How Socialism Ruined Latin America

How Socialism Ruined Latin America
An elderly woman lines up to buy basic food and household items outside a supermarket in the poor neighborhood of Lidice, in Caracas, Venezuela on May 27, 2016. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Fergus Hodgson

As Venezuela implodes before our eyes, one cannot overstate the destruction, suffering, and deceit stemming from socialism in Latin America.

Socialism’s centralized economic planning and violations of property rights have brought crushing poverty to Cuba, hyperinflation and chaos to Venezuela, and moral degradation to Argentina. To maintain this inhumane system of redistribution and monopolization—as people resist and flee— regimes throughout Latin America have resorted to either dictatorships, such as in Nicaragua, or flagrant violations of free speech and association, such as in Ecuador and Bolivia.
The proof is in the pudding: Latin Americans continue to leave in droves for North America and Europe, most never return. More than 600,000 Venezuelans have fled the dictatorship since Hugo Chávez took power in 1999, and they are number one for asylum applications in the United States and Spain.
The downtrodden from Central America and the Caribbean escape on makeshift rafts and on foot, often traversing suicidal routes such as the “Train of Death” through Mexico. Women expect to be raped along the way and even take birth control as a preventative measure. (Watch La Bestia and 7 Soles by Pedro Ultreras.)
Not only do Latin Americans leave, so do foreign investors, if they ever considered the region in the first place. After 500 years of state oppression, these economies find themselves starved of human and physical capital, struggling with levels of poverty and lawlessness inconceivable to most people in the developed world. With few exceptions, such as Chile, they have little choice but to rely on natural-resource extraction, although the nationalized revenues get diverted to corruption, unsustainable entitlements, and pet projects, if not poached outright.

Authoritarian Rule

Latin American nations have taken socialism to its logical conclusion—authoritarian rule.
Take a look at rankings of economic freedom and ease of doing business. You’ll find the likes of Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, and Bolivia all classified as “least free” by the Fraser Institute of Canada. Those at the heart of the socialist Bolivarian Alliance are the worst, and Cuba can’t even be ranked. She barely has a private sector to speak of, and any organization with integrity refuses to parrot the regime’s phony statistics.
Some useful-idiot Canadian and American political leaders revere violent socialists such as Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Chávez; see Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. However, the private sector in these two nations has enough sway to at least push back and maintain a presence.
The same cannot be said for many Latin American nations, where the rulers don’t just admire Marxist guerrillas, they are Marxist guerrillas. In recent times, consider how many Latin American heads of state fought in the wave of guerrilla violence of the 1970s and 1980s with the support of the Soviets and the Cubans. The list includes: Salvador Sánchez Cerén in El Salvador, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica in Uruguay, and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. Although not a guerrilla per se, Hugo Chávez also instigated two coups against his own government in the 1990s.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have been fighting a Marxist-terrorist war against the people and the state for half a century, funding their operations with extortion and narcotics. Now, as part of the “peace deal,” they want, and will likely get, guaranteed seats in Colombia’s Congress of the Republic.


Should we be surprised when these people think top-down mandates and force are the path to prosperity? The real surprise is that anyone still buys the lies of Latin American socialists.
In the words of Peruvian Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, “When the reality is unacceptable, fiction is a refuge.” This is where the blame game and propaganda machine are necessary. All the economic destruction is someone else’s fault, and the Bolivarian Alliance and like-minded nations in the region pay handsomely for Venezuelan media company Telesur to spread socialist deception and cover their tracks.
But Telesur is almost benign compared to the absurd levels of free-speech suppression across the continent. This includes fines for publishing and not publishing stories, closures of watchdog NGOs, troll centers to intimidate dissidents, and even requirements on government workers to attend marches and praise their overlordsnot to mention imprisonment for attending dissident marches.
The end of the road is Cuba, admired by so many socialists throughout Latin America and now under the reign of Raúl Castro, the younger brother of Fidel. If you publicly oppose the regime, expect to end up in prison or be assassinated, as happened to my friend’s father, Oswaldo Payá, a peaceful activist for democracy.

The regime’s petty tyrants are so hostile to the truth getting out about their paraíso socialista that they arrest a group of women, the Ladies in White. What is their crime? These wives and relatives of political prisoners march along Havana’s filthy, broken streets on their way to church and call attention to the injustice. In Cuba as in China, the truth is something socialists and communists can’t handle.

Fergus Hodgson is the founder and executive editor of Latin American intelligence publication Antigua Report. He is also the roving editor of Gold Newsletter and the managing editor of the American Institute for Economic Research.
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Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Fergus Hodgson is the founder and executive editor of Latin American intelligence publication Econ Americas. He is also the roving editor of Gold Newsletter and a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.