Like me, my friend Jose Nino was brought by his parents to the U.S. to live in freedom. He was born in Venezuela and me in Cuba. He came in the 1990s and I came in the 1960s. I guess that people who escape socialist nightmares have a lot of memories in common, from empty shelves to repression to the fear that the knock on the door means that your father is headed to a political prison.
Jose updated us this week about the plight of people in Venezuela. This is what he wrote:
Nearly 2 million Venezuelans have left the country since Hugo Chavez assumed power in 1999. Naturally, their common places of destination — Colombia, Panama, Spain, United States — enjoy significantly higher degrees of economic freedom than Venezuela currently does.
It is small wonder why socialist countries are marked by large diasporas.
As the economist Milton Friedman sagaciously observed, people “vote with their feet” when government policy becomes too oppressive and makes earning a living next to impossible in their country of origin.
The 35,000 Venezuelans that made their way over to Colombia effectively casted a vote of no confidence in Venezuela’s irrational, political system. Instead of waiting in an endless line to buy goods or rely on a black market that has become increasingly co-opted by the government, these brave individuals decided to exercise their liberty as consumers and go to a country with a modicum of economic freedom.
More than just a series of economic transactions, the aforementioned movement of people is a veritable form of civil disobedience. Tyrannical regimes despise a citizenry that votes with its feet and take its talents and purchasing power abroad.
Many seem to overlook that the fall of Berlin Wall was not so much a top-down decision made by political elites, but rather an organic uprising spurred by individuals that were frustrated with the totalitarian status quo. It was the determination of the countless individuals who saw through the illusion of socialism that led to the ultimate collapse of one of the most totalitarian systems that the world has ever seen.
Now it’s Venezuela’s turn to knock down its proverbial Berlin Wall and let economic freedom and the rule of law be the order of the day.
We know that people are seriously lacking food in Venezuela. They rush over to Colombia to look for the basic foodstuffs, from milk to cereals. There are scenes of people confronting soldiers screaming “we want food“.
As this human tragedy unfolds, the world watches. Leaders look at each other wondering who will take the lead and call for some multinational action. Where is the OAS or the UN when we really need them?
Of course, the world looks to Washington and they see a president obsessed with calling Trump “unfit”, releasing Gitmo detainees or issuing memos on transgender bathrooms.
Wonder if Venezuelans think that the detached Obama is fit to be the leader of the free world?
We are not suggesting a U.S. intervention but something has to be done to save the people of Venezuela from this misery. The U.S. could play a huge positive role but it takes leadership, or exactly the ingredient lacking at the moment.