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rockaction

Venezuela Thread

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This is the place to discuss Venezuela and the sadness going on there. Let's keep it apolitical and respect the populace of that country. 

Love all y'all. 

-RA 

Edited by rockaction
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Venezuela is going nuts right now.

- Mass transit shut down.

- Opposition leader banned from politics.

- Chavista court dissolves parliament.

- Parliament may remove Chavista judges.

- Crowds and huge protests facing down the police and government.

 

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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Supreme court building set afire too.

Btw, this isn't due to "socialism", but kleptocracy + incompetence + corruption, with a side order of cult of personality.

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Things have been in a steady decline there for about 10 years, with the economic catastrophe starting about 6-7 years ago.  Most of those with means to left years back.

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16 minutes ago, otb_lifer said:

RA bringin' the righteous hammer tonight :thumbup:

But this is December. I bring that hammer every so often. 

RA's thread. Still $.05. Just can't find it.  

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54 minutes ago, rockaction said:

But this is December. I bring that hammer every so often. 

RA's thread. Still $.05. Just can't find it.  

found nothing but sagacity and solace and innerwebz kinship up in that mutha, hell of a throwdown   

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20 hours ago, otb_lifer said:

found nothing but sagacity and solace and innerwebz kinship up in that mutha, hell of a throwdown   

Thanks, man.  

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21 hours ago, The Z Machine said:

Supreme court building set afire too.

Btw, this isn't due to "socialism", but kleptocracy + incompetence + corruption, with a side order of cult of personality.

Funny how socialism often leads to those other things.

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5 minutes ago, dickey moe said:

Funny how socialism often leads to those other things.

I find it odd that socialism often leads to monetary problems, supply and demand issues, and rampant influence-peddling and kleptocracy, too. 

It's almost like it's got a fundamental flaw or something along those lines.  

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1 hour ago, rockaction said:

I find it odd that socialism often leads to monetary problems, supply and demand issues, and rampant influence-peddling and kleptocracy, too. 

It's almost like it's got a fundamental flaw or something along those lines.  

Not always...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/01/05/as-socialist-venezuela-collapses-socialist-bolivia-thrives-heres-why/?utm_term=.87ec6f8773f2

As socialist Venezuela collapses, socialist Bolivia thrives. Here’s why.

Venezuela’s economy is a catastrophe of Dickensian proportions. And for plenty of readers, that’s hardly a surprise. Every time I write about it, dozens pipe in with some variant on the same comment: “Socialism leading to total ruin — who would’ve thought?!” The temptation to read Venezuela’s collapse as ideological comeuppance seems to be irresistible. My country, people tell me again and again, is just the end of the line on the Road to Serfdom.

There’s just one problem with all this bashing of socialism: Bolivia.

Since 2006, Bolivia has been run by socialists every bit as militant as Venezuela’s. But as economist Omar Zambrano has argued, the country has experienced a spectacular run of economic growth and poverty reduction with no hint of the chaos that has plagued Venezuela. While inflation spirals toward the thousand-percent mark in Venezuela, in Bolivia it runs below 4 percent a year. Shortages of basic consumption goods — rampant in Caracas — are unheard of in La Paz. And extreme poverty — now growing fast in Venezuela — affects just 17 percent of Bolivians now, down from 38 percent before the socialists took over 10 years ago, even as inequality shrinks dramatically. The richest 10 percent in Bolivia used to earn 128 times more than the poorest 10 percent; today, they earn 38 times as much.

How can this be? It’s true that Bolivia has been on the receiving end of a staggering boom in natural resources for much of the past decade, as both the volume of its gas and mining exports and the price they fetch abroad jumped at the same time. Export revenue grew six-fold in the decade after Evo Morales, the charismatic hard-left president, took power, from $2.2 billion just before of his election to $12.9 billion at the peak of the boom.

So yes, that’s a bit like putting the game settings on “easy” when it comes to development. But it can hardly explain why Bolivia thrives while Venezuela spirals: Venezuela enjoyed an even bigger commodities boom, with exports climbing from $23 billion before the oil boom to $153 billion at its peak.

Turns out it’s not the boom itself that matters, it’s what you do with it.

Venezuela’s socialists spent the entire export windfall, and then some. Bolivia’s socialists saved much of theirs. [...]

Turns out the difference between Bolivia and Venezuela has nothing to do with abstract ideological labels, and everything to do with fiscal prudence.

I know, I know, fiscal prudence sounds deadly dull, but it makes an enormous difference in real people’s lives. While Venezuela’s reckless socialists were impoverishing the country’s once thriving middle class, Bolivia’s socialists were creating an entirely new indigenous middle class, even spawning a whole new style of architecture along with it. Why? Because newly affluent Bolivians can afford it: Per capita GDP more than tripled from just $1,000 a year to over $3,200 over a decade. At the same time, new government social programs designed to help older people, mothers and other at-risk groups saw to major improvements in social indicators. To take just one, consider this: Thirty-two percent of Bolivians were chronically malnourished in 2003. By 2012, just 18 percent were.

The point here isn’t to idealize Bolivia’s socialists: The country remains badly governed in important ways. Corruption remains endemic in Bolivia’s public sector, with most infrastructure contracts given out on a no-bid basis to ruling-party cronies. And while nowhere near as extreme as Venezuela’s turn to dictatorship, Bolivia’s political scene has seen worrying authoritarian drift, closing down the spaces for dissent that any proper democracy needs to function. [...]

What’s clear is that the supposedly obvious link between socialism and economic ruin doesn’t check out. It’s not just that it’s easy to find counter examples of socialist governments that fail to set off economic collapse, like Bolivia. It’s also that catastrophe has more often than not come at the hand of committed anti-socialists. Bouts of acute economic chaos ending in hyperinflation broke out in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and even in Bolivia itself back in the 1980s, each time under centrist or right-wing governments deeply at odds with the socialist left.

Socialism, it turns out, explains nothing about why some countries turn into economic basketcases. Instead, it muddles the debate for political ends, delegitimizing progressive policies that have often been shown to work while convincing conservatives that it’s okay when they recklessly overspend. After all, if it isn’t economic recklessness that causes economic chaos, but rather an abstract noun (“socialism”), why shouldn’t right-wingers overspend?

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23 hours ago, otb_lifer said:

RA bringin' the righteous hammer tonight :thumbup:

"tonight"

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Socialism is such a crock of ####.  Thank God Bernie didn't get elected.  He would've ####ed up this economy for a generation. 

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8 minutes ago, Higgs said:

Socialism is such a crock of ####.  Thank God Bernie didn't get elected.  He would've ####ed up this economy for a generation. 

What's your prediction for the economy during Trump's run?

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2 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

What's your prediction for the economy during Trump's run?

If we don't have a World War I'm bullish.

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1 minute ago, Higgs said:

If we don't have a World War I'm bullish.

So, what's your prediction on average annual GDP growth under Trump (assuming no World war)?

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1 minute ago, The Z Machine said:

So, what's your prediction on average annual GDP growth under Trump (assuming no World war)?

A lot better than Obama's, which was the worst since Hoover.

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These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger. Who's the banana republic now?

-Bernie Sanders 

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52 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

Btw, all you #######s laughing at the misery of my family can go to hell.

Nobody laughs at this. You need to read us better. We loathe this sort of stuff and only wish for prosperity and peace in the world.

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1 hour ago, The Z Machine said:

So, what's your prediction on average annual GDP growth under Trump (assuming no World war)?

That's the thing people don't seem to understand when discussing the economy... at 2% the economy is sluggish, at 4% it's humming. id like to think under Trump it will be closer to historical norms. 

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25 minutes ago, GROOT said:

Who had a stolen election before this? 

I don't think Ecuador has had a problem since the 70s. Correa was and is a problem because he ended a pretty admirable run of presidents leaving after single terms. Correa is basically a Chavista and Moreno is in that mode as well.

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On 4/8/2017 at 7:01 PM, The Z Machine said:

Supreme court building set afire too.

Btw, this isn't due to "socialism", but kleptocracy + incompetence + corruption, with a side order of cult of personality.

Many of which go hand in hand with true Socialism.

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On 4/9/2017 at 5:42 PM, squistion said:

Not always...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/01/05/as-socialist-venezuela-collapses-socialist-bolivia-thrives-heres-why/?utm_term=.87ec6f8773f2

As socialist Venezuela collapses, socialist Bolivia thrives. Here’s why.

Venezuela’s economy is a catastrophe of Dickensian proportions. And for plenty of readers, that’s hardly a surprise. Every time I write about it, dozens pipe in with some variant on the same comment: “Socialism leading to total ruin — who would’ve thought?!” The temptation to read Venezuela’s collapse as ideological comeuppance seems to be irresistible. My country, people tell me again and again, is just the end of the line on the Road to Serfdom.

There’s just one problem with all this bashing of socialism: Bolivia.

Since 2006, Bolivia has been run by socialists every bit as militant as Venezuela’s. But as economist Omar Zambrano has argued, the country has experienced a spectacular run of economic growth and poverty reduction with no hint of the chaos that has plagued Venezuela. While inflation spirals toward the thousand-percent mark in Venezuela, in Bolivia it runs below 4 percent a year. Shortages of basic consumption goods — rampant in Caracas — are unheard of in La Paz. And extreme poverty — now growing fast in Venezuela — affects just 17 percent of Bolivians now, down from 38 percent before the socialists took over 10 years ago, even as inequality shrinks dramatically. The richest 10 percent in Bolivia used to earn 128 times more than the poorest 10 percent; today, they earn 38 times as much.

How can this be? It’s true that Bolivia has been on the receiving end of a staggering boom in natural resources for much of the past decade, as both the volume of its gas and mining exports and the price they fetch abroad jumped at the same time. Export revenue grew six-fold in the decade after Evo Morales, the charismatic hard-left president, took power, from $2.2 billion just before of his election to $12.9 billion at the peak of the boom.

So yes, that’s a bit like putting the game settings on “easy” when it comes to development. But it can hardly explain why Bolivia thrives while Venezuela spirals: Venezuela enjoyed an even bigger commodities boom, with exports climbing from $23 billion before the oil boom to $153 billion at its peak.

Turns out it’s not the boom itself that matters, it’s what you do with it.

Venezuela’s socialists spent the entire export windfall, and then some. Bolivia’s socialists saved much of theirs. [...]

Turns out the difference between Bolivia and Venezuela has nothing to do with abstract ideological labels, and everything to do with fiscal prudence.

I know, I know, fiscal prudence sounds deadly dull, but it makes an enormous difference in real people’s lives. While Venezuela’s reckless socialists were impoverishing the country’s once thriving middle class, Bolivia’s socialists were creating an entirely new indigenous middle class, even spawning a whole new style of architecture along with it. Why? Because newly affluent Bolivians can afford it: Per capita GDP more than tripled from just $1,000 a year to over $3,200 over a decade. At the same time, new government social programs designed to help older people, mothers and other at-risk groups saw to major improvements in social indicators. To take just one, consider this: Thirty-two percent of Bolivians were chronically malnourished in 2003. By 2012, just 18 percent were.

The point here isn’t to idealize Bolivia’s socialists: The country remains badly governed in important ways. Corruption remains endemic in Bolivia’s public sector, with most infrastructure contracts given out on a no-bid basis to ruling-party cronies. And while nowhere near as extreme as Venezuela’s turn to dictatorship, Bolivia’s political scene has seen worrying authoritarian drift, closing down the spaces for dissent that any proper democracy needs to function. [...]

What’s clear is that the supposedly obvious link between socialism and economic ruin doesn’t check out. It’s not just that it’s easy to find counter examples of socialist governments that fail to set off economic collapse, like Bolivia. It’s also that catastrophe has more often than not come at the hand of committed anti-socialists. Bouts of acute economic chaos ending in hyperinflation broke out in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and even in Bolivia itself back in the 1980s, each time under centrist or right-wing governments deeply at odds with the socialist left.

Socialism, it turns out, explains nothing about why some countries turn into economic basketcases. Instead, it muddles the debate for political ends, delegitimizing progressive policies that have often been shown to work while convincing conservatives that it’s okay when they recklessly overspend. After all, if it isn’t economic recklessness that causes economic chaos, but rather an abstract noun (“socialism”), why shouldn’t right-wingers overspend?

So Bolivia is the exception that proves the rule?

 

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15 minutes ago, RedmondLonghorn said:

So Bolivia is the exception that proves the rule?

 

Nope. Then again neither is Venezuela.

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Chavez was a populist more than a socialist IMHO and got more done by means of his personality cult than through socialist tenets.

An abject disaster from day one. How did he come to power? As a reaction to decades of making the rich richer while letting the middle class wither and the poor die.

I feel for the Venezuelans, most have been ####ed by one government or the other for all of their lives. And likely the opposition would fare no better in improving the conditions, should they succeed in toppling Maduro, if we can judge by the past. 

Edited by msommer

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On 4/9/2017 at 8:46 PM, Dedfin said:

"tonight"

was well into my second bottle of Dewars, and he did start another provocative thread that night - can't fault a drunk #### for not checking the date :shrug:

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I have no love loss for CITGO as they were the primary reason one of the companies I used to work for had to sell to a competitor and started an interesting chain of events in my life. That said, I can't think Russia owning them is a good thing no matter what side of the fence you are on.

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2 hours ago, otb_lifer said:

was well into my second bottle of Dewars, and he did start another provocative thread that night - can't fault a drunk #### for not checking the date :shrug:

Yep. Was well into a bottle and started a few that day.

:banned:

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On 4/9/2017 at 7:59 PM, rockaction said:

Another citation of authority, a response via the same. 

https://mises.org/library/what’s-driving-bolivia’s-booming-economy


 

Quote

 

Well, there may not be any great mystery to Bolivia’s success, if we take into account the fact that it is actually riding high on the wave of a commodity boom, particularly in natural gas, which alone constitutes around 45 percent of Bolivia’s exports. Such is the reliance of Bolivia on this commodity that when the price falls, as has begun to happen this year, a rehash of the classic plot line of a Latin American government’s gravy train coming to a crunching stop would not be surprising.

...

In fact, Evo’s tenure has undoubtedly been one of pragmatism. It is true that since 2005 he has expropriated just over twenty companies, but the level of expropriations in no way compares to that taking place in the culture of government impunity rife in Venezuela where 1,168 foreign and domestic companies were expropriated between 2002 and 2012. The infamous nationalization of foreign oil and gas fields is not one of complete state control, but is rather about gaining a controlling share of the profits made by foreign companies which can then be diverted into various social programs.

All this would suggest, as the mainstream business press gleefully point out, that Evo is no old-style Latin American socialist. Instead, they claim, what he’s doing in Bolivia is really run-of-the-mill Nordic-style social democracy in a Latin American setting.

The business press narrative however, ignores the genuinely significant and even transformative things that have occurred under Evo’s presidency, which despite the rhetoric they are couched in, have nothing to do with socialism and everything to do with advancing true freedom and enterprise.

irst among these is Morales’s rejection of the international financial system and its pillars, the IMF and World Bank. In left-wing lore, this position is consistent with the continent-wide popular struggle against neoliberalism and “free-market fundamentalism” that brought Evo to power. But in reality, the IMF and World Bank interventions are about building an infrastructure of financial control and corporate patronage that is the complete antithesis of the free market.

The modus operandi of these institutions is to go to a developing country already struggling under a mountain of debt and, colluding with its domestic elites, sign it up for a loan, usually to fund a transport or utilities development. This strategy is a win for the lenders, the western corporations given the development contracts, and anyone else who can benefit from this web of state-backed international corporatism. It is a loss for the recipient country (i.e., the taxpayers) who must service the crushing interest payments and make “structural adjustments” to their economy which are stated conditions for providing the loan.

This is precisely what happened in Bolivia when by the early 80s its corrupt elites racked up around $3 billion in debt to foreign banks. The IMF stepped in offering a series of loans to cover the balance of payment crisis and “modernize” its infrastructure. Defenders of the free market might approve the fact that as a condition of the loans, over the next few decades, state enterprises were sold off to foreign corporations and government spending was restricted.

Though we can always expect efficiency benefits from a state-run industry being run as a private concern, morally speaking, the state has no right to sell its stolen property to third parties, especially when they are corporations with state enforced privileges inaccessible to private citizens like limited liability and even guaranteed rates of profit. There is also nothing free market about the way taxes were increased on the poor to meet the demands for deficit reduction, or the way the whole emphasis of the IMF’s plan in Bolivia was to develop it as a commodity exporting country. This meant recommending measures like currency devaluation and creating an artificial export infrastructure dominated by western corporations.

...

Refusal to cooperate in the US war on drugs and a decidedly laissez-faire attitude to informal and small-to-medium enterprise means that the state’s presence as an antagonistic force in the lives of ordinary people is at a historical low. This, in combination with a banking system flush with savings and low debt has been key to the bursting on to the scene of small enterprises run by indigenous entrepreneurs who have successfully leveraged their culture and trading channels to climb their way into the burgeoning middle class.

In Bolivia, like neighboring Peru, even the poorest of the poor have the means to turn a stall into a small business and a small business into something larger.

... Though it is right to oppose nationalization, it is hard to take seriously the argument that were Evo not in power, and Bolivia left in the hands of the “business friendly” opposition, the country would be necessarily better or conducive to genuine free enterprise. A great levelling of the playing field has occurred under Evo, not through forceful redistribution of wealth, but rather through standing back and letting freedom and entrepreneurialism of the people run unchecked. It is this that has made Bolivia a tangibly different country to what it was ten years ago, and it is the hope of all those who care about freedom, that this will be the enduring legacy of the Morales years, long after the commodity boom ends.

 

- This is an interesting take.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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9 hours ago, RedmondLonghorn said:

an entirely new indigenous middle class, even spawning a whole new style of architecture along with it.

Quote

Mamani is the architect behind many of these new "chalets"...

...

Many of these people are indigenous, and some are now so affluent that they can afford to build their own home or "chalet".

A typical "chalet" consists of a ground floor with a covered car park, a second floor with a grand ballroom, an upper floor with apartments and a roof with a replica of a traditional El Alto brick house.

At the Prince Alexander, one of Mamani's most spectacular works, the leftovers of last Saturday night's party are being cleaned up under the glare of a two-metre-long chandelier that features 120 LED bulbs.

Among the abandoned wedding decorations and empty wine bottles, Alessandro Chino, 54, talks proudly of his investment.

"I am an entrepreneur, for me the ballroom is one more revenue," he says. "So I rent this hall out for events like weddings, baptisms, graduations and official ceremonies."

Four hundred people can fit on the dancefloor and hosting a graduation party in there at the weekend can cost 7,000 bolivianos (around $1,000). That is a third of the average annual income of a Bolivian citizen, according to the World Bank. 

 

Quote

All over cities like La Paz, colorful mansions known as cholets (a term combining “cholo” the discriminatory term for someone of Indian descent, with the word chalet) are springing up, constructed in Andean style architecture, often five stories high, with the lower levels turned into businesses: living and breathing monuments to entrepreneurialism that have transformed the urban landscape.

 

- This sounds like some seriously conspicuous consumption, not very socialist or radical.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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On 4/9/2017 at 7:42 PM, squistion said:

Turns out the difference between Bolivia and Venezuela has nothing to do with abstract ideological labels, and everything to do with fiscal prudence.

- Seems important. That ain't Chavez.

Quote

 

The Morales Formula:  Radicalism at the Service of Orthodoxy

The most striking aspect of the eight year rule of Evo Morales is his rigor and consistency in upholding orthodox economic policies – right out of the handbook of the international financial organizations.           

 Fiscal Policy

The Morales regime has exercised tight control over government spending, ensuring a budget surplus and keeping social spending and public investment at levels comparable to previous neo-liberal regimes. 

Pay raises for public sector workers are modest, barely keeping ahead of increases in the cost of living . 

The government has held the line against public sector unions, strongly resisting strikes and other forms of labor pressure. 

As a result, bankers and business people, both national and foreign, have benefited from low taxes, a stable currency and business friendly fiscal incentives.

Trade Policy

The Government has aimed for and secured favorable trade balances, based on the export of mineral and agricultural commodities. 

The Morales regime has used the billion dollar surpluses to triplicate foreign reserves, $14 billion dollars, guaranteeing foreign investors access to hard currency, when it comes to remitting profits. 

The boom in export earnings is a result of high commodity prices and an increase in government royalties.  Only a small share of the high earnings has gone into public investments in manufacturing and social programs; most funds remain in the banks

At best the regime has increased spending on infrastructure to facilitate the transport of agro-mineral exports. (As during colonial policies)

Investment Policy

The Morales regime has encouraged and protected large scale foreign investment in mining and agriculture.

It has not nationalized any large mining operation.  Instead it has bought shares in forming joint ventures and increased taxes to a modest and acceptable degree.

Corporate profits are high, remittances are unencumbered, environmental and safety regulations are lax and labor conflicts are at historical lows.

Labor Policy

The Morales regime has encouraged labor union officials under its influence, to negotiate, hold down wage demands and accept moderate increases, just above the rate of inflation.

 Morales has not increased labor’s power and prerogatives at the workplace, nor allowed labor any influence in shaping its extractive capital development strategy. 

Increases in the minimum wage have been incremental; the majority of labor, especially in the rural sector, live at or below the poverty line. 

Morales has rejected any notion of workers co-participation in public sector enterprises and upholds the authority of capital to hire and fire workers without adequate indemnification except under specific circumstances.

Morales, via his party (MAS – Movement to Socialism) exercises decisive influence over the leaders of the labor confederation (COB) and Indian movements, thus ensuring social stability and political certainty for the business elite.

His period of labor peace is in sharp contrast to the general strikes and popular rebellion of the previous decades.

 

...

The Morales regime has successfully imposed a political economic model which has generated an unprecedented decade of political and social stability and a growth rate between 4% and 6%.

He has secured joint ventures and investments from over 50 of the biggest multi-national corporations and is in good standing with the international financial organizations.

Morales has received financial aid from both leftist ( Venezuela ) and rightist regimes (European Union).  The Morales regime has secured an ever increasing percentage of votes, over the past decade, ensuring the continuity of policies, personnel, institutions and the class structure.

Morales has successfully co-opted formerly militant trade unionists  and peasant leaders, through radical rhetoric, stipends and subsidies.

He has successfully converted them into “guardians of the status quo”.  He has converted Santa Cruz oligarchs into political allies.

Morales has isolated and stigmatized dissident peasant organizations and environmental groups protesting infrastructure and agro-mining projects devastating the environment as “tools of imperialism”.

Even as he invites imperial MNC to take over natural resources.

Morales has been a master, without peer in Latin America , at justifying orthodox, reactionary policies with radical rhetoric

... He is not a social revolutionary or even a consequential social reformer.  His regime is certainly not a government of workers and the poor.  But Evo Morales is Bolivia ’s most successful democratic capitalist ruler and he is still expanding his electoral base.  The question is how long the “other 50%” will swallow his political chicanery?

 

https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/bolivia-president-evo-morales-radical-in-conservatism-and-why-the-us-is-not-happy-with-evo-morales-of-bolivia/

- I'm actually starting to wonder if Morales is even a socialist, at least in the Chavez-Castro respect.

I think the explanation for the successful economy is he is not. He sounds pretty capitalist. Bears watching.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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1 hour ago, rockaction said:

Yep. Was well into a bottle and started a few that day.

:banned:

i often stumble like a drunken hobo into your thread(s) du jour when i'm full on in the bag  :suds:

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My father in law is afraid to leave the country because he's not sure if the airport will be functioning when he returns, or that his house won't be occupied by squatters.

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1 minute ago, msommer said:

That sucks, Z.

It's been a ####ty 15 years for Venezuela to say the least.

Classy post. 

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4 minutes ago, rockaction said:

I like that you bumped this thread, but can't give this a like.  Thanks for the update, SID.  

Yeah, I know, it's a tragedy.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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