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Why communism doesn't work - a case study in Venezuela

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Reuters did a special report on a unique program in Venezuela intended to fight poverty.

In Venezuela, a real-world example of how communism fails is being played out in tragic slow-motion as oil money sent to poor communities for development is squandered and spent by corrupt officials.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
5/8/2014 (6 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Venezuela, community councils, communism, corruption

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A special report from Thompson Reuters has surfaced concern that money sent by the Venezuelan government to build up communities is being squandered. The report discusses the Venezuelan's policy to distribute oil revenues to poor communities in an effort to help organize the people and build prosperity.

On paper, this appears to be noble. The natural resources of Venezuela, the oil, belongs to all the people instead of just a few. The profits of that production are then shared with those most in need, on a community basis. This ensures the money is well spent and builds supportive communities which can eradicate poverty through opening businesses and providing direct aid to the poor.

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It's the communist ideal, brought to life, except like the whole of communist philosophy, it ignores the greedy corruption of those empowered and entrusted with the money.

Venezuelans who are supposed to receive some benefit from the money are complaining that it is being embezzled, squirreled away, and misspent and those most in need still go without while those with connections or who can manipulate the system are enjoying the effortless payday.

The situation has become so bad that the people of these communities have asked the government to stop sending aid.

Reuters interviewed Juan Freire, 57, a citizen of El Chaparral, a town of just 250 people. The money, he said, wasn't going to the people or stimulating growth. "When we filed complaints, the responses would always be something like, 'we'll send some recommendations'. They never gave us answers."

The problem, according to Reuters, is "a vast community aid effort with lax financial controls." The report details wasteful spending which includes the planting of an orchard with the trees left to wither and die, money used for personal expenses, and funds distributed to friends for 'safekeeping."

Nearly $8 billion has been distributed since 2006.

The entire scheme was the brainchild of Hugo Chavez, who wanted to strengthen support across his base by providing direct aid to poor communities. The idea was for the poor to see government money improving their communities and lives which would endear them to Chavez and the establishment.

Each community, as a condition of receiving funds, was to organize and form a community council which would operate on a small scale to ensure the people's needs were met. However even now, years following the edict, many councils remain unformed and others are rife with corruption. Yet, the money still flows.

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Some have been successful, Reuters reports, building community enters, repairing roads and more. However, in places where corruption abounds, the people are as poorly off as ever.

The Venezuelan government does not report, at least not publicly, on how its program is doing. Reuters  explained that government officials said they were not authorized to discuss the program.

Now, as Hugo's handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, is facing heated internal criticism and civil disruption as he tries to remain in power. Many Venezuelans, weary of the corruption and broken promises are looking to oust Maduro and replace him with new leadership.

The problems with communism are many, and the approach of giving people free money rarely works. Instead, it's apparent that it inspires corruption and embezzlement, especially when enforcement is lax. Without a better moral philosophy in place, such as a Catholic understanding of wealth and how it is best deployed, communities like El Chaparral will simply remain mired in corruption and poverty.

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