Whither Venezuela? Whither Congo? Whither "Self-Determination"?

From today’s New York Times:

[li]How Bad Off Is Oil-Rich Venezuela? It’s Buying U.S. Oil[/li][li]Looming Transition Ignites Deadly Clashes in Congo[/li][li]Burundi Killings Could Ignite Wider African Crisis, U.N. Report Warns[/li][/ol]
I will focus on Venezuela most but the other two are relevant, as I will explain. This is a brief extract from the Venezuela article:

Throughout the 1950’s through the early 2000 the cry was “Yanqui go home.” Venezuela elected an aggressively anti-Western, populist Hugo Chavez as President in 1998. He promptly shoveled oil revenues into revolutionary schemes and pot-stirring throughout Latin America. His resources swelled as oil prices lept from under $10 per barrel in late 1998 to $146, at one point, in 2008. Between 2006 and late 2014 prices treaded between $60 and $110 a barrel, with occasional spikes up and down from those levels. Since just after Thanksgiving 2014 the prices tumbled to a current range between $35 and $55 a barre, again with occasional short spikes higher and lower. This graph provides an excellent snapshot of oil prices from 1946 to 2015.

Now all three of the countries about whom I have linked articles in one day’s paper, that of September 21, 2016 are in deep crisis. Except for the “tiger countries” of South Korea, Taiwan, and Canada, Australia, New Zealand Singapore, Israel, Chile, Costa Rica Ireland, Iceland and to a lesser extent India, most countries that gained independence from the second half of the 19th Century on are, objectively, not doing well. I may have omitted some countries but the overall picture is accurate.

These countries are wracked by war, famine and corruption. The growth of the U.N. and multilateral aid has made life extremely lucrative for the leaders.In fact, while Venezuela, Congo, Burundi and other countries in deep crisis shake their tin cups, they should be asked to bring back some wealth from dictators’ Swiss bank accounts. It is all well and good for leaders such as Chavez and now Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to make threats directed at the United States. But why should we lift a finger while being vilified? And make no mistake; “U.N. aid” is Western aid stripped of preconditions and safeguards. See Top Ten Providers of Assessed Contributions to UN Budgets. The top ten contributors are all Western democracies, including the U.S., U.K., Japan, German and Canada. None o the very wealthy oil producing countries are there.

This should not come as a shock. This is the colonial system but with the West getting no benefits and the dictators getting unfettered access to funds, to steal and kill. My position is that there should be no aid, without serious restraints on how the money is spent. And in the case of Venezuela, no privatization of the oil industry, no aid. Full stop.

reported as possible spam


It doesn’t look like any spam I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. And the OP has been here for 4 years.

Who, exactly, is proposing sending aid to Venezuela?


First, for all his faults (and he had many) I think it’s unfair to accuse Chavez of padding his Swiss bank account. He was not a kleptocrat like some dictators.

Second, the United States and other wealthy countries face a choice. Do we send aid to poor countries or do we let poor people in these countries die? Personally, I’d send the aid. I don’t think the people should suffer for the bad decisions their government made. And even if the people did share responsibility for those decisions, I feel standing by and watching them starve is too harsh a punishment.

Third, I don’t see privatization of Venezuela’s oil as a solution. Wouldn’t if just perpetuate the problem of a handful of people making billions while the rest of the country starves? I don’t see why a Swiss bank account in some corporate executive’s name is any better than the same account held by some politician.

Gosh, I’m certain he meant the shoulders of a horse!

It will happen the same way it did with Greece.


I have no evidence but if you live in or near New York City I’ll bet you dinner at your favorite restaurant that he did pad.

I’m for sending money if the donor countries control its use.

If the oil were privatized the government could charge royalties, either per barrel, a percentage of sales or a blended approach. Since the country has no money for reinvestment in the wells and not much credit, privatization would unleash outside capital. Otherwise the country’s producing capacity will shut down and the results will be tragic.

What governments were sending food aid to Greece?

Turkey? :smiley:

I’ve posted this link before, but Venezuela is so poor it can’t afford to even print money. Or make toilet paper. Or brew beer! 720% inflation, dead broke while sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, currency that’s lost over 99% of its value against the dollar since 2012.

It’s hard to counter an argument that’s based on belief unsupported by evidence.

I’m not seeing it. Obviously, the Chavez regime wasn’t directly using oil to run the government. They weren’t telling people to eat oil or build houses out of oil. They were selling the oil on the world market and then using the money they received to fund government operations.

How would it be any different is somebody else was selling the oil and giving a portion of the money they received to the government to fund its operations? If the government was unable to function when it received the full revenue, how is it going to improve if it only receives part of the revenue? The only people whose situations are improved by this change would be the oil company executives. And I don’t see them as being at the top of the list of people who need help.

‘I’m Hungary!’
‘Stop your Wales. I’ll Fiji.’
‘I want a slice of Turkey fried in Greece!’

And the withers of a Canadian Guinea fowl.

Exactly my point. See below where I’m responding to a poster that doesn’t see why outside capital is neeced.

There is a role for intuition and instinct. At $100+ per barrel a lot of money was going through the government’s hands. What happened to it all? Were all Venezuelan students sent to Harvard?

And blow it on white elephant projects. Use it to stir the pot in other countries. And, as I suspect, steal it.

Because if a private entity owned the upside it woiuld bring in capital that hte government doesn’t have right now. It is painfully obvious that they lack the resources to even run an extractive industry, much less use the money to create a sustainable manufacturing economy. The money was wasted and now they need more. It’s that simple.


by joining the European Union in the 1990s?

this is the usual case in fact, in the real world of the actual development programs. very little donor aid goes direct to government budget supports.

There seems little sign of the direct corruption, the Venezuelan regime managed to completely waste billions in the honest way, of making stupid very bad economic decisions and expending money on huge subsidies.

So Little nemo is right, since this is seeming to be about imaginings and not actual facts, it is not going to be a very useful debate it is likely.

Title changed at request of OP.

The problem in Venezuela was they had an incompetent government that was doing a bad job running the country. They wasted a lot of money but they got away with it for a while because oil revenue was so high they could afford to waste most of it. I think we agree on this.

But that problem isn’t going to be solved by giving the government less money. They’re not magically going to learn how to spend money wisely and run the country more efficiently. If they’re doing a half-assed job now and you cut their revenue in half, then they’ll just do a quarter-assed job and conditions will get worse.

So what do we do about this problem? One possibility is we do nothing. If the Venezuelan economy is dysfunctional, we just observe that it sucks to be a Venezuelan and let them suffer through the consequences. As I said above, I don’t find that acceptable (which I acknowledge is a personal opinion). A second possibility is we give aid to Venezuela with the knowledge that while it will make things better a lot of that aid will be wasted.

The third possibility (which I think is the one you’re suggesting) is that we act more directly. We not only send aid to Venezuela; we also intervene directly in Venezuela and tell them how to run the programs that our aid is funding.

I can see the temptation of the idea. We’re giving them money; why shouldn’t we be able to tell them how that money can be spend? Their government is demonstrably not capable of running things; so why shouldn’t we tell them how to do things better? But I don’t think this kind of intervention would work in the real world.