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Friday, August 19, 2016

The Man Behind Venezuela’s Economic Mess & Chavez's Stinking Rich Daughter

Maduro Places Confidence in a Spanish Marxist Professor He Calls
'the Jesus Christ of the Economy'

"The fact that the government continues to insist with the XXI century socialism can be attributed to A Alfredo Serrano (Misión verdad)
“The fact that the government continues to insist on 21 century socialism can be attributed to Alfredo Serrano” (Misión verdad)

The main culprits of the most radical measures taken by the Venezuelan government come from Spanish politician Alfredo Serrano Mancilla, according to Spanish Adviser to President Nicolás Maduro Deputy Carlos Valero.

Valero told the newspaper ABC in Spain that Serrano “is the author of the latest and most radical economic measures undertaken by the Chavistas, who have only managed to impoverish the country.”

Expropriations, the seizure of businesses, “urban agriculture” on balconies, the soviet supply system and forced employment in the public agriculture sector are all a result of Serrano’s influence.

Earlier this year, the newspaper El Nacional reported about “Alfredo Serrano Mancilla, the Spaniard who pulls the strings of the Venezuelan economy.” The newspaper pointed out the Podemos member is one of the most influential figures in Maduro’s economic cabinet.

“The fact that the government continues to insist on the economic model of socialism in the 21st century, despite the queues, shortages and inflation is entirely from him,” the paper claimed.

Mancilla “is the last redoubt that the Spanish populist left keeps in Venezuela,” according to ABC.

He is the coordinator of the Center for Political and Social Studies (CEPS), a Spanish anti-capitalist organization that provides political consulting. He has consulted for the governments of Spain, Venezuela, Ecuador, El Salvador and Bolivia. CEPS is currently listed as an “appendix” of Podemos. Several of its leaders operate within the Spanish leftist party (most notably Podemos leaders Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejón).

Mancilla studied economics in Barcelona, Spain and in Quebec, Canada. He arrived in Venezuela 10 years ago with a group of leftist Spanish teachers (Juan Carlos Monedero, Pablo Iglesias, Luis Alegre, Roberto Viciano Pastor) who were attracted to the idealistic thought of Hugo Chavez.

Mancilla began a friendly relationship with the Marxist political intelligentsia of Venezuela until meeting with then-Planning Minister Ricardo Menendez, after which he began rubbing shoulders with even more important higher-ups.

In 2014, he presented the paper The Economic thought of Hugo Chavez, for which President Nicolás Maduro praised him and introduced him to the elite of the regime. Mancilla immediately became an advisor to Maduro.

From there, Mancilla became a kind of ideologue of Chavismo. He wrote speeches for President Maduro, including the most important ones presented to the National Assembly.

Mancilla, according to El Nacional, has solidified the idea that the socialist economic model of the 21st century is unquestionable, and that any failure is the result of attacks from the opposition.

That sounds like Marxist paranoia to me.

“Clinging to the hope of an economic miracle to save his country, Maduro has placed his trust in a dark Spanish Marxist professor whom he calls ‘the Jesus Christ of the economy,'” The Wall Street Journal recently reported.

ABC noted Alfredo Serrano Mancilla is the man behind the Maduro’s constant refusal to allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela.

“Serrano said he wanted to hide the crisis and not allow the entry of humanitarian aid. Even NGOs like Doctors Without Borders cannot act in Venezuela without asking permission from authorities.”

Chávez’s Daughter Is Filthy Rich,
and That Shouldn’t Be a Surprise

Inequality in Socialist Venezuela Is a Feature, Not a Bug

The accumulated wealth of Hugo Chávez's daughter is not the result of covert capitalism.
The accumulated wealth of Hugo Chávez's daughter is not the result of covert capitalism. 

By Ezequiel Spector

Español - The alleged fortune of María Gabriela Chávez, daughter of the late Hugo Chávez, has recently stirred up controversy in Venezuela. Media reports suggest that Chávez’s daughter has US$4.2 billion stored in bank accounts in the United States and Andorra, which might make her the wealthiest person in Venezuela.

Critics have pointed to a supposed inconsistency: how can one support the so-called Bolivarian Revolution while enjoying such enormous riches? However, the premise of this critique is flawed, because it assumes that Chavismo emerged to uphold rights and equality.

In countries like Venezuela, the inequality between crony politicians and common citizens is evident. The first group enjoys considerable privileges, while the latter struggles to avoid drowning in a sea of inflation, shortages, and unemployment. The ruling class’s friends can travel and have access to foreign goods. Common Venezuelans must make do with “shopping” at mostly empty supermarkets.

But make no mistake, Venezuelan leaders are not covert capitalists. Their wealth does not come from outperforming their competitors in the provision of superior, affordable goods and services. It is not the result of taking risks and investing their own capital.

They are rich because the government has awarded them privileges and subsidies, at the expense of the average citizen. That’s 21st-century socialism’s social mobility. They don’t want capitalism, since their socialist system has already made them quite comfortable.

When defenders of the republic call for separation of powers, an independent judiciary, a nonpartisan central bank, and respect for civil liberties, they don’t do it out of a whim or to advance some abstract theory.

They do it because, among other things, they know that is the path to economic progress. They are aware that when those values are upheld, poverty and unemployment rates decrease, upward social mobility picks up, and individual potential is unleashed. They also realize that high concentration of power occur when those values are undermined.

Australians, Canadians, and Swedes are not inherently better than Latin Americans. The wealth of nations has nothing to do with national character. It comes down to institutional frameworks: some choose to promote trade, rule of law, and republican values, and others give their leaders absolute power.

The defense of republican values and individual liberties is not some foreign concept, divorced from citizenship. It is the defense of citizens themselves, and the economic elite in Venezuela know it. That’s why they choose to keep their fortunes in republican countries, where they know there is no authoritarian ruler that will arbitrarily take it all away.

However, they don’t apply that knowledge to the Latin American countries where they grew up. If they did, an open economy would not allow them to live so comfortably; they would have to compete in a free market.

They reject capitalism not because they think it is inherently unjust, but because they are well aware that it is the only system that would put their talents to the test. And that is something which they greatly fear.

María Gabriela Chávez’s alleged wealth, and other inequalities present in Venezuela, are not anomalies, or symptoms of a “poorly implemented” socialist system. They are, in fact, the inevitable consequences of socialism.

That is a lesson Latin America has yet to learn.

Ezequiel Spector is a lawyer, PhD candidate, and professor at the University Torcuato Di Tella. He was also a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona and the Charles III University of Madrid. Follow @ezspector.