By Carol Rushton

In my February 26 Front Line article I pointed out how Bernie Sanders’ socialist dream that was tried in China under Mao Zedong did not work out so well. Another socialist paradise is also failing, and failing badly: Venezuela.

Dictator Hugo Chavez turned Venezuela, one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, into a poverty-stricken nation where people are fleeing by the thousands. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, continued Chavez’s socialist policies, both men promising to bring “equality” to all segments of Venezuelan society. The promises of Chavez and Maduro have been fulfilled. Everyone in Venezuela is equal alright: equally poor.

In 2013, Western media outlets reported that Venezuela was running out of toilet paper. Americans think we have it bad if we can’t afford cable TV or the latest iPhone. Toilet paper is a very basic necessity. What would you if you had no toilet paper? I’m not talking about being so poor you can’t afford to buy toilet paper, I’m talking about there being no toilet paper to buy.

In the months that followed, pictures of empty store shelves in Venezuelan stores were printed in American newspapers and websites. Venezuelans would stand in line for basic food items for hours only to be turned away empty handed. It didn’t matter whether Venezuelans had money to buy groceries; the stores simply had none to sell. Reminds one of the old Soviet Union. The only ones doing well were Chavez, his family members, and his cronies in government, who lived in palaces and villas, while the people who elected them were literally starving.

The situation in Venezuela has become so bad that even liberal news outlets such as Reuters and the Washington Post can no longer ignore it. A March 2, 2018 Reuters article, “A Journey On a Caravan of Misery” describes the stark reality Venezuelans must face every day in a country where they can no longer even eke out a living (hat tip hotair.com).

By the time dawn rises over Caracas, hungry people are already picking through garbage while kids beg in front of bakeries. Come dusk, many Venezuelans shut themselves inside their homes to avoid muggings and kidnappings. In a country with the world’s largest proven crude reserves, some families now cook with firewood because they cannot find propane. Hospitals lack supplies as basic as disinfectant. Food is so scarce and pricey that the average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds last year.

Venezuelans are now fleeing to any neighboring country who will take them because there are no jobs in their home country. The economy has completely collapsed and the only way for people to survive is to find work somewhere else.

On board the bus, web developer Tony Alonzo had sold his childhood guitar to help pay for his ticket to Chile. For months he had been going to bed hungry so that his 5-year-old brother could have something for dinner. Natacha Rodriguez, a machine operator, had been robbed at gunpoint three times in the past year. She was headed for Chile, too, hoping to give her baseball-loving son a better life. Roger Chirinos was leaving his wife and two young children behind to search for work in Ecuador. . .

Now financially ravaged Venezuelans with fewer skills are pouring across South America in a frantic search for work in restaurants, stores, call centers and construction sites. Some travel only as far as their savings will stretch: A one-way bus ticket to neighboring Colombia from Caracas costs the U.S. equivalent of around $15; the fare for a trip to Chile or Argentina can run as high as $350, a small fortune for many, the plunging currency and rocketing inflation make financing the voyage more expensive with each passing day.

Sociologist Tomas Paez, an immigration specialist at the Central University of Venezuela, estimates that almost 3 million people have fled Venezuela over the past two decades. He believes nearly half of them have left in the last two years alone, in one of the largest mass migrations that continent has ever seen.

My father, Rev. Noah Hutchings, visited Cuba in the late 1990s on a mission trip to bring medical supplies to Cuban hospitals. Hospitals in Cuba cannot afford things as basic as sheets for the beds or aspirin. Hospital windows are bare. When Americans think of bare windows, we think of having no window blinds or curtains. Cuban hospitals literally have no panes of glass. Female doctors and nurses have to literally prostitute themselves on the streets for money to pay for medicines for their patients.

For years, Cubans have tried to flee their “socialist paradise,” some fortunate enough to make it to the United States before being shot by Castro’s military or turned away by the U.S. Coast Guard. Meanwhile, the country’s dictator Fidel Castro, whose personal wealth has been estimated at $900 million, “owned” (more likely appropriated by force) multiple luxury residences on the island, including the former Havana Biltmore Yacht and Country Club.

Bernie Sanders can spout his socialist nonsense to liberal American reporters who never challenge him to explain why socialism in Cuba and Venezuela have failed and failed miserably. Even if a journalist was brave enough to ask Sanders about the situation in Venezuela, I’m sure he would dismiss the question out of hand and or explain it away as not being properly implemented. This should be no surprise. American liberals never want to talk about the failures of socialism, even when they are confronted with it. They can’t. If they did, it would destroy their attempts to fully impose socialism on an unsuspecting American public.  By the way, like socialist dictators abroad, Bernie Sanders is a multi-millionaire and owns several large homes.

The young Americans who follow Bernie Sanders and lap up his socialist mantra need to realize that Sanders wants to bring the same miserable socialist paradise to them that the Chinese, Cubans, and Venezuelans have lived in for years. Socialism never works, no matter how many times it is tried. Let us pray that those embracing Sanders and his socialist beliefs will wake up before it is too late.