Shame­ful Aussie let­ter shows how socialism ru­ins coun­tries

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

TEN years ago a tribe of Aus­tralia’s snow­field so­cial­ists wrote a grov­el­ling in­vi­ta­tion to the chief thug who has turned Venezuela into the hell you now see on your TV screens. Re­mem­ber this dis­gust­ing let­ter as you watch the reports of peo­ple dy­ing from star­va­tion or lack of medicines in a South Amer­i­can na­tion that should be rich, hav­ing the world’s big­gest proven oil re­serves.

Re­mem­ber this shame­ful let­ter as you think of the more than 400 po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers now rot­ting in the Venezue­lan regime’s jails and the more than 90 peo­ple killed since April at demonstrations de­mand­ing democ­racy.

Re­mem­ber es­pe­cially the names of the sig­na­to­ries to this doc­u­ment of shame: ABC pre­sen­ter Phillip Adams, Greens sen­a­tor Lee Rhi­an­non, pro­pa­gan­dist John Pil­ger, CFMEU union of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Andrew Fer­gu­son and Joe McDon­ald, La­bor sen­a­tor Gavin Mar­shall, Mus­lim spokesman Keysar Trad, for­mer Aus­tralian Democrats leader Natasha Stot­tDe­spoja and La­bor’s Mered­ith Burgmann, then pres­i­dent of the NSW Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil.

Dozens of other se­nior union of­fi­cials, some from the Na­tional Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union, also signed it, as did the head of the Na­tional Union of Stu­dents and Left­ist aca­demics such as Tim An­der­son. So did La­bor’s Wayne Berry, then Speaker in the ACT Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly.

“We, the un­der­signed cit­i­zens of Aus­tralia, would like to ex­tend a warm in­vi­ta­tion for you to visit our coun­try,” read the let­ter, ad­dressed to Venezuela’s bom­bas­tic pres­i­dent, the late Hugo Chavez.

“We have been im­pressed by the great ef­fort that your gov­ern­ment has taken to im­prove the liv­ing stan­dards of the ma­jor­ity of Venezue­lans. We have also noted with keen at­ten­tion the moves that your gov­ern­ment has be­gun to make to cre­ate a so­ci­ety based on pop­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion in all spheres of so­ci­ety …

“Ev­ery coun­try has its own tra­di­tions and cul­ture and has to find its own so­lu­tions, but what Venezuela has been able to achieve in so lit­tle time will be a source of in­spi­ra­tion and ideas for many in Aus­tralia.”

How sick that let­ter seemed even then. Chavez, parad­ing in mil­i­tary- style cloth­ing, had al­ready seized Latin Amer­ica’s then big­gest oil com­pany and started a mas­sive spend­ing spree, in­clud­ing on hand­outs for the poor. In­vestors were al­ready flee­ing. Be­fore long Chavez was clos­ing hos­tile me­dia out­lets, na­tion­al­is­ing other busi­nesses, and putting cor­rupt cronies in key le­gal po­si­tions. He and Ni­colás Maduro, who took over as Pres­i­dent af­ter Chavez’s death in 2012, also stacked the Supreme Court with so many trusty Chav­is­tas that it now runs the coun­try in place of the elected politi­cians whose pow­ers it has of­fi­cially re­moved. And when oil prices fell there was noth­ing left to pay for the gov­ern­ment’s mas­sive spend­ing. The econ­omy col­lapsed. “Venezuela’s demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions are in ru­ins, its cof­fers are empty, and its cit­i­zens are search­ing for food in garbage dumps,” says En­rique ter Horst, for­mer UN Deputy High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights. “A small group of no more than 150 mafia- like fig­ures ( mostly mil­i­tary) … have hi­jacked the coun­try’s democ­racy, robbed it blind and cre­ated a dev­as­tat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.”

So much of this was pre­dictable, yet not to the Left, which tends to judge by words, not deeds.

What has hap­pened in Venezuela should be taught in our schools as one more ex­am­ple of how socialism ru­ins coun­tries.

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