Editor’s note: This piece was originally posted by Freedom Partners on July 31st, 2016. Minor edits were made to improve clarity.
What does socialism look like in the real world?
Cronyism. Inequality. Poverty. Despair. Human suffering on an immense scale.
That’s the answer that Freedom Partners member — and Venezuela native — Erick Brimen gives in the video below.
Erick explains how socialism swept into his homeland in response to a corrupt government that enriched its friends and allies at the public’s expense. The socialists, led by Hugo Chavez, promised to end the rampant cronyism and promote fairness and equality for all.
This naturally resonated with millions of Venezuelans who were sick and tired of the status quo. They wanted a radical change. Erick wanted one, too. He wrote in a recent op-ed in USA Today: “As a young and idealistic student myself, I was captivated by socialism’s promise of a more equal, fair and just society.”
But the dream of a socialist utopia turned out to be a nightmare. Its leaders inevitably broke their promises. Instead of creating a more fair, just, and prosperous society, the socialists siphoned off even more of the country’s wealth — and used to enrich their own politically favored few.
The rich actually got richer. In fact, the richest person in Venezuela today is the daughter of Hugo Chavez.
As for the poor, they got poorer — and more numerous.
Venezuela today is a country defined by human suffering. As Erick wrote:
The chasm between my country of birth and my country of choice widened in the following decade. The socialist model of command and control has utterly devastated the Venezuelan people. Overall poverty has skyrocketed from approximately 30% to over 70% over the years — and recent estimates put over half of the country’s 30.7 million people in extreme poverty. Pitifully, socialism’s attempts to control prices and direct the flow of goods and resources have led to shortages of even basic necessities, from food to toilet paper.
But as Erick says in the video: “What’s most tragic about it is that it didn’t have to be that way.”
Venezuela is a country with bountiful natural resources — it has the potential to be a wealthy country defined by freedom, opportunity, and prosperity for all. Instead of choosing the freedom that leads to such outcomes, it chose the empty and unachievable promise of socialism.
Venezuela’s story is a cautionary one for all of us. Socialism has impoverished Erick Brimen’s homeland, crushing tens of millions of his fellow countrymen. They were promised a brighter future — instead, they got a darker one defined by inequality and hopelessness. The same is true of every other country that has tried to implement socialism.
Now will we learn from this lesson in America?