The current conditions for ordinary people in Venezuela seems an unusual topic of discussion for some Labour politicians and commentators. The human catastrophe in that unfortunate South American country does not resonate with the British public. The suffering and disruption comes on to our screens only infrequently when there is a surge in the violence. So why do interviewers persist in questioning Jeremy Corbyn, Owen Jones and John McDonnell about Venezuela?

The answer is very simple. Before about 2012 or thereabouts, Venezuela was held up by numerous people who are now in positions of influence and power in the Labour movement as the gold standard of socialism, an example to follow. Here, they stated, was a socialist success story, a society transformed from capitalism into a participatory democracy, where wealth was not concentrated, but shared. Poverty, they declared, had been eradicated, and numerous welfare and education programmes were leading the many, not the few, of Venezuela to a bright future.

Other people said: Just wait . . .

Having nailed their colours – all red, by the way – to the mast, these cheerleaders saw Venezuela go the way of every other socialist country into collapse and dictatorship. Life is so dire in Venezuela that its women would rather work as prostitutes in Trinidad. People with other portable skills have joined the exodus. The ideology of willing volunteers in complex jobs is no substitute for expertise, and infrastructure has imploded. A prime example is that this oil-rich country experiences petrol shortages, owing to ageing refineries and a shortage of oil industry experts. The socialist health-care system is in crisis, partly through lack of medicines but also because doctors are fleeing the country. Hundreds go to Chile, whose capitalist economy is a mirror image of Venezuela’s. Given that country’s position in the demonology of the Left, this is highly ironic.

So how do British socialists answer when they are now reminded of their previous triumphalism? Well, Jeremy Corbyn drones on, condemning ‘all violence’* as he usually does, clearly preferring his teeth pulled without anaesthetic to having a narrow non-specific condemnation of violence by the socialist Venezuelan state against its own people dragged out of him.

Owen Jones resorts to Soviet-style whataboutery, avoiding the topic completely after admitting some mistakes were made, but going on to make fake claims about other socialist South American countries, before vociferously demanding to discuss Saudi Arabia instead.

He seems to have stopped writing in praise of Venezuela shortly after Chavez’s theft of the 2012 election.

Last weekend, John McDonnell tried a new tack. Venezuela? Not socialist at all, he states. The country took a ‘wrong turn’ after the death of Chavez in 2013.

McDonnell needs to try harder. The shortages started years before Chavez died, as did the exodus of the able. The BBC was reporting on state price controls driving goods off supermarket shelves way back in 2006. The country was crumbling during the era of high oil prices, not after. This was socialism in action, distorting the economy and causing shortages.

The best commentary on Venezuela came from another populist politician, namely President Donald Trump, when he said in a speech at the United Nations: ‘The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.’  Owen, John, please note.

Despite the disaster, the wider Labour movement still shows ‘solidarity’ with the Venezuelan regime. The irregularly-published publication of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, Viva Venezuela! is filled with messages of ‘solidarity’ from every major trades union in the UK amidst its mix of paranoia and triumphalism. A few months ago I phoned these organisations to ask if this ‘solidarity’ translates into any form of aid, such as medical supplies or food to alleviate the man-made catastrophe. No union could give me with an answer, except one which stated that it definitely did not. So much for British socialist ‘solidarity’ feeding the starving of Caracas. Internationalism does not include fraternal aid parcels. But that’s socialism for you . . .

The fact does remain that John McDonnell still believes Chavez’s rule of Venezuela provides a model of governance, one that he might use should he enter No 11. The typical failure of socialism in Venezuela resonates as much with the British public as does the dire history of the USSR as an example of collectivist ideology put into practice, which is not very much these days. Putin is not Stalin. Somehow, it really should resonate more. People need to know what to expect from Jeremy Corbyn should he and McDonnell get into power with the backing of the trades unions and their vacuous ‘solidarity’. If people study Venezuela, either under Chavez or Maduro, they will.

*© Gerry Adams, at a time when the IRA was murdering people on British soil.


  1. “La victoria trova cento padri, a nessuno vuole riconoscere l’insuccesso.” “Success has a hundred fathers, but failure is an orphan.” (literally, “Victory finds a hundred parents, but nobody wants to recognise the defeat.”) (1942)– popularised by JFK but originated with Italian diplomat and son-in-law of Mussolini, Count Galeazzo Ciano (1903-1944)

  2. Almost exactly a year ago, what was described as the “childhood home” of Hugo Chavez was torched by protesters in Barinas, Venezuela. That wasn’t some belated attempt to give him a kind of heroic funeral pyre, but an accurate recognition of the disgust which they had for him.

    (Asked whether they would move on to the birthplace of Nicolás Maduro, people said, “We’d like to, but that’s in Colombia,” alluding to a persistent rumour that Maduro was, indeed, born in Colombia and is, as such, ineligible to be President of Venezuela.)

    The rot set in right at the start of the Chavez era in Venezuela. Chavez knew it would, so he armed his loyalists, while disarming everyone else. This was part of a Cuban-style system for controlling the population. In fact, over time, Chavez effectively handed over Venezuela’s “security” to Cuban experts. I believe Chavez even appointed as energy minister a Cuban, whose only known relevant expertise with electricity lay in applying electrodes to sensitive pieces of anatomy.

    Corruption of the conventional kind was never a stranger to Venezuela, but it took off in a big way under Chavez. I pointed out elsewhere, only yesterday, that one of his daughters is a dollar billionaire. Other cronies, not least in the military, did well out of the Chavez regime, while the economy cratered. Venezuela became a narcostate, with all that that entails, such as a murder rate competing with that of Honduras. Chavez splurged on military equipment, apparently with a view to annexing Guyana. Even the thugs on the street corners with their Kalashnikovs don’t need MiGs, as well.

    People may sometimes forget that, although Venezuela sits on oceans of oil, its own energy is supplied largely from hydroelectricity. The failure of that industry is entirely down to Chavez, who allowed the infrastructure to rust and the expertise to fritter away.

    I’d be intrigued to know what Corbyn and McDonnell believe Chavez got right and what Maduro, relatively, has done differently and I believe that this is a perfectly legitimate line of questioning for interviewers. This is far from irrelevant, when the Shadow Chancellor continues to praise the Chavez catastrophe, with the implication that he sees it as a blueprint for the United Kingdom.

    This “failure” of socialism (note how the left no longer calls it “communism”) is not new, or unexpected. It’s built right in to the system. If you have a Party which controls things from on high, how will you not get a new “aristocracy”, regardless of what happened to the old version? A socialist stick of rock would have “SUBMIT!” running all the way through it.

    Socialism is totalitarianism. It has been tried, numerous times, and has always failed.

    “Animal Farm” should be compulsory reading.

    • “so he armed his loyalists, while disarming everyone else”
      Pretty much like the left are doing in the West but with speech.

  3. The communists/socialists will never let the failed real world examples of their religion, change their faith in communism/socialism and variants of it (eg, progressivism, social democracy)

    So no matter how many more countries fall to the disease, there will always be a minority in every country who is passionate about this religion.

    In Venzuela, there are female doctors illegally entering Colombia to sell their bodies because they cannot live on a doctors salary. There are also people hunting rats as food, because the food has become extremely expensive and difficult to get access to.

  4. “ if socialists understood economics, they wouldn’t be socialists ” – Hayek

  5. How dare you question the Cult?

    This kind of activity is just the sort of thing that the H of P discussed banning last week and only missed doing so by a whisker.

  6. As I understand it, Venezuela is a paradise on earth if you judge it on the Owen Jones Whatabouta-Saudi Scale.

    It’s the new benchmark for compassion. As endorsed by the BBC, The Guardian and Sky News.

    If unemployed Venezuelan oil workers are forced their boil their own shoes for soup for their families, that is actually a comparative advantage, when viewed through Owen Jones’ new Whatabouta-Saudi Glasses.

    It must be enormous comforting to those victims of state torture, that The Daily Telegraph has ignored their plight as equally shamefully as the casualties of the war in Yemen. And that Owen Jones strongly condemns it.

    According to the calculations made on the Owen Jones Whatabouta-Saudi slide rule, those Venezualans should be cockahoop and thankful for the joys of socialism.

  7. Slightly off topic, but the BBCs amazingly biased coverage of Venezuela has been a testament to their full on left wing beliefs.

    The BBC never had Venezuela off Radio 4 singing its praises, and after the death of their hero “Ugo shavezzzzzzz” they went into deep mourning of the kind only practiced for their leftie heros like Nelson Mandela.
    Then when it all began to go wrong the coverage in Latin America dried up. The public were probably expected to believe that the corporation had just returned to normal biased broadcasting rather than the truth of what was beginning to happen.

    Eventually the BBC could not hide the full horror of what was going on their, and to their eternal shame described the regime of Maduro as ‘right wing’.
    When complaints were made about this obvious lie, the BBC justified its falsehood by saying that the regime in Venezuela was ‘authoritarian’ and therefore ‘right wing’. When the BBC were then asked what its definition of right and left wing actually were, the spokesweasel admitted that the BBC didn’t actually have a definition and left it up to individual correspondents to define in themselves, meaning that their news output cannot be relied on with so many correspondents using different definitions !

    And so the collapse goes on, with no toilet rolls, and people so hungry they are forced to eat the animals in the Zoo, and the only excuse the BBC can come up with now is ‘corruption caused it’.

    One thing not mentioned yet is that Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, and if you can’t make socialism work with that kind of wealth behind you, then it cannot work anywhere.

    • It is long past time to privatize the BBC. Nobody should be forced to pay for their drivel and propaganda.

    • I wasn’t aware that the BBC had called Maduros regime right wing and then doubled down to justify it.
      They are truly vying for CNNs place as the most distrusted news network.
      At least Pravda had the excuse of existing in a totalitarian regime.

  8. When you have worked to accumulate even a little wealth you value it. If you just appropriate money with no real effort you do not.
    Why do quasi-intellectuals have to create an overblown ideology to explain the obvious? Better than doing a proper job I suppose.

  9. Watching Owen Jones idealism and delusion colliding with reality and turning into denial would be funny were it not tragic. Tragic for anyone who has to suffer under a socialist regime imposed by idealism and delusion without regard to consequences – as every single one always has.

    • owen jones, he wearies me, he says nothing of note because added together his mental age and IQ do not equal his shoe size.

    • I have an old work colleague and still friend who is exactly like Owen.
      Whenever I see him I try to get him to see the error of his ways but he is surrounded by an echo chamber of lefty friends and family and I find it funny to watch the look of cognitive dissonance on his face when presented with the truth which he never hears.

  10. Actually there’s a far better parallel closer to home. When Francois Hollande was elected on a Socialist platform in 2012, the Labour party were going on about what a great advert France would be and so on and so on ; as ever with these things they shut up about it PDQ and Hollande lost spectacularly.

  11. But this time it will be REEL SOSHALISM not that fake socialism they did in the USSR, Poland, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China etc…

    No one will die to a firing squad this time and no one will end up wiping their bum with leaves, honest!

  12. Owen and other suspects like MaoDonnell are doing the rounds saying Venezuela has not adopted ‘true’ socialism.
    This is after singing the praises of Chavez and Venezuela only a few short years ago.
    But they should hold their feet to the fire and point out that there are no examples of a successful country that adopted communism, or so called democratic socialism.
    This mythical country that done well under full blown socialism does not exist. Pretending these countries did not get it right on socialism is a myth and lie.
    It’s how socialism always works out, badly

  13. Socialist success stories always happen in far away countries that we are unlikely to visit and check out for ourselves. In the 1930s it was the rapid industrialisation of the paradiscal Soviet Union transforming the lives of the workers; in the 1960s it was Mao’s China; Fidel’s Cuba seemed to have a permanent pass from the left; and then Hugo got his hands on Venezuela. Along the way, there were other messiahs like the Ortega brothers, Commandante Zero and the Kirschners – all touched by the genius and transformational power of socialism. What they had in common is that they might as well have existed on the dark side of the moon for all the average member of Burnley Labour party or comrades further to the left knew or cared. The socialist beacons matter above all as symbols of faith rather than fact, secular examples of Christianity’s unknowable heaven. We shut our eyes to the known or at least reported fact that in the socialist miracle, the five loaves and two fishes become half a loaf and no fish. The British Right can blast away at Venezuela as much as they like because no one who is a believer is listening to the message; it’s the mirage that counts.

    • Like any other politician, but mostly in a socialist, if their lips are moving then they are equivocating, i.e. lying.

    • Ah but “That is now and this was then!”. Make it up as you go alnog – there is no actual proof of the ‘advances’ made in social welfare and education in Venezeula, rather like the ‘success’ of the Stalin and Mao Five Year Plans.

  14. The problem is they always miss one central failing.
    Good health, good education and welfare mean nothing when you stifle the human spirit and do not allow the individual to flourish.
    The clever will either leave or be seduced and corrupted into the state and the inevitable downward spiral will begin until they run out of other peoples money.

    • ‘Good education’? More like indoctrination (as it has been here since Blair & Co. got their talons into it). And ‘good health care’ is just a ‘control by fear’ system – if you don’t fit in we won’t treat you.

  15. To my mind Venezuela was a bucket shop country long before Hugo Chavez and his band of communists. They had a so called liberal, President Pérez who instituted the “Caracazo” a massacre in which hundreds of protesters were slaughtered. Like Argentina and Chile before it was just a question of which lunatics ruled- right or left.

  16. Caracas has been a hellhole since the 1980’s, when drug lords were king. The country hasn’t seen a good day since the 1930’s, in capitalist systems or socialist. Even Mexico fares better.

  17. I think pretty much any political system could be made to work if everyone in everyday of their lives was decent, honest and hardworking.

    However even the best of us would fall down on at least one of those virtues periodically (systematically in my case).

    For many years I believed in socialism but over time I realised that human nature is such it can never work – at least in the world we find ourselves in.

    You see if there is a pasture for ten of us and we all have one goat to graze one of us at least will graze two. But now there is not enough pasture we might say – true says the other, but I have two goats now and you have one.

    Capitalism at least accepts our flaws and encourages our strengths of hard work, invention and goat herding.

    • Capitalism, private ownership, family & regional attachments are totally natural.
      They are a force of nature.
      Like all such forces, they must be restrained under certain circumstances, but they
      are natural & they work.
      Socialism is purely a theory drawn up by theoreticians with little humanity
      It only works, for a time, in homogenous, prosperous, small communities where
      there is absolute trust.
      If the Tories actually want to win any elections, something I sometimes doubt, they should be hammering home regularly in Parliament, national & local news programmes
      on radio & TV just what a disaster Venezuela is, since it was Labour’s declared model for the UK.
      Similar socialist disasters should be pointed out regularly to the electorate.
      Mind you, electoral fraud is so widespread ,that Corbyn & the muslim party of Britain
      will win, regardless of opinion polls.

  18. I think Ronald Reagan said something along the lines of….you can always tell a communist as they have read Marx and Lenin,you can always tell an anti communist as they have understood Marx and Lenin

    • Yep. Not many pets left either – the only reason hamster on toast isn’t popular, is that there’s no bread. I understand the cities are remarkably free from rats and feral cats and dogs too.

  19. I cannot do much. All I can do is laugh at them, contorting themselves into such hilarious shapes in order to make excuses for what they said in earnest less than a decade ago. I find it nothing else but completely risible and take great pleasure in laughing at them.

  20. The problem is that the competition aren’t much better. Despite staring down the barrel of the Corbyn gotterdammerung should it fall, I just can’t bring myself to support this government.

  21. The author is totally nisguided. The problem with Venezuela is that they haven’t pursued socialism enough. One they fully commit themselves to this ideal the lot of the sheep will improve markedly.

  22. Socialism is an impossible utopia, it cannot be reached – Utopia until you die.

    The problem is, in order to impose their Socialist version of Utopia, it has to be, it can be no other than, a man made construct and thus is collectively dependent on fair play, honesty, truthfulness, altruism and trust – go figure.

    Utopia until you die, that’s the other problem, death becomes the solution.

    There are many South/Central America allegories, I’ll draw you one.

    Some (idiot) historians, ‘the experts’ somehow praise them as ‘civilized’ probably because they learned to build in stone – the rest of it was relentless cruelty, unmitigated brutality, slavery and grinding hardship for the ‘little people’.

    With the Aztecs t’was all going super-dooper, when suddenly the Sun stopped shining and the rains blighted the lands, alack and woe, curse the Gods and the people!!

    The priests knew what was the solution – more sacrifice! Therefore it was decreed and more hearts were torn from the living bodies of the ‘volunteers’ and until the temple steps were a cascade of gore, running with the blood – of the people surely that would make sunlight for the uplands, surely!

    Aztecs, they sank back into the midden of history.

    But have the lessons being learnt, I rather think not, eh jeremy?

  23. The thing is. For Corbynistas, this a not about politics. What grips them is a kind of deformed and twisted religious impulse. Closed to all reason and fact. Human pride is also the problem. They’ve all nailed their personal and public credibility to the mast of a thriving Socialist Venezuela. Only a tiny minority would have the strength of character to admit they were wrong. The majority will just look the other way, go into denial, or tell outright lies rather than lose face.

  24. Owen is just outclassed by Kate. A feelz over facts argument, just look at the expression on her face when he is talking, she just cannot believe he believes what he is saying.

  25. Yes, but think of the untrammeled power held by President Maduro, this is what socialist want, if they reduce a nation to penury to get they do not care! Nor would Mr Corbyn.

  26. Where are the financial projections, dire warnings and project fear about a Corbyn government which would be far more damaging both socially and financially, than they presume Brexit would be.

  27. It is fascinating that the self styled ‘Socialists ‘ (ie Trades Union leaders, Labour politicians and assorted claptrappy ‘solidarity’ groups) who add to their Victim List the usual Virtue Postures to show how pure they are seem to have missed that the Chavez/Maduro party is not affiliated to the Socialist International of the democratic socialist parties (ie in the UK Labour) and that the three Venezuelan opposition parties which are so, and that their members, activists, leaders are being persecuted or imprisoned by the Murderous Maduro Regime.
    I also find it strange that they display amnesia that Chavez was a general who attempted a failed military coup before he became a civilian radical socialist. Or to pull both of these strands together ‘Claptrappy Virtue Posturing of Socialist rhetoric Ends in Military Dictatorship and Corruption’ Idiots such as Corbyn, McDonnell etc always fall for the first bit.

  28. Sadly I find that even children (now adults) of parents who lived under communist regimes and who were able to flee to western Europe, have no idea of what communism/socialism inevitably leads to, therefore it’s no surprise that the Corbyns of this world have so much support.

    When you point out the failures of socialism, such as mass genocides either through starvation, or, more direct methods, the answer is always a variation of “that wasn’t the right sort of socialism” and “we’ll make sure that we will get it right next time around”.

    You’re never going to convince the likes of Jones, McDonnel or Corbyn otherwise. They’re in too deep and for them to admit that socialism is a complete and utter failure would mean admitting that their core beliefs and ideology, indeed their life’s work, is a complete sham.

    There is hope yet though, I find that using some very basic economic facts and past examples of failed socialist states at the very least, allows younger people to at least question this awful ideology. A small start I know, but I really do find that more and more youngsters are open to listening to what the free market and conservatism actually means; bizzarely, I’ve found that they even consider it the new counter culture…

  29. Things changed for 2012 you say? And with it the Left’s view of the revolution in Venezuela. Well it doesn’t seem like it when you watch this fraternal conversation between the ‘not real Socialist’ Maduro and Corbyn in the summer of 2014.

    And another inconvenient truth; long before the inevitable poverty and shortages, Chavez, immediately after his election, began to make the constitutional changes that in the late 90’s and early 00’s would see his cronies take positions of power and see opposition leaders excluded from the democratic process. He was walking the well worn socialist road map, played out across eastern Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, cementing himself in power as the country moved from democracy to dictatorship.

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