LOS ANGELES —In PragerU’s newest video, “How’s Socialism Doing in Venezuela?” PragerU contributor and leading actress in Hillary’s America: The Secret Success of the Democratic Party, Debbie D’Souza, relays the painful price her native Venezuela has paid since it adopted socialism in the 1990s.
Venezuela was once a thriving and developing country with a strong economy and functioning democracy. Now, it is a hollow shell of its former self.
The problems began in 1999 when Venezuelans elected Hugo Chavez as president. Chavez promoted “Esperanza y Cambio” (hope and change) and promised to take money from “evil capitalists and evil corporations” and give it back to Venezuela’s citizens. He claimed the government “could run these businesses better than private enterprise, and the profits would be ‘shared’ by the people.”
Modeling his mentor, Fidel Castro, Chavez created public fanfare with long, embellished speeches and a national television presence. He garnered praise from progressive U.S. and European politicians as well as sympathetic Hollywood celebrities like Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover. “Here’s [a] rule: when Hollywood celebrities visit your country to praise your leader, you’re in trouble,” says D’Souza.
Chavez tore up contracts with multinational oil and gas companies and demanded they pay higher royalties. When they refused, Chavez told them to leave, and so they did. While Chavez was busy confiscating money and property from the “evil capitalists,” Venezuelan sociologist Tomás Páez estimates that nearly 2 million of Venezuela’s business owners, entrepreneurs and wealth creators left the country to create wealth in places like Miami, FL and Madrid, Spain.
“Socialism always works in the beginning, so people are fooled…in the beginning. It’s easy for governments to confiscate money, but eventually there’s no more money to confiscate,” comments D’Souza.
And the money did run out. Initially promising to leave office after two years if Venezuelans didn’t like him, Chavez, predictably, refused to give up power. Upon his death in 2013, Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, succeeded Chavez. “Maduro is Chavez without the charisma,” says D’Souza. Today, Venezuela has become a pariah to multinational firms and foreign governments alike. Basic necessities such as power, toilet paper and food are in dangerously short supply. In fact, surveys reveal that 75 percent of Venezuelan adults lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016—a national weight loss regimen known cynically as “the Maduro diet.”
“Once a country goes down a socialist path, there’s no easy way back. And the longer a country stays socialist, the harder it is to reform it. Venezuela has been socialist for two decades,” cautions D’Souza.
D’Souza warns Americans from heading toward a similar fate. “If you don’t think it can happen here, whether “here” is the United States or Europe or anywhere else, you’re fooling yourself. When people get used to depending on the government – no matter how poor they remain – that dependency is hard to break.”
MEDIA NOTE: PragerU contributor, Debbie D’Souza, is available for interview as is CEO, Marissa Streit. Please contact: MediaInquiries@theKcompany.co
PragerU, founded by Dennis Prager in 2011, is a not-for-profit organization that helps millions understand the values that shaped America and provides millions of Americans and people around the world with the intellectual ammunition they need to advocate for limited government, individual responsibility and economic freedom. In 2016 alone, PragerU’s videos received over 250 million views, a figure that will eclipse 350 million in 2017. PragerU is a resource for all who value liberty. It is a threat to all those who do not.