Hugo Chavez was an incompetent, communist dictator, who wreaked havoc on Venezuela’s ability to produce goods and services
Last year, Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, died.
How do I know that Chavez was a dictator?
Because only a dictator would use the military to seize food from private owners.
How do I know that Chavez was incompetent?
Because only a complete incompetent could create a shortage of gasoline in a country that has some of the world’s biggest oil reserves.
How do I know that Chavez was a communist?
Because only a communist would label toilet paper as a “luxury.”
Hugo Chavez did all of those things, plus a whole lot more.
Here are plenty of examples:
From 2003 until his death a decade later, Chavez had been setting strict price controls on food, and these price controls caused shortages and hoarding.
In January 2008, Chavez ordered the military to seize 750 tons of food that sellers were illegally trying to smuggle across the border to sell for higher prices than what was legal in Venezuela.
In February 2009, Chavez ordered the military to temporarily seize control of all the rice processing plants in the country and force them to produce at full capacity, which they had been avoiding in response to the price caps.
In May 2010, Chavez ordered the military to seize 120 tons of food from Empresas Polar.
In March 2009, Chavez set minimum production quotas for 12 basic foods that were subject to price controls, including white rice, cooking oil, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, cheese, and tomato sauce. Business leaders and food producers claimed that the government was forcing them to produce this food at a loss.
Chavez nationalized many large farms.
Chavez said of the farmland:
“The land is not private. It is the property of the state.”
Some of the farmland that had been productive while under private ownership became idle under government ownership, and some of the farm equipment sat gathering dust. As a result, food production fell substantially.
One farmer, referring to the government officials overseeing the land redistribution, stated:
“These people know nothing about agriculture.”
Chavez seized many supermarkets from their owners. Under government ownership, the shelves in these supermarkets were often empty.
In 2010, after the government nationalized the port at Puerto Cabello, more than 120,000 tons of food sat rotting at the port.
In May 2010, after price controls caused shortages of beef, at least 40 butchers were arrested, and some of them were held at a military base and strip searched by police.
Chavez’s price controls caused shortages of materials used in the construction industry.
As a result of Chavez’s nationalizations of the steel and cement industries, production fell substantially. Nationwide production of steel rods declined 20 percent in September 2010 compared with a year earlier. Cement output fell 40 percent in the second half of 2009. These shortages caused new housing construction in 2010 to fall to less than half that of the previous year.
In 2010, the government’s mismanagement of the nationalized oil industry was so severe that the country actually had to import gasoline, despite having some of the hugest oil reserves in the world.
Also in 2010, the government’s mismanagement of the nationalized electricity industry caused shortages of electricity.
In December 2006, the Venezuelan government instituted a 15% tax on imported toilet paper, which it described as being a “luxury.”
Chavez shut down a private TV station that had criticized him.
Because of Chavez’s criticism and legal attacks against the productive members of his country, the country experienced a substantial brain drain. Doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, business owners, software developers, advertising account executives, scientists, classical musicians, and lawyers fled the country.
Of this brain drain, Investor’s Business Daily wrote
“Chavez talks a lot about Venezuela being a rich country, and extols its vast oil wealth. But the human capital he is throwing out is far more valuable… He’s throwing away his country’s biggest treasure.”