Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nicolas Maduro Is Not Donald Trump

Venezuela is in an emergency situation and it called for emergency measures.

Venezuela is a nation of around 27,000,000 people that is dependent on oil exports for most of its government revenue and foreign currency needed for importing almost everything that's consumed in the country.

Since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 the government has made efforts to assure all Venezuelans have their necessities met. In spite of serious problems with corruption and inefficiencies and instability caused by the determination by the United States to overturn the government utilizing various means including the funding of opposition groups the living standards of the poor and near-poor were improving overall until the recent months since the collapse of oil prices. Venezuela has a complex monetary system that was intended to stop capital flight and facilitate the import and sale of low cost staples, medicine and personal hygiene products. It worked more or less well until the recent oil price collapse.

Neighboring Colombia has suffered through decades of insurgency and repression and its economic policies are neo-liberal. These factors have resulted in a large and growing Colombian population of around five million people living in Venezuela, where they've been afforded resident and citizen status.

Given the availability of cheap food, personal hygiene products and nearly free gasoline, as well as a wrinkle in the monetary system that's not hard to game Colombians as well as others have been involved in smuggling of contraband. Millions of people inside Colombia survive by informal work in the transportation and sale of items meant to go to people in Venezuela.

Venezuelans have been suffering long lines at stores where they don't always get the cheap items that they are looking for. Inflation is also eating away at the socialist type programs and living standard gains.

Last week three Venezuelan soldiers were shot while engaging in an anti-contraband operation at the border. That incident apparently was the straw that broke the camel's back. President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of the border and deportation of Colombians believed to be involved in contraband activities.

Some commentators have likened these steps (around 1,000 deportations out of a population of around 5,000,000) to the Nazi persecutions of the Jews. President Maduro is widely being compared to racist US demagogue Donald Trump. Trump brands all Mexicans as criminal and calls for revocation of citizenship of hundreds of thousands of people who are born in the United States and who are US citizens according to the constitution. Clearly the comparison to Nazism is outrageous and false as is the comparison of President Maduro to Donald Trump.

Because the Colombian government doesn't care about its own people many are in dire straits with the loss of contraband trade.

There is a humanitarian crisis in Colombia and those who claim to care ought to be organizing relief and pressing for international aid for the Colombian people.

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