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Venezuela’s Problem Isn’t Socialism

Maduro’s Mess Has Little to Do With Ideology

Leader of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, tries to get into the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, January 2020 Adriana Loureiro Fernández / The New York Times / Redux

In the last three years, tragic scenes of poverty and mayhem have dominated the coverage of Venezuela, a nation that used to be one of the wealthiest and most democratic countries in South America. Venezuela has become both a byword for failure and, curiously, something of an ideological hot potato, a rhetorical device dropped into political conversations around the world.

[Lea la versión de este artículo en español aquí.] 

In election campaigns from Brazil to Mexico, Italy to the United States, politicians invoke Venezuela as a cautionary tale of the dangers of socialism. Left-wing candidates from Jeremy Corbyn, in the United Kingdom, to Pablo Iglesias, in Spain, find themselves accused of sympathizing with socialist Chavismo—and suffer real political damage from the association with Venezuela’s rulers. The charge, endlessly repeated, is that Venezuela’s failure is the failure of an ideology; socialism is to blame, and

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