still on the road.  It is a human catastrophe, not yet on the level of North Korea or 1970s Cambodia but with no reason to expect change for the better from within.

Decades ago, I did my master's thesis on Chile's 1973 military coup d'état.  The literature was rife with academic teeth-gnashing over human rights violations, ghastly abuses of power, the unfairness of it all, how Marxist president Salvador Allende had been freely and fairly elected and nobody voted for the military.  No one had a good thing to say about General Augusto Pinochet, who engineered the coup and stuck around to rule for 17 more  years.

Today we see, in Venezuela, what Pinochet spared Chile.  His coup was indeed violent and lawless, but then so was Allende's government.  Pinochet took out that government and ruled in a no-nonsense manner.  He was responsible for human rights violations that occurred on his watch, and there were many.  He was also responsible for putting Chile's economy on a sound footing for the first time in its history.  On a continent where failing economies are the norm, Chile has only a 6.4% poverty rate.

Nobody in Chile today benefits from anything Allende did.  Everybody in Chile today benefits from what Pinochet did.  He dealt hatefully with hateful people such as Nicolás Maduro.  Innocents suffered.  Innocents always suffer.  Some people will hate him until the end of time, many for good reason.  Others, also for good reason, see beyond personal hatred to what the man wrought long-term for his country.

The verdict is clear: Venezuela needs her own Pinochet.

 

Image: Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional via Wikimedia Commons.