Where Does Venezuela’s Economy Stand Ahead of the Election?

| Friday, April 13th, 2012 | No Comments »

By Roger Noriega“Hugo Chávez will leave behind a country whose private economy was destroyed on purpose to suffocate any opposition. And he has surrendered his nation’s patrimony in deals that were good for his narrow political aims but disastrous for Venezuelans. In the next few weeks, my sources say that he will usurp sweeping new authority to expropriate the property of any company that lends material support to the democratic opposition. That fateful decision would represent a coup de grâce to private enterprise in Venezuela. And if he moves against consumer industries that he has thus far left alone, the regime may encounter unprecedented popular resistance. With regard to the state-run petroleum sector, Chávez has betrayed theVenezuelan people through his secret pacts with China and other favored partners. Due to the government’s fiscal crisis and his desperate need for cash in this election year, he has agreed to provide large portions of Venezuela’s dwindling oil production and other hydrocarbon concessions to Chinese interests. Some of these secret deals have been exposed, revealing exploitative, below-market prices in exchange for about $20 billion in cash deposited in a Chávez slush fund. His regime is now completing negotiations with the Chinese for an additional $4 billion that my sources say are economically unviable. A senior Chinese official is expected to finalize the sweetheart deal in a visit to Caracas in May. To avoid accountability for this corruption and mismanagement, Chávez’s cronies will stop at nothing to hold on to power. If the democratic opposition is to have any chance, international solidarity will be indispensable.”

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