Alvaro Vargas Llosa, writing at TNR, tells the truth about those social programs the Left has praised so highly in the Bolivarian Republic of Chavismo (emphasis added), starting with the “free health care”, which was at the hands of Cuban medics working for $200/month:
The Barrio Adentro mission was originally run by about 30,000 Cuban doctors and medics. Many of those health centers are now closed; the rest are seriously understaffed. “The Cubans are leaving,” explains Felix, a social worker from Baruta, “because they don’t get paid, because they are the victims of rampant crime or simply because they have moved on–they only offered to serve in Venezuela as an excuse to get out of Cuba.” In some cases, the government never provided the funds needed to finish the construction of clinics. In Baruta, a desolate construction site reminds the local neighborhood that there is, as Felix puts it, “a gulf separating reality from speeches.” I was not surprised to learn that, according to Andres Bello University, 60 percent of the Barrio Adentro health centers are not functioning.
Food and nutrition:
The Mercal mission, a series of supermarkets in which the poor can theoretically acquire food at extremely low prices, is not faring any better. Because of price controls, essential products are missing from the shelves. People stand in line for hours to buy food or milk. In some cases, as I was told in Petare, producers have been put off by price controls; in others, the people who manage the supermarkets sell essential products under the table to those able to pay more.
The soup kitchens, which supposedly have to serve free meals to 150 Venezuelans in each neighborhood every day, are also falling victim to the chronic shortages. Jesus, a Chavez supporter who manages a soup kitchen in Barrio Union Petare, told me that he would not be serving his neighbors until next week, when he expects to get new provisions. The result? “The squalid ones,” he concluded, using the term with which Chavez refers to his critics, “are now a majority around here.”
Corruption has eroded the prestige of the Habitat mission through which the government supposedly dishes out checks to poor Venezuelans so they can buy a house. It is not unusual for an aspiring homeowner to find out that a mystery person has cashed the check using his or her name. “The same people who hand out the checks cash them for the benefit of their relatives,” explains Eladio, who told me a nephew recently suffered such an experience.
Subsidizing automobiles (Venezuelans pay cents to the gallon of gasoline) has created huge bottlenecks.
Secondary and higher education are suffering too.
Inflation is running at 30%.
Private property is disappearing.
Populism and governmental intervention in every aspect of the economy is the surest way to bankrupt a country.
Will the readers of The New Republic realize this? Or are we going to hear some more about how Chavez is a-charismatic-leader-helping-the-poor-offering-free-health-care-education-adult-literacy-and-job-training-initiatives-that-help-millions-of-Venezuelanstm?