On the Side of Right

Photo: Yahoo Finance

Photo: Yahoo Finance

Oliver Fisk, Staff Writer

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To the MLWGS’ers who all-too-readily subscribe to leftist thought,

I’m sorry, but this time it’s different. I know the timeline of American history, especially in recent memory, is inextricably linked with overbearing involvement throughout the Americas. I do not think we, as Americans, should ever fail to remember our country’s backing of the bloody Contras in Nicaragua, the barbaric Pinochet in Chile, nor the bestial Perón in Argentina. We are right to never dim the light of history, or we run the risk of impairing judgement with the the blinding, dazzling circumstances of the present. This time though, Reason- cold, calculating, unimpassioned Reason- deems US involvement in South America prudent and necessary. We should help acting President Juan Guaidó oust the dictatorial Nicolás Maduro. This time, things are different.

An attempt to understand the profound depths and dizzying heights of Venezuela’s decay and state of abject failure today demands a return to the 20th century; a return all the way back to the 1920s. Early during the reign of Dictator General Juan Vicente Gomez, oil was discovered in Venezuela. Under Gomez’ steely eyes, annual oil production exploded.  By 1929, Venezuela was second only to the United States in total output of oil with 137 million barrels in 1929. Eventually, Gomez died in 1935. His passing marked beginning of the end of Venezuela’s prosperity. By his death, oil had upended all other major domestic products, accounting for 90% of exports. Gomez’ lasting legacy was construction, the black governmental edifice upreared upon the hills and valleys of the South American country, tainted by its reliance on oil.

Now, economists (and even budding civil servants in high school) are duly aware of the malady of Dutch Disease that spurs economic illness and woe across developing countries, but then, the hegemony of Venezuela dictated the economy’s course with an absence of thought and caution. Simply put, those in power in Venezuela were asleep at the wheel. Over time, the Venezuelan Government passed a litany of legislation that contributed to a heightened all-encompassing reliance on oil. The Hydrocarbons Law of 1943 required foreign companies to give half of their oil profits to the state. The Punto Fijo pact of 1958 guaranteed that state jobs and oil profits would be parceled out to the three parties, in proportion to voting results. This dependence on oil might have worked out in Venezuela’s favor had the global oil economy never faltered, but lamentably in the 1980s, global oil prices plummeted. As Perez had nationalized the oil industry in 1976 and continued the country’s downward trajectory by buying a swath of foreign refineries during the recession, Venezuela mired itself in economic debt.

From this state of decay arose the charismatic and polarizing Hugo Chavez. Chavez, a self-declared Bolivarian socialist, won hearts by proclaiming a platform of support. To be fair, Chavez’s increase in government spending admirably cut poverty by 20%. However Chavez also ended term limits, essentially took control of the Supreme Court, closed independent press outlets, and oversaw the doubling of government debt. While the former achievement is impressive, the latter ones are simply cannot be justified in the modern age.

So who are the two Presidents today? Who is Nicolás Maduro and who is Juan Guaidó?

Well, Nicolás Maduro took the reigns of the country over from Chavez in 2013, and promptly was greeted by an economic crisis. In 2014, global oil prices tumbled, the Venezuelan economy went into free-fall, and the fate of socialism in Venezuela was sealed. You cannot overstate how much this collapse should be attributed to Socialist rule. Even though oil sales account for as much as 98 percent of export earnings, and as much as 50 percent of GDP, it is undeniably true that oil production in the country has declined for decades. Since the oil downturn of 2014, it is undeniably true that GDP has shrunk by double digits for three consecutive years, that Venezuela has missed billions of dollars in payments since the country defaulted in 2017, and that inflation now is at more than 80,000 percent, a truly incomprehensible figure. It is also undeniably true that Venezuela now boasts the highest homicide and crime rates in the world, that 3.4 million refugees have left the country since 2014, and that Democratic protests against the Maduro regime have been met with brutal, deadly force.

So now, though some in America may annoyingly complain about “American imperialism”, a simple consultation of these undeniable truths leads to only one path of respectable action. With these undeniable truths in mind, it is clear that the US is utterly justified in its support of acting President Juan Guaidó, the party leader of the most democratically supported party in Venezuela. Juan Guaidó has the right to try to save his country, we have the responsibility of helping him. American aid is needed, and we should rise to the occasion.

The Venezuelan issue is not a partisan one that warrants criticism of President Trump. The Venezuelan issue is not a moral one that warrants criticism of an overbearing Western power exerting its will upon a helpless developing country. The Venezuelan issue is a human issue. Venezuelans lost an average of twenty-four pounds in body weight. Nine out of ten live in poverty.

The despotic Maduro regime is blocking aid from entering the country. Juan Guaidó is a uniting force that is doing what is right. By supporting Guaidó, the United States of America, for once in its dark history of involvement in South America, is on the side of right.

Yours truly,

Oliver Fisk

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