09 October, 2012

A sorry result

When details of Hugo Chavez' election victory flicked across my computer screen, there were two Italian electricians working here. 'Chavez has won!', one of them said, and I forebore from making a comment when I saw they were both clearly delighted. There is a strong tradition of communism in this part of Italy.

The significance of Chavez is not just his socialism, though. He is, above all other things, a nationalist, with all the good and the bad that that term implies. He has made the people feel individual, proud, involved. At the same time it is thought that half the Jewish population of the country has moved to Colombia.

As a leader of his people, Chavez bears comparison with Margaret Thatcher (although I am sure he would not relish the thought). In some respects national pride is a very good thing.

But I am convinced, pace my electrician friends, that he is the wrong choice for Venezuela. His crude economic interventions seem likely to increase the country's reliance on oil, which will not last forever and which forces more economic power on to the State, which is where the revenues arrive, and heralds a decline in the industrial sector. This is called the Dutch Disease (see here).

Another six years of Chavez will, in my view, bring Venezuela to its knees.

No comments: