“Maduro is an authoritarian leader who has presided over unfair elections, failed economic policies, extrajudicial killings by police, food shortages and cronyism with military leaders”
The problem with this comment, beyond the fact that some of it is highly misleading, is that it frames the situation in such a way so as to concede a large amount to people like Guaidó, and it places blame on the government in such a way that is not at all accurate. I don’t say that so as to say Maduro and those around him are free of blame, which they aren’t. Yes, Maduro is corrupt, and so are some around him. Yes, the government has failed to diversify the economy, and yes there has been mismanagement. But, are any of these problems new in Venezuela? The right is thoroughly corrupt, and their corruption in the past is how they largely got rich. Inflation is an issue, but it was worse in the years directly leading into Chavez than it was during his time. The hyperinflation started years after he died, and it coincided with the intensification of the economic war. Diversifying the economy is a problem, but it is difficult to diversify an economy like Venezuela’s. If you look at other major oil producing countries, they too heavily rely on oil exports. Well over 80% of export revenues in Saudi Arabia comes from oil, and Iran gets the overwhelming majority of its export revenues from oil. And dependence on raw material exports is near universal within developing countries. The IMF has said that about two thirds of developing countries rely on a small handful of raw material exports for at least 60% of their export revenue. It is hard for developing countries to develop productive capacity in value added industries. Haiti and Guatemala will likely not ever be in a position to have private or public industries that are able to compete with Apple, or Ford, or Samsung, for example. That goes into the types of policies that have been historically used by countries to develop, compared to the policies the IMF or the WTO forced on countries now, which is almost always the exact opposite of what countries have done to develop. China, for example, has developed by radically violating those rules, and China is far more “socialist” than Venezuela ever was. Then there is the massive debt bomb in the developing and underdeveloped countries, which people like Éric Toussaint has written a lot about.
Venezuela’s economy shrunk by 26% between 1980 and 1998, and as the country came more and more under the control of the IMF, riots and coups ensued. Over half of households were living in extreme poverty as of the mid 1990’s, inflation was massive and the oil wealth was only going to very narrow sectors. Then, there is the horrific sanctions. The former UN rapporteur, just visited Venezuela, and he says that the US economic war amounts to crimes against humanity (link below).
So, given this, how fascistic the right like Guaido is, given their undemocratic record, why would Ro Khanna frame things in that way? Again, it gives a distorted view of the situation and places a lot of Venezuela’s struggles on the government in a way that is simply not accurate. Yes, the government deserves blame, but at the same time, which developing country would not be collapsing because of what we are doing? As I have said recently on this site, Venezuela’s neighbor, Colombia, is already a human rights horror show. It already has massive problems, its human rights record is the worst in Latin America, and Colombia has gotten more aid from the US than any country in the world, outside of Egypt and Israel. What would Colombia’s economy look like if we did to it what we have done to Venezuela, and why does no one mention their much human rights record, which they do with large US support (we also played a major role in creating their death/squad, paramilitary system)?