Almost every nation destroyed by socialism, including Venezuela and Cuba, once thought “it will never happen to us.” It did happen to them, and if we’re not careful, it can happen to us.
Venezuelan Socialists Come for America
Don’t let them win.
The nationwide riots that ravaged America during June aren’t new to me. I grew up in Venezuela hearing stories of the 1989 riots that ultimately led to the rise of Hugo Chavez and his socialist regime to power. In America, peaceful protests over the unjust death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police officers turned into violent occupations in Seattle, looting, and killings of civilians and police officers throughout the country. What started as a call for police reform turned into a call to defund the police and then into a call for socialism.
Leftist groups are using the pandemic-induced economic calamity and police brutality as an excuse to push their socialist agenda. But they will only succeed if they persuade just enough American voters, like the Venezuelans before them, to lead themselves down into the dark abyss of government control.
My parents used to tell me about life before socialism, how people in Venezuela weren’t afraid to leave their homes and how we didn’t have problems with food or electricity. I saw how my four grandparents, immigrants who didn’t finish high school, prospered because they worked hard and had freedom. It sounds a lot like America, and they felt that way.
But in the mid-1980s, oil prices plunged. By that point, the country depended on the oil industry more than ever, because successive administrations had stifled private enterprise. This crisis forced the government of then-President Carlos Andres Perez to implement free-market reforms, including reducing subsidies for gasoline in 1989. These were good and necessary policies, but painful in the short term.
On February 27, 1989, the day gas prices increased, one protest broke out near the capital. Within hours, the whole country was rioting. My parents, teenagers then, remember hearing gunshots, watching people loot stores, and feeling overwhelmed with panic for days. As Margarita Lopez Maya recounts in the Journal of Latin American Studies, “In Caracas, the main avenues were taken over by hundreds of demonstrators, smashing shop windows and doors and seizing everything they could lay their hands on.”
International leftist journalists quickly justified the riots as a backlash against the “voracity and luxury” of the rich. True, Venezuela was in a tough economic position. But it wasn’t the Great Depression, and in a free and democratic country, violence is not an acceptable means of change.
Sadly, the residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota are very familiar with the picture I just painted. Their city suffered damages near $500 million due to recent looting and violence. In America’s largest cities, criminals looted stores and vandalized property. And as they did in Venezuela, left-wing outlets disgustingly justified the violence. The Nation even titled an opinion piece “In Defense of Destroying Property.”
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