Summary: Andrés Guilarte, former college student in Venezuela, has experienced the failures of Venezuela socialism firsthand. Since coming to the United States, he has worked hard to warn American college students about the dangers of socialism. CRC’s Sarah Lee has recently interviewed him for Capital Research magazine.
Worried About Socialism
SARAH: What are you doing now that you’ve come to the U.S. and have begun working with TFAS? And what are you seeing in the U.S. that makes you think this might be necessary work?
ANDRÉS: In July of last year, I and my friend Jorge Galicia started this project with TFAS, called Venezuela Project. We went through preparations to be able to provide an efficient storytelling presentation to college students and civil society in general about the Venezuelan crisis, with emphasis on how we went from a prosperous country toward this situation, explaining also the factors that led to Hugo Chavez’s rise to power.
We believe this is necessary to clarify the current crisis in Venezuela while also raising awareness to not follow the same policies.
SARAH: You told me that there’s a saying in Venezuela that by the time you’re worried about socialism, it’s too late. Do you think Americans worry about the threat of socialism enough and can you confirm that Chavez and later Maduro nationalized industry in Venezuela slowly until it was too late?
ANDRÉS: Yes, that saying in Venezuela was a reflection of the general sentiment among the society, because we believed that Cuba was a really far away reality, when in reality, the same evil that destroyed Cuba, was being built in Venezuela. The oil industry was nationalized in 1976 under the first government of Carlos Andrés Perez. After that, Chavez in 1998 increased the nationalization efforts of the industry, so the main national company, PDVSA, went completely to the hands of the government, and Chavez managed to put hand-picked officials on the board. Maduro has just been a terrible manager of the industry so every year the oil production continuously goes down.
SARAH: A young Latina reporter I met shared a story with me about visiting her boyfriend’s family in Venezuela and how a family member spent hours looking for meat to prepare for a family barbeque. She noted that the family had plenty of money, but it didn’t matter because the stores are bare. Is that a reality for most people in Venezuela?
ANDRÉS: Absolutely. If you live in a neighborhood where there are many military members, then you will see supermarkets that have plenty of meat and bread and food to eat. Because if you use the military to control your government, like Maduro does, then you will make sure that those people are fed and well taken care of. If you are not part of the military, it’s very common for the stores in your neighborhood to be out of things that most people in civilized countries take for granted as essential things people need.
SARAH: It’s well known Cuba plays a huge role in what’s happening in Venezuela. Do you think Juan Guaido, were he to finally assume his position should Maduro vacate, will be able to adequately tamp down Cuba’s influence?
ANDRÉS: It is well known among those who do minimum research that Cuba is the big problem in Venezuela. But in American society, the reality is that people believe China and Russia play a bigger role when they currently are secondary actors in the situation. Cuba has been, for many decades, the main foreign power trying to interfere in Venezuelan democracy and Chavez is just the main product of that control. We hope that once Maduro falls, Guaido will be able to expel Cuban influence from the country.