If you have missed recent news about the ongoing struggle in Venezuela, I suggest you take a look.
Last week, the power was shut off across the country. Most of the country has now been without power for 5 days. Today, Venezuelans converged upon a polluted river in Caracas to find water.
The U.S. is pulling diplomats out of the country amidst what is now a growing national chaos.
Still, embattled dictator/president, Nicolas Maduro, is taking an iron-fisted approach in his attempt to keep power.
How bad has it been?
Two weeks ago, the U.S. sent humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people. Trucks filled with rice, beans, sugar, salt, water and medicine, were sent to Caracas to provide relief to people starving in the streets.
But it never got to the people.
Maduro blocked the aid, by having military members loyal to him fire tear gas on hungry and ill citizens desperately waiting to receive the relief.
The aid was intended to help Venezuelans suffering through an economic collapse that has led to widespread starvation, disease and an exodus of more than 3 million people.
But blocking the aid was not all Maduro did. The military members actually opened fire on his own citizens. Four of them were killed. 285 injured. 37 hospitalized.
Maduro’s forces then burned the trucks to the ground, incinerating all of the aid.
A ship carrying humanitarian aid from Puerto Rico had to abandon the area after threats of bombardment from the Venezuelan navy.
Maduro was captured on camera dancing in celebration following the destruction of the aid trucks.
I had the privilege of traveling to Venezuela 30 years ago. I was with my friend, Harold Reynolds, and two other pro baseball players. We held baseball clinics in stadiums across the nation, and then spoke to different crowds of people in a variety of settings.
I’ll never forget our first clinic. We entered the stadium where a militia of armed soldiers surrounded the facility. It was a sight we would see repeated in each location.
They were not there because of an anticipated Beatles-like reception for us. They were there because of the threat of social unrest even back then. The nation, with such vast resources, was quite poor at the time, but a far cry from today.
During my stay in Venezuela, I stayed with a wonderful family, who made me feel like I was one of them. They had three teenaged daughters who became like younger sisters to me during my stay. One of them, the youngest, acted as my assistant. She carried bags and props for me and helped me with everything I needed. She and her older sister helped me with parts of the language I could not recall. When I flew back to the U.S., there was no certainty that I would ever connect with this family, or my new sisters, again.
Until the rise of social media.
Last year, the oldest sister found me last year on LinkedIn and reached out. Since then, I have reconnected with both the oldest and youngest sisters. Of all things, I learned that that sweet teen who once carried my bag for me, now lives in the U.S. She and her husband make their home in my home state of Texas, of all places.
The picture below is of my “little sister” and me being reunited a few months ago, after 30 years.
Did I share all this just to tell you a heart-warming story? No. I share this because her experience relates to the overall posit on Venezuela.
As we got caught up the day of the photo, she told me of the terrible conditions she and her family faced in Venezuela before fleeing the country. She recounted the poverty, starvation and health crises she and her family faced, along with millions of other Venezuelans, which has resulted in the mass exodus to neighboring nations. She talked of the fear people constantly live under and how many have lost their lives. And, she expressed her fear for her family’s safety, as she and her sister (also living abroad), continually try to get the rest of their family out of the country.
The above paragraph does not adequately capture the emotion of my friend, nor of the situation itself. When we in America read about the situation there, we are somewhat removed from the human aspect of what these people are going through. It is a human tragedy.
So, what’s your point, Steve?
Glad you asked.
The point of this is that Venezuela is a profound picture of the result of socialism.
Venezuela, once one of the most oil-rich nations on the planet, was the model of how socialism was going to work. At least, that is what progressives told us. With such deep resources, the country would show the world a socialist model to follow… until it all fell apart, and as we took a closer look, we realized that socialism never worked there.
In fact, did not work is putting it lightly. The result has been devastation, desertion and death.
Sadly, this is what some candidates for president of the United States and members of our congress want to feed us. Their plan for the most economically successful and most giving country on the planet is for us to follow the path of Venezuela.
They won’t say that directly, of course. They just keep the focus on free college, free medical care and payment even if you don’t work. Yet, when asked about Venezuela…
As the great philosopher, Mary Poppins once sang, A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
While the theory of free stuff, money for everyone, and healthcare for all tickles the ears (I like free stuff, too), the reality of the practice of this doctrine is what we see right before our eyes south of us.
So, a word of caution. Rather than just swallowing the sugar, you might want to inspect the medicine first. Check for the side effects. You can see them, clearly, in a patient named Venezuela.