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.

Chavez nationalized key industries, including telephoneelectricity, steel, and cement.

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.”

February 24, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Politics, Venezuela.


  1. HMichael Hawkins replied:

    It seems to me throughout history, when a Nation’s political ideology establishes a Socialistic government — putting the central government in charge of the economy — the quality of life in that country falls dramatically. Why do current and future governments think it will be any different for them? The Nations of Western Europe are losing their place at the top of the world’s economic powers, and their people are experiencing a loss to their quality of life. The USA is following in the path of so many failed Socialist Nations. It just amazes me these liberal philosophies continue to take root in civilized Nations. But, of course,
    “A democracy is always temporary in nature;
    it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.
    A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover
    that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
    From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates
    who promise the most benefits from the public treasury,
    with the result that every democracy will finally collapse
    due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship”
    – Alexander Tyler 1787

  2. Colin Rugg replied:

    Nobody is above criticism, as is true with Chávez. However, let’s take a look at the counter arguments: Incompetent? Under Chávez, unemployment was nearly cut in half (14.5% to 7.6% by 2012,) infant mortality dropped from 20/1000 births to 30/1000, and the country’s GDP more than doubled, from $4,105 per capita in 1999 to $10,810 per capita in 2012. Never before have I heard of such immense progress described as “incompetent.” Not to mention that, despite these food shortages (a serious problem and a valid criticism of his policies) Venezuelan malnutrition dropped under Chávez from 21% to 6%.
    Now was he a dictator? Depends, if you’re one of those poor saps who consider Obama a dictator, maybe it’s a fair comparison. But I don’t consider a man popularly elected five times in a country with an election system that our own former president Jimmy Carter described as “best in the world” a dictator: these were reforms that the majority of the Venezuelan people were for, and reforms which excited the voters to turn out in numbers not seen in the US for decades.
    Finally, your last accusation of him being a communist… well I would put him more in the “socialist” category, because while he nationalized business and supported the public over corporations. But if that’s what you consider communist, then sure. But note that in that case, it was communism that brought Venezuela a soaring GDP to to high oil production, a slash in unemployment and malnutrition, and increased affordable medical services which expanded life spans and cut child mortality rates. So if you support weak national economies, unemployment, starvation, and dead babies, feel free: oppose Chávez’s policies.

    As for HMichael Hawkins, first of all, Alexander Tyler’s assertions have been proven to be mostly false: Second of all, by asserting that a democracy that serves the people is one doomed to failure, you are telling me that a democracy should not be for the people. I personally disagree, I think that personal rights and liberty is the most important part of any government. If you prefer to live in a government that leaves humanity at the wayside, however, the more power to you.

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