John Oliver Doesn’t Mention Socialism Once in Segment on Turmoil in Venezuela

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HBO comedian John Oliver did a brief segment Sunday night about the massive economic misfortunes of Venezuela while somehow not mentioning socialism once.

On Last Week Tonight, Oliver called out the "low price of oil" as the reason for the hyperinflation and chaos gripping the South American country, and he went on to rip socialist President Nicolas Maduro's response to the crisis, all while not mentioning his ideology.

"So what is wrong with Venezuela?" Oliver asked. "Well, the short answer is everything. The low price of oil, which accounts for 96 percent of Venezuela's exports, has triggered an economic collapse—causing massive inflation and shortages of food and medicine. And their current president, Nicolas Maduro, is not handling it at all well. He recently suggested punishing business owners who've ceased operations by jailing them and seizing their factories."

Oliver went on to mock Maduro for his derided comment that women should dry their hair naturally, as well as his idea of punishing business owners who have ceased operations and his spending on large-scale military exercises.

"Yes, while his citizens are starving, Maduro decided now would be a great time to spend money on the biggest military exercise in Venezuelan history, which is bound to inflame tensions even more," Oliver said. "So, it seems to me Maduro has got two choices: either step down and make his people happy; or, at the very least, make sure those tanks are firing loaves of bread."

Missing from Oliver's commentary was pointing out redistribution and other socialist government policies begun by former president Hugo Chavez that sparked food shortages and rapidly rising debt, The Telegraph recently reported:

Diego Moya-Ocampos, senior political risk analyst at IHS, says the current crisis is the result of years of "economic mismanagement" by the ruling socialist party.

Led by Hugo Chávez, the country’s firebrand former president, the country embarked on a wave of expropriation and redistribution with the charismatic leader offering  cut-price fridges, appliances and even new homes to poor Venezuelans.

Chávez wanted to create a socialist paradise, an ideology that has been reinforced by his successor Maduro following his death in 2013.

But the oil price collapse a year later served as a wake-up call for a country that chose profligacy over prudence in the hope that a rainy day would never come.

Oil accounts for 98pc of total exports and 59pc of fiscal revenues, but Moya-Ocampos says the price slide isn’t the country’s only problem.

"Even under Chavez and $100 a barrel oil, debt was rapidly rising and there were already food shortages," he says, "This is ultimately to do with an interventionist model that is not sustainable and has reached a tipping point."

Maduro’s declaration of a fresh three month state of emergency has sparked fears that the government will try to seize control of more private companies.

Many Venezuelans have already left the country, including Francisco Flores. "Venezuela has taken good working companies, given them to the poor but not equipped them with the skills to run them so they go bankrupt," he says.

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