Press Determined Not to Blame Venezuela's Social and Economic Calamity on Its Chavista Government

August 26th, 2015 11:44 AM

As Venezuela's Chavista economy under Nicolas Maduro continues to crumble, the Associated Press and others in the media continue to describe its problems as if they came out of nowhere instead of originating with its statist, oppressive government.

Examples follow the jump.

On August 19, AP reporter Hannah Dreier, in an item describing the arrest of two men in a "grisly slaying," noted that Maduro was attempting to tie the men involved to the country's political opposition. She brought up the country's out-of-control crime rate and one of the government's key economic policies without assigning blame for either (bolds are mine throughout this post):

The grisly slaying of a woman has become yet another political flashpoint in hyper-polarized Venezuela, with supporters and opponents of the country's socialist administration each saying the killers were working for the other side.

The case revolves around two young men arrested last week in the killing of 52-year-old Liana Hergueta, who was hacked to pieces. Her body parts were found hidden in bags and suitcases in her car, which was parked in an upscale Caracas neighborhood near a golf course.

The brutality of the murder was shocking even in the crime-ridden capital of one of the world's most dangerous countries. Local media reported that the two targeted Hergueta, who had no political profile, because she had been insulting one of them on social media. The men allegedly lured her to her death posing as black market money-changers, a job that has become a Venezuelan fixture as currency distortions reshape the economy.

Details of the suspects' sketchy backgrounds have been trickling out for days, but the saga took a new turn Tuesday night when President Nicolas Maduro appeared on national television to accuse the perpetrators of working with a who's who of opposition figures to destabilize the government.

As to crime, the Maduro government assuredly deserves some blame. noted two years ago, in describing "a country overrun by crime," that "The government does not seem to be interested in prosecuting common criminals nearly as much as it is seeking to put opposition leaders behind bars."

As to the "currency distortions," Dreier writes as if they're some kind of outside influence over which no one has control, when it's the government's creation of multiple exchange rates — "Four, if you count the illegal black market," according to Bloomberg News in February, with has done the distorting.

In an item posted this morning on the country's 'border crackdown" with Colombia, the AP's Yhoger Contreras and Fabiola Sanchez also acted as if the country's decaying economy as something which just sort of showed up:

Critics in Venezuela and Colombia have said the actions are an attempt by Maduro to distract Venezuelans from the severe economic crises facing his oil-rich country, which is troubled by soaring inflation and empty supermarket shelves.

Well, where did these "troubles" come from? The answers lie in Chavista government policies, including price controls and industry nationalizations. Additionally, even though the country is "oil-rich," the state-owned industry is horribly inefficient and "riddled with corruption."

While we're at it, especially in the context of statements made by critics, since when did Venezuela become "his" (i.e., Maduro's) country?

Though it's an improvement over the AP's output, even the Wall Street Journal only got around to partially blaming of the government in a article this morning about the effects of food shortages:

Venezuela’s Food Shortages Trigger Long Lines, Hunger and Looting
Violent clashes flare in pockets around the country as citizens wait for hours for basics like milk and rice

... The unrest is a response to dramatically worsening living conditions for Venezuelans as the economy reels from oil’s slump following more than a decade of populist spending that left the government broke.

... While the government blames the shortages on bachaqueros (smugglers), economists say they are the consequence of price controls and a broken economic model that has left average Venezuelans with diminishing employment options.

In past years, when oil prices were high, Venezuela’s leftist government flooded markets with subsidized goods ranging from cooking oil to diapers. It gave citizens in border towns like La Sibucara not only access to cheap supplies, but also a source of income as many people trafficked products—including nearly free gasoline—to neighboring Colombia, drawing handsome profits.

With the government now struggling to pay for imports, there is less inventory to go around.

So the "oil slump" (an extnerality) gets primary blame. The country could supposedly have withstood its "decade of populist spending" if that darned "oil slump" hadn't come along.

The article's reference to what "economists say" about price controls isn't necessary. What we're seeing in Venezuela is what always happens with price controls and nationalization, especially when accompanied by a government's oppression of its citizens.

Cross-posted at