The Venezuelan Lesson

Pib

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As reported by DR1 News yesterday Elena Viyella de Paliza in her speech in front of the American Chamber of Commerce called for all public servants running for office take a leave to make sure that they do not utilize the public resources. His Baldness promptly called it "a disparate" and "figureo" (folishness and showing off). The independent press have been all over the case, a comentator even suggested Hipo buy a thesaurus as his insults are becoming too repetitive.

I believe the business class in the DR has been way too soft with the government, even when we've seen the face of people that rarely stood in the public light before (E. Leon, for example). In direct contrast with what happened in Venezuela where the businessmen/women took the lead in the fight against Chavez we've seeen here that the businessmen attitutide can be classified anywhere between tepid and mild.

Did they learn from Venezuela where so far the score stands at Chavez: 2 Business class: 0? Is theirs the correct choice?
 
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Ken

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Yes, Pib, I believe their choice was the correct one. I was in Venezuela when Chavez was elected President. At that time there were many members, though certainly not a majority, of both the business and middle class that supported him because they believed what he said about ending corruption. But the vast majority of his supporters were the poor, by far the largest single group of voters in the country.

Although Chavez may still be ahead in the box score, his standing in the country and the world is much different today, and there is a real chance that there will be a referendum to end the virtually president for life legislation he was able to ram through in the early days. I think that the pressure of the business class has made a big contribution toward this change.

Personally, I think the DR needs more vigorous and vocal leadership to focus the people on the terrible abuses they are experiencing and the abuses of those in power who are interested only in themselves.

I don't see much hope of real progress toward remedying the ills of this country, no matter which party wins the election, unless the business class unites, commits itself to a much better country for everyone, and uses its financial, intellectual, and other resources to push the parties and the country in the right direction.

It won't happen over night, as it hasn't in Venezuela, but it will never happen here unless more effort is made.
 

Texas Bill

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History teaches us that corrupt officials, greedy political leaders, and tyrannical administrations go too far, the population will overthrow that situation and replace it with another. Although some of the replacements aren't much better than those they replace, the populations, never-the-less, have expressed themselves and the results have been that a little bit better system is put in place.
Let us not compare the success of the American Revolution with the aspirations of some present day "South-of-the-border" countries, who labor under over 2000 years of Roman and Ottoman examples of governing. Either purposely, or by ommission, students are not taught the history of political philosophy in a manner that they fully understand the ramifications of each subdivision and operation. Perhaps it is because many have not yet truly reached the age of reason, or perhaps it is the fault of the instructors(I hesitate to use the term "Teacher") for not making the subject matter more interesting.
Don't mistake my allusion to the American system as being perfect. It definitely is not. It, also, has it's share of corrupt officials, deal makers, etc. In the long run, however, the voice of the people is listened to by the Senators and Representatives which serve them. The Civil Service System( which in the begining was much like that of DR, being full of nepotism and inept administrators) which now consists of full time workers in each department, and who hold their position after passing written examinations.
This has gone too far, so forgive me.
Texas Bill
 

Hillbilly

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I really was surprised at the comments

And I think that waht got His Baldiness all bothered was the fact that there was a cry of approval at the luncheon and a general applause all over the country by any person reading her comments in the papers. The crowning blow might have come when one newspaperman suggested that Elena take a much larger role in the civilian leadership of the country, but without getting into politics....

Must have scared the bejesus out of his Emptiness and his team of economic losers.

HB
 

Pib

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Bringing this one from the dead...

I could have started a new one but this post is relevant.

The question remain unanswered. Is the bussiness class afraid of acting? Have His Brainlessness scared them to the point of inaction? Have he bullied them into talking what's coming their way?

Another question: Is Dastardly Dastard in charge of economic policies now? :confused:
 

Texas Bill

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The political/economic in the DR today is, in a way very similar th that which existed in post-WWI in Germany. The Weimer Republic was ineffective in solving the economic problems besetting it and had lost control of the country to the National-Socialists under Hitler. His administration's actions were to take over the basic industries(with a few exceptions) and to run the country thru intimidation and allusionary bigotry against the Jewish population. Trujillo and ilk used some of the same tactics toward the same ends. Other administrations have done the same thing. I think many of the business community see the way the country is going (absolute control by a few) but hold reservations as to how to stop the chain of events taking place. It will remain a problem to be solved by public reaction in the not to distant future.

Texas Bill
 

Chris

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Another take on the subject - The business class is busy doing business - they will react to what the government offers them in a business manner - but will not try to change it. They will take their business elsewhere, adapt to the conditions, go out of business or change their businesses.

I don't think this will be 'public' reaction as such - I think one must watch the trends to see what the business community will do.

This stuff to the business community is just "noise"... just another thing to deal with. If this noise continues, businesses will move, to Panama, to Singapore, to other business friendly environments. It won't be a quick exit, but a slow trend which will gather momentum - one or two of the larger outfits will move first "to show the way" and the smaller ones will follow because of necessity. The business community also needs one another to provide products and services.

I will take a bet that "the feasibility of domiciling in another jurisdiction" or something with an equally lofty title, is a study on every responsible business manager's desk right now.

I've thought of a couple of simple trends that one can watch to see what is happening - the employment numbers, the export numbers. If business decides to leave, you'll see a slow decline as they ramp up in another place.
 
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ltsnyder

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Do we even know what happened in Venezuelan?

From what I have read, Venezuelan sounds close to a communist revolution, comon comments from the disenfrachised business group is that Cuban advisors have been brought in to among other things to provide expertise to break strikes, etc, and many of the poor of the country hate the business class for trying to remove Chaves (along with claims of US sponsered coos (well something like that)). Could some one (with close to personal experience) tell me what is going on.
As far as I know Venezuelan is pumping oil with fewer and fewer problems and the volume is increasing, and Venezuelan has not defaulted on any IMF World Bank loans like Argintina has.

Editted to add: I have not found any in english news source that focuses on Venezuelan.

-Lee
 
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Texas Bill

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While it may be a matter of official US Policy not to interfer with the internal policies of another country, my personal feeling is that MUCH can be done in support of US businesses through the medium of in-place Consulates and Embassies. Other countries most certainly have intensive lobbies in the US Congress, so why not demand that the US Government do the same.
Such action would also serve as a pipeline back to the US Congress when it came to approving loans, aid, etc., etc.
As an International provider of aid, loans, military support, the US has no peer. It should be that they lead the world in un-corrupt governing (I say this with tounge in cheek) and in built in checks and balances of the beaurocratic operations.
Many other countries have derided the US for some of it's policies, but only in a very low key approach. I think they realize that the interferences have been minimal and in the best interest of the country concerned.
Now, before all of you beat me up vocally, let me say this...
I know that the US has many, many shortcomings, chiefly by leaving the impression that their way is the best and no other will work: that we're an arrogant bunch of do-gooders who deride everything not American; that everone else is a "foreigner" no matter where we are. And that image of "The Ugly American" is prevelant throughout the world. Bear in mind that UA is looking at you and your society in light of his own in the US, not relative to your own (which he probably doesn't understand anyway).
I am NOT attempting to apologize for anything, just trying to explain.

Texas Bill
 

XanaduRanch

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I think that's a point worth repeating Bill that is often lost.

Everybody tends to look at tanks, bombs, airplanes, etc. But the true power of the United States lies in its economic muscle. And that far exceeds its military's advantages over the rest of the world.

This is not bullying. It's just business. I don't think much of it is even a conscience effort on the part of some evil capitalist cabal. It's just people wanting better lives for themselves by seeking opportunities to make money for themselves, their families, and their stockholders.

And IMHO everyone benefits, not just those companies, but the host countries to the business and their people as well. Even more so because the economic differences are so much more pronounced that even a little influx of wealth has a huge impact.

Tom (aka XR)
 

ltsnyder

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Venezuela and Chavez and what???

Can someone explain to me what Chavez did that the business class is so against? I am really missing something here? Did he:

1) Raise taxes for the top 20% via realestate tax or income tax?

2) Did he fail to cut taxes like the business class wanted?

3) Did he change laws to make it impossible to do business?

4) Did he raise import/export taxes?

I mean, I hear all these claims to a solution and "what the business class should do about the similar situation in DR", but I see no correlation and see no evidence any one know of any one act that Chavez did that was bad (besides election law, which is not a direct complaint? or is it? is that the only problem?). Please explain this too me, I've been looking up news on Venezuela , and yes it seems about 70 - 80% of the business class is against him (but the business class is only 20% of the population). I see statements about bringing in Cuban doctoers, and incapacitating the military to prevent another coo, but can some one explain to me what he did that was soo bad?

I'm not trying to be antagonistic, I'm just plain ignorant (and please do not dwell on that point).

-Lee
 

Porfio_Rubirosa

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To respond to Pib, if the Grullons are going along with the Hippo (and all appearances are that they are) despite the collapse of the banking industry and diversion of trade away from the banking industry by the government, then you can bet that the business sector is terrified.

As for what Chavez has done wrong, well, shall we start with an economy that contracted by an astounding 40% last year. How about his seizure of Polar/PepsiCola.

The Venezuelan political class deserved what has come to it. Unfortunately for the regular Venezuelans, Chavez is too dim witted to be the solution.

The Venezuelan political class should kill the Dominican political class, and then they should hang for it!
 

ltsnyder

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ok, but hold on a minute . . .

Porfio_Rubirosa said:
To respond to Pib, if the Grullons are going along with the Hippo (and all appearances are that they are) despite the collapse of the banking industry and diversion of trade away from the banking industry by the government, then you can bet that the business sector is terrified.

As for what Chavez has done wrong, well, shall we start with an economy that contracted by an astounding 40% last year. How about his seizure of Polar/PepsiCola.

The Venezuelan political class deserved what has come to it. Unfortunately for the regular Venezuelans, Chavez is too dim witted to be the solution.

The Venezuelan political class should kill the Dominican political class, and then they should hang for it!
During that year you quote the economy contracted, he staved off a coo attempt, and the business class basically shutdown the oil industry for at least 4 - 5 months, I'd imagine that would contribute a lot to the economic contraction.

Seizing Polar/Pepsico is not something that would put 80% of the business class against him, and the business class was against him before the economy contracted. So my question still stands (although modified), what did he do . . . .. initially to start the business class revolt? I really don't understand.

-Lee
 

Keith R

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Lee,
If you're interested in hearing the business sector's current litany against President Chavez in Venezuela, follow the link provided below. It is a presentation recently given here in Washington by the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Venezuela. I've seen other presentations in Spanish, but in English this is about as complete a description of complaints as you'll find in writing.
Regards,
Keith
American Chamber of Commerce Presentation on Venezuelan Business Climate
 

ltsnyder

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Thank you very mush for the link, as far as I can see . . . .

Tow points see to clarify reasons for the initial business class strike:

In late 2001, forty nine laws were dictated by President
Chavez based on Enabling powers granted to him by the
National Assembly, which compromise property rights in
different areas. In signing these laws, the President did not
comply with a constitutional obligation to consult with civil
society and the National Assembly when enacting laws
adopted under an enabling act.
and then the immediate following point:

Enactment of these laws led to intensified political conflict
in Venezuela, and the first strike called by national
business organizations. Despite Presidential assurances
after the events of April 2002, these laws have not been
modified to eliminate features that inhibit doing business
in Venezuela.
This seems to indicate a revolt by the business class against land reform laws put into place.

Do we really need to worry about land reform laws in the DR? I mean I'd imagine that would be a communist leaning government would put into place, Hippo is anything but, I mean sure every one will be poor and the military will enforce calm, but this seems to be the opposite end of the spectrum from Chaves.

-Lee
 

Porfio_Rubirosa

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Lee,

Here's another article for you: http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1846180

I note that you did not comment on most of the article written by the American Chamber of Commerce - like the parts about seizing of private property for resale by the military, the collapse of the court system, the drastic restrictions on foreign exchange and the new restrictions on foreign ownership. Your ignoring this makes me wonder if you are trying to state a point in support of Chavez and, if you are, I wish you would get to it already.

There is good reason to despise the former and future ruling class in Venezuela. They have managed to impoverish 70% of the country despite being blessed with loads of petroleum.

If you are looking for a parellel between Chavez and Hippo, the only ones I can think of are this: (1) Gross ineptitude in governance and indifference to macroeconomic policy is bad for business; and (2) If a government is going to do that and remain in power, it helps to put the Army first.
 

ltsnyder

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I note that you did not comment on most of the article written by the American Chamber of Commerce -Porfio_Rubirosa
I also noted that you did not comment on the "general strike" lead by the business class and the effect it had on the economy. A referendum is a democratic process, a coup supported by businessmen and a "strike" where strikers are damaging equipment any way they can, so it will take months to fix, and others will "feel thier pain" is not democratic. When trying to figure out how all this started, you have to look before the "strike" and the "coup". Why did I quote the first two only, because they seemed to state why the first stike occured in the first place (take your time, read them again). Seems like eveybody is quoting or miss-quoting articles :

As for what Chavez has done wrong, well, shall we start with an economy that contracted by an astounding 40% last year.
-Porfio_Rubirosa
While the article you point me too, to show how bad Chaves is states:

Contraction during 2002 was over 9% (our previous
historically worst economic contraction).
Now should I assume your making innocent errors, you can post a correction in your next post, or site the true articles your drawing your information from. Did any one else catch that mistake?

But even when you get past that, why would Chaves be blamed so directly for that contraction, again , same quote from Porfio_Rubirosa :

As for what Chavez has done wrong, well, shall we start with an economy that contracted by an astounding 40% last year.
-Porfio_Rubirosa
WHile again the same souces he directs me too, state clearly:

BY ANY standard, it is a staggering figure: Venezuela's economy contracted by 29% in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year. That spells hardship for millions of Venezuelans.
Much of the GDP shrinkage is the result of a two-month general strike, a failed bid by the opposition to oust President Hugo Ch?vez. This shut down the vital oil industry in December and January, just when prices were high. Oil output is now almost back to normal.

Edited Correction: While Porfio_Rubirosa is stating he is refering to 2002, his % contraction is closer to the first quarter of 2003, so if he did refer to that (1Q 2003), then it again needs to be compared to the article he supplied.


Seeing the waters are so muddled, it seems nesissary to go back to the begining, and find out how this all started. It seems like a major issue was land reform.

One thing (amoung many , I'm sure), that Porfio_Rubirosa and I are in agreement about, is that the situations in DR and Venezuela are not the same.

I'm really just trying to learn, and poking holes in contradictions made by Porfio_Rubirosa , seems like the best way to do it.

You stated the Chaves govenment was: "seizing of private property for resale by the military" could any one elaborate? Is this again getting back to land reform?

Again "the collapse of the court system" seems like at least partially a land reform issue also, because part of the legal failure was the granting of title to squatters. Did Venezuela have any squatters rights laws before? I know squatting is a valid (read legal) way to obtain land in the DR.

-Lee
 
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Porfio_Rubirosa

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Get To The Point, Please

Lee,

Good for you, Lee. You caught an error. The Venezuelan economy shrank an unheard of 29% in a single quarter rather than 40% in a year, as I had stated. But for your point to be interpreted as anything other than sniping, you must make the case that the fact that the contraction was 29% in a single quarter rather than 40% in a year somehow trumps the explicit points from AMCHAM and The Economist that Chavez financial governance is inept.

Instead your argument was clouded. You were more interested in exploiting my incorrect statement (though it was correct in principle) to the disadvantage of your other argument: That the business class is responsible for the economic contraction because it opposed Chavez from the outset even though Chavez originally did nothing overtly against business interests other than seize the national oil company.

But let's look at the parts of the article that you again chose to ignore:

"Officials admit that the agency set up to administer the controls was incompetent; it was recently placed in the charge of the Finance Ministry. But opponents see the dollar shortage as a deliberate ploy to strangle what is left of Venezuela's private sector ... But what it has done is to continue Venezuela's deindustrialisation?one of Mr Ch?vez's main gifts to his country. Six out of ten of the manufacturing businesses in existence when the president was first elected in 1998 have since shut down, according to the industrialists' association ... But as the strike recedes, three out of four respondents now tell pollsters that the government is primarily to blame for the economy's collapse ... Eventually, his economic mismanagement may catch up with Mr Ch?vez, eroding the loyalty of all but his most fanatical supporters, including Lee" (last two words edited for affect).


Lee, I have no problem if you are a Hugo Chavez supporter, a Castroista or a Communist. It's just that you have to say so for us to have an intelligent argument and for you not to look like a sniping p_ssy.

You posted that you did not understand the Venezuela situation and were merely looking for articles to help you understand it. When these articles were provided to you, you decided to torture them to place blame away from Chavez - highlighting only those parts that matched your hypothesis (again, that the business class and not Chavez are responsible for Venezuela's financial collapse because the business class never gave Chavez a chance and sought to dispose of him right off) and derided any comments critical to Chavez.

But you're just an innocent in the wilds looking for any info on Venezuela because there is so little out there "in English", right??? Wasn't that what you said in your original post?

Please explain this too me, I've been looking up news on Venezuela , and yes it seems about 70 - 80% of the business class is against him (but the business class is only 20% of the population). I see statements about bringing in Cuban doctoers, and incapacitating the military to prevent another coo, but can some one explain to me what he did that was soo bad?

I'm not trying to be antagonistic, I'm just plain ignorant (and please do not dwell on that point).

-Lee [/B]


Lee, I have no horse in this race, but, despite your misleading quote above, you apparently do. IN FACT, YOUR POST EXPOSES YOUR PRE-LOADED PRO-CHAVEZ POSITION.

ltsnyder said:

part of the legal failure was the granting of title to squatters. Did Venezuela have any squatters rights laws before? I know squatting is a valid (read legal) way to obtain land in the DR.

-Lee
HOW DO YOU KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT "SQUATTERS RIGHTS" AND "LAND REFORM", ANYWAY. YOU SAY YOU ARE "JUST TRYING TO LEARN", BUT THE ARTICLES PROVIDED TO YOU MENTION NOTHING ABOUT EITHER OF THESE TOPICS.

Weren't you disingenuous!

The difference between you and me is that I'll be up front about that, while you choose to hide in the shadows and, when you do come forward, misrepresent yourself as not having an argument.

Your point is, and, as we NOW know, has always been, that it was the strikes by the business class that led to the economic collapse, and that these were unjustified. Without even going into Chavez' other policies on currency exchange, seizures of private property without due process, prohibitions on foreign investment and the collapse of the civil dispute resolution system, which you say are irrelevant because they came later, your point can only be that the president of a country is NOT responsible for the revolt of an entire segment of the population and that the proper solution to a revolt by the business class is to poison the environment for business.

Ironically, Lee, I might have been receptive to your point about whether Chavez originally did anything to deserve the revolt by the business class did you not decide to provide it in "bushwack" format. Oh, I'm sorry, you don't have a point, right ... babe in the woods and all that?

Lee, I pointedly asked you to get to your point. I want to hear all about how class upheaval, massive economic contractions and restrictions on foreign investment are good for a country. Workers of the world, unite, and all that. If you would just come out of the shadows, we could have a fair debate.
 
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ltsnyder

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What to say to that . . . . . .

Porfio_Rubirosa I am not a cummunist, Casto supporter or any of those other things you claim, I can't see how those accusations can aid this debate. I do feel that economys are dependent on oil and gas and that the effect of the strike had a dramatic effect on the economy of the country.

I said it before, and I'll say it again, the question in my mind is why did the business class strike in the first place? Before the economic contraction? Pointing to the economy after a coup attempt and a major stike is not clear cut, and I saw contradictions that I felt I had to point out.

That the business class is responsible for the economic contraction because it dared oppose Chavez
The article you pointed me too, said this, are you now saying your own evidence is inaccurate?

The issues I keep bringing up, that seem to be ignored is the land reform issue, can you talk about this? I mean I don't want a who did what on an economic collapse till I here about the land reform actions he has pushed though, any discussion with out it would be ignoring a major issue.

I'll try to respond to your points, but please remmeber to talk about the land reform issue (in detail if possible).

Lee, I have no horse in this race, but you apparently do (how do you know so much about "land reform" and "squatters rights", anyway?). The difference between you and me is that I'll be up front about that, while you choose to hide in the shadows and, when you do come forward, misrepresent yourself - almost as if you were a communist. Hmmm.
Q > How do I know about land reform?

A > I heard it, it is hard to ignore, how can you claim that there is so much information out there on what is happening in Venezuela, and then be supprised about . . . . . ok, I claimed ignorant, but I did hear some tidbits that land reform was a major issue, from what you have showed me, I still believe it is a major issue, and strangely enough I have found no articles on that action of Chaves at all, and you seem to have skirted the issue also, maybe I need to do a Yahoo search.

Q > How do I know so much about Squaters rights?

A > If you own land, you'd be a fool not to know.

Lee, I pointedly asked you to get to your point, which you have still not done. I want to hear all about how class upheaval, massive economic contractions and restrictions on foreign investment are good for a country. Workers of the world, unite, and all that. If you would just come out of the shadows, we could have a fair debate.
You assume I have a point other than trying to learn about the situation, in trying to seperate the chaff from the wheat it is important to understand what initiated the class conflict (before the coup and the strike). Are you saying that policies on currency exchange, prohibitions on foreign investment happened before the initial stike? YOur articles did not seem to indicate that.


As far as seizures of private property without due process and the collapse of the civil dispute resolution system arn't these related to land reform where people who owned the land lose it to the poor who squatted the land? and the fact that they can no longer get legal redress it the primary point about the civil dispute resolution system?

I hope I addressed most of your comments.

-Lee
 

Porfio_Rubirosa

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Lee,

I edited my last post just as you were posting. I think you will see some clarifications there.

I understand your question: Did Chavez do anything, other than seize the national oil company, to justify a business class revolt? Did he engage in Hipolito Mejia like policies practically designed to ruin the economy? I don't know. And, unlike you, I truly know nothing about any land reform going on in Venezuela. Again, I have no horse in this race and was merely trying to provide you with an article, as you requested, and summary comment.

I would imagine, though, that seizing the national oil company was enough to forment revolt since anyone who was anyone probably had a stake in it.

But, jeez, enough "exposing contradictions". You're not "exposing" anything! The Economist was very clear that the strike played a major part in the economic collapse, but also very pointedly notes the specific inept economic policies of Chavez that have also acted to destroy the economy. If your point is that the strikes did it all, then The Economist would have you very wrong. And, besides, is not Chavez partially responsible for the strikes (or not reaching a solution to end them)? You know more about land reform and all of that, but, again, the overall disharmony of the place is destroying it.

Why is it so important to you whether Chavez' inept and self-destructive policies occurred before or after the strike? The result is the same.

The fact remains that Chavez has presided over the collapse of the Venezuelan economy, deindustrialization, massive increases in poverty and a class revolt. Is he responsible? I, and 3/4 of Venezuelans, think so, because he clearly lacks the political skill to make the whole country work together. One would have to be very left-leaning to think that any of this is good or will have a positive outcome.
 
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