A member of the Venezuelan National Assembly, now in exile, encouraged Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to visit the South American country without bodyguards if he truly wants to understand what President Nicolás Maduro has done to the socialist nation.
Assemblyman José Guerra was asked in an interview with PJ Media’s Nicholas Ballasy what he thought of politicians like Sanders, who had declined last spring to refer to Maduro as a dictator. (The senator has since conceded that Maduro is.)
“Maybe they misunderstand what is going on in Venezuela. It’s a dictatorship. There’s no power separation … and more than 400 political prisoners that have been prosecuted like me. It’s a new dictatorship,” Guerra said in the interview, which was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday.
“Those people should go to Venezuela and live in Venezuela for a couple of weeks in order to have a very good picture of what is going on in Venezuela. I suggest that — go to Venezuela.”
In January, President Donald Trump recognized Juan Guaidó, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, as the interim president of the country.
According to Foreign Policy, as of February, nearly 50 countries recognize Guaidó as the legitimate president, while Maduro has the backing of Russia, China, Iran, Cuba and Turkey, among a handful of other nations.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson attended a protest at the Venezuela embassy in Washington, D.C., in May, arguing against the overthrow of the Maduro regime.
“I don’t know that Jesse Jackson and Bernie Sanders know in a very good way what is going on in Venezuela,” Guerra said. “I suggest Bernie Sanders take a week and go to Venezuela without bodyguards and go to the street and speak with a cellphone and see what is going on with Bernie Sanders, OK?”
The Washington Post reported in March that Venezuela is experiencing soaring hyperinflation, which has made cash virtually disappear because the government cannot print it fast enough.
The switch has led pickpockets in the country to eschew stealing wallets in favor of going after cellphones.
Guerra left Venezuela in June when the country’s Supreme Court stripped him of his parliamentary immunity from prosecution, according to Reuters. The lawmaker serves on the assembly’s finance commission, many of whose members have been critical of the Maduro government.
“The court’s actions attempt to dismantle a commission that has published statistics despite opacity and which has denounced this government’s financial mismanagement,” Guerra told Reuters.
Maduro’s regime has also set up a super-legislature called the Constituent Assembly.
“The Constituent Assembly, which the opposition does not recognize as legitimate, and Supreme Court have overridden the National Assembly’s decisions, limiting its oversight of public spending, debt and oil deals,” Reuters reported.
Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, sought to distance himself from Maduro’s brand of socialism during a Democratic presidential debate last month.
“To equate what goes on in Venezuela to what I believe is extremely unfair,” Sanders said.
He added that his policies are more aligned with those instituted by liberal governments in places like Canada or Scandinavia.
The senator said he wants an economy that “works for all of us, not just one percent.”
Wall Street Journal editor James Freeman argued in March that Sanders has consistently tried to say he is for a soft Scandinavian style of socialism and not the old, debunked Soviet kind.
As a reminder, Sanders spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union back in 1988, just a few years before the regime fell with a thud.
“Let’s take the strengths of both systems,” he said after returning from the communist nation. “Let’s learn from each other.”
Freeman noted that back in 2003, Sanders signed a letter in support of Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who turned one of South America’s wealthiest countries into a cautionary tale about socialism.
The columnist further highlighted in a July 2018 article that Scandinavian countries have made significant cuts to their corporate tax rates in recent years, which is the opposite of what Sanders wants to do.
“After enacting … expensive entitlements, Scandinavian voters then realized that their only hope of paying for them lay in the preservation of robust market economies,” Freeman wrote.
The Tax Foundation ranked Sweden in the top ten most competitive tax climates in the world, with Norway and Finland not too far behind.
The late Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman made a compelling case for capitalism on “The Phil Donahue Show” in the late 1970s.
“When you see around the globe the maldistribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries, when you see so few haves and so many have nots, when you see the greed and the concentration of power, did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed’s a good idea to run on?” Donahue asked.
“Well, first of all tell me is there some society that you know doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed?” answered Friedman, who served as a top economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
“The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaucrats.”
In an observation that speaks perfectly to the situation in Venezuela, Friedman added, “If you want to know where the masses are worse off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from [capitalism and largely free trade].
“So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system,” the economist said.
Proof that what Friedman said continues to be true can be seen in the booming economy under President Donald Trump.
Following the president’s implementation of corporate and personal tax cuts and the slashing of regulations earlier in his administration, the economy has boomed.
“Trump’s economy is great for billionaires, bad for working people,” Sanders contends.
Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore has pointed out that median household income has risen over $5,000 since Trump took office, compared to a rise of just over $1,000 over eight years under President Barack Obama.
The Obama stat is even more pitiful when considering he started from a recent low coming out of the Great Recession.
As a reminder, Obama raised taxes on businesses and individuals and added significantly to the entitlement state with Obamacare and the growth of other programs.
These are the kind of actions Sanders is advocating now.
Let Venezuela, Obama and even Scandinavia be a lesson to us: Socialism does not work.
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