By Michael Rowan
Let’s acknowledge the unvarnished truth: Those in power in Venezuela feel they got there by a revolution. To them, the 1992 coup attempt was a precursor to the revolution taking over the state six years later. It was never intended to end. The revolution was meant to rule forever. And by forever they mean… forever.
The probability of the revolution ceding power to a successor government lawfully and peacefully is about the same as the likelihood of the moon crashing into earth tomorrow at noon.
Since 1998, the revolution got control of government, politics, institutions, the media, the private sector and society. As checks and balances on power were discarded, more than one trillion dollars passed through the revolution’s hands. At least $350 billion of that is unaccounted for by economists trying to follow the money over the years.
Coincidentally, thousands of revolutionary leaders who were penniless in the 1990s became millionaires, multi-millionaires and a few became billionaires – in US dollars. Unsurprisingly, dozens of well-connected individuals engaged in notorious drug, theft, murder and corruption cases, few of which were acknowledged to exist no less prosecuted by the revolution.
In the last two years, Venezuela’s economy has collapsed. Sitting on more oil than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela’s failure is in the order of Haiti or Zimbabwe but to say so openly is taboo. Starvation, disease, hyperinflation and the worst murder rate in the world are, to the revolution, damnable lies propagated by its evil enemies. Since Venezuelan media is largely gagged, people are not well informed of the totality of devastation in the country, but they know about it personally. Venezuela is like a brain dead patient bleeding to death in an emergency room absent of band aids no less medical personnel.
The country once called Venezuela was militarized, confiscated, propagandized and imprisoned before Chavez died and the dense Maduro came to power. That is why there is no internal solution to the worsening crisis. And that is also why there is no international, diplomatic, external intervention to save lives from starvation, disease and murder: the revolution does not need any help in 2016 just as it accepted none during the Vargas flood of 1999.
Venezuelans are truly on their own, abandoned by their government and the world. They have the same choice as the people of Syria – risk the trek of the refugee or dying of starvation in the heat and dark.
What makes solutions is law. When law no longer functions, power comes from the muzzle of a gun, as Mao said, or from the hand holding the dollars that pay for hand holding the gun. That is where the highest killing rate in the world comes from.
Those guns are controlled by the revolution’s military led by 5,000 generals. The US needs only 400 generals to run the most powerful military force in world history. But it can be argued that Venezuelan generals have a lot more to do. They’ve got government, corruption, oil, industry, agriculture, commerce, banking, cocaine, and criminal syndicates to think about.
It’s not easy keeping track of the money while the infants starve.Michael Rowan is an author and political consultant who has advised presidential candidates throughout Latin America, including Governor Manuel Rosales in Venezuela, President Jaime Paz Zamora of Bolivia and President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica. In the U.S., he has advised winning candidates in 26 states. He has been an award winning columnist for El Universal, The Daily Journal -- predecessor to LAHT -- and the Latin American Herald Tribune since the 1990s. He is the author, with Douglas Schoen, of The Threat Closer to Home - Hugo Chavez and the War Against America.