Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Left and the Venezuelan Crisis

On Twitter Patrick Iber pointed out this op-ed about Venezuela by Anthropologist Claudio Lomnitz, which includes a call for the left to reflect on its enthusiasm for Chavismo.

El segundo pendiente, menos urgente, pero aun así relevante, es la necesidad de una reflexión crítica del caso desde la izquierda internacional, que apoyó con tanto entusiasmo a Hugo Chávez, un caudillo al que se le atribuyeron propiedades taumatúrgicas y hasta divinas, pero cuya magia dependió al final de los altísimos precios de petróleo que lo beneficiaron, y de la quiebra moral del sistema de partidos políticos que precedió su ascenso al poder. 

In many ways, though, death has deflected a lot of criticism from Chávez. Lomnitz specifically says that we can't lay blame entirely at the feet of Nicolás Maduro, but anecdotally that's often what I read. The devout can always claim that Chávez would've handled it better. Maduro himself actually reinforces that by continuing to lionize Chávez desperately, blaming "economic war" instead. It's not oil prices, it's hoarding.

The other response is to argue that perhaps Chávez, but especially Maduro, failed to take the country in a firm socialist direction when they should've. In other words, you don't even talk about oil prices but rather the need to cut capitalism off entirely. Both that and the hoarding argument require avoiding the oil question entirely.


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